We are getting more and more used to seeing window cleaners running around and hoisting long broom-like apparatus against buildings, pushing trolleys or wearing futuristic back-backs. Let’s look into the innovative future of window washing with water fed pole window cleaning.
What is water fed pole window cleaning?
Water fed pole cleaning is a great innovation that has opened up the market for a wide variety of window cleaning jobs. For over a decade water fed pole cleaning has been increasing in popularity in the UK.
Water fed pole window cleaning uses telescopic poles, equipped with brushes and water jets. These water feeder poles allow upper windows to be readily accessed from ground level, negating the need to work at height.
Ladders are obsolete with these systems that are designed to safely access hard to reach areas and heights while providing a consistent clean. Three and four storey buildings are handled with ease as these pole systems can allow work up to 60 feet (20m) high from ground level.
Special deionised water is piped through to the pole, and the fed water is used to clean the window for a smear and streak free clean without wiping.
How does water fed pole cleaning work?
The water fed pole systems are modular, allowing assembly for the necessary height from robust carbon fibre components. The brush at the upper end of the pole is used to agitate and lift dirt off the glass while the water loosens dirt and debris and provides a pure water rinse-allowing the panes to dry clear.
The water used is critical to the effectiveness of water fed pole window cleaning. Purified water is stored in tanks or filtered from the tap. No detergent is needed. Particulates and dissolved solids are removed by filtration alongside deionisation to ensure no residues or spotting is left on the glass.
Advantages of water fed pole window cleaning
Avoids working at height
No ladders or scaffolding needed, water fed poles provide excellent access for window cleaning where a contractor would be working at height or using a scaffold for access.
This mitigates risk and means window cleaners no longer need ladders or the awkward balance of handling tools while balancing. The telescopic pole and brush can be assembled and raised vertically to the required height.
Safe Stringent Work at Height 
Regulations direct that work such as window cleaning should be undertaken from ground level as much as possible.
The Health and Safety Executive recommend water fed pole window cleaning as a method of choice for safe working and are keen to see wide adoption of this technique by window cleaners to reduce deaths and injuries.
No detergent needed
This remarkable water fed pole system only uses simple filtered water which has been deionised and has had all particulates removed. Windows are washed with water alone. Unlike all other types of contract cleaning, there is no need for complex detergent formulas or regimen.
Both window cleaners and customers are recognising the environmental benefits of this water-based cleaning technique that is entirely soap free.
Harmful detergents are not being washed away into the environment. There is minimal water wastage as water for each job is usually prepared and stored in a tank.
If you are undertaking a domestic or commercial window cleaning job, one can feel awkward if you are cleaning a window where someone is inside. Water fed pole window cleaning alleviate both client and cleaner of any potential embarrassment as only the brush sees all.
A variety of water fed pole systems are available for window cleaning contractors of any size and calibre.
Manufacturers are considering how to make this water fed pole window cleaning system accessible for as many users as possible in line with the governmental push to phase out ladder based cleaning techniques.
Tank based systems are installed in vans, but backpack’ and wheelie-based water tank carriers afford a much more affordable and straightforward entry to this type of window cleaning.
Once the water fed pole window cleaning technique of choice has been mastered, and it is generally found to be quicker than the traditional soap and squeegee techniques. As soap and squeegee are relegated, for the assembly of the telescopic brush, agitation of the window panes and their rinse with pure water.
Cleaner windows for longer
Once a consistent regimen of cleaning is established, window cleaned using water fed poles tend to remain cleaner for longer.
There are also some disadvantages to water fed pole cleaning
Water fed pole window cleaning requires access to a building facade so that the telescopic pole and brush can be raised against the building facade for cleaning.
For some buildings, there is no unhindered access or a design that significantly limits the scope of this cleaning technique. In these cases, alternative window cleaning methods will have to be used.
Takes time to get a great clean
With water fed pole cleaning, it takes multiple cleans to build up an optimum finish. It is crucial that property owners understand that the system will require two or three cleans to attain an acceptable result, and a programme of consistent maintenance cleaning will be needed for upkeep.
Windows are left wet
With water fed pole window cleaning, evaporation of the water is part of achieving a streak-free shine. Contractors will have to ensure that their customers understand that their windows will be wet after cleaning.
Health and Safety
Hazards are still present with water fed pole window cleaning. Underfoot slip, and trip hazards are present due to potential water underfoot or the pipes and lines.
Wind and adverse weather conditions are also dangerous for using a water fed pole. Cleaning near power lines carries the risk of electrocution and poorly maintained water storage carries a potential risk of Legionella contamination.
Water fed pole window cleaning represents a distinct departure from the traditional window cleaning set up and comes with the costs of investing in technical equipment and tools. Not to mention window cleaning insurance to cover all your new kit.
There will also be costs to transition to water fed poles for an existing business. This cost represents a barrier to entry for many window cleaners, especially if additional training and transport are required.
Set up for water fed pole window cleaning
If you are starting with a water fed pole system, research and shop around for the ideal set up for the type of work you will be undertaking.
System requirements will vary depending on whether you are undertaking professional low or high volume use, looking for a one-person kit or investing in a full commercial contractor set-up.
Typical equipment needed includes
- Water fed pole systems – Systems are available for a variety of budgets from backpack and trolley based systems which are equipped with filters and pumps to budget and van mounted comprehensive systems that can filter and carry large volumes of water and be used to dispense to portable systems.
- Water fed poles and parts – The poles which support the brush and hose are usually made of carbon fibre, fibreglass or aluminium. These telescopic poles are typically modular and assemble to the length required for your cleaning job. Brush heads may be angled and pre-drilled with tubing to allow insertion of fan jets.
- Hose reels and hose – Hosing is critical to a water fed pole set up that has maximum access. Lengths can be purchased according to your specific requirements and stored using a reel.
- Resin – This is added to DI vessels to purify the water for cleaning by removing all particulates and impurities, so water is 000TDS.
- Filters – A variety of filtration systems are available for deionising and purifying the water, including carbon and sediment filters and reverse osmosis systems. These impact the quality of your clean considerably so shop around for the best investment.
- Tanks and tank frame – These offer sanitary storage of the large volumes of purified water you may need on hand. These can be vehicle mounted.
- Pumps and Controllers – Your pump and controller will afford precision control of water flow to your water fed pole window cleaning system. Most pumps on the market operate at the 5 litres per minute rate and offer good flow and power to your brushes.
- Trailers – Trailer systems can be custom built or purchased to contain your system and its attendant tools in a compact unit that can be attached to your vehicle.
As you can see, window cleaning has now come a long way from ladders, rags and squeegees. The public is becoming more familiar with water fed pole cleaning and often expect it. If you are still using traditional methods, then you might want to start thinking about transitioning from traditional techniques.
There is a wide range of brands and equipment on the market with something for every price point. Prices start at around £250 for a backpack based system up to several thousand pounds for a commercial grade van mounted system or custom trailer.