Roof Cleaning & Treatment – It’s That Time Of Year – Summer

Most of our cleaning services have seasonal variations that make them more appropriate for certain parts of the year. For example, windows and façades are more common in the spring, gutters in the fall, and carpets around winter or the spring. We’re entering roof cleaning season, which is more essential this year. The long, wet and cool winter has been fertile for moss, mold and mildew growth on roofs, which need to be dealt with before they start to damage its integrity and appearance. Left unchecked, they can cause irreparable damage in less than decade in certain conditions. We have seen roofs requiring rebuilds in under a half its expected life span. With the summer finally here, it is the best opportunity to remove them and prevent them from coming back.

west coast style lowrise 3
Most of our cleaning services have seasonal variations that make them more appropriate for certain parts of the year. For example, windows and façades are more common in the spring, gutters in the fall, and carpets around winter or the spring. We’re entering roof cleaning season, which is more essential this year. The long, wet and cool winter has been fertile for moss, mold and mildew growth on roofs, which need to be dealt with before they start to damage its integrity and appearance. Left unchecked, they can cause irreparable damage in less than decade in certain conditions. We have seen roofs requiring rebuilds in under a half its expected life pan. With the summer finally here, it is the best opportunity to remove them and prevent them from coming back.

We employ a multi-step process, starting with physically removing growths and the organic material they may be growing on. The warmer weather dries out deposits, loosening them and making them easier to remove and stop repeat growth. The hot weather also makes it safer for our staff to access difficult places. Although our staff utilizes rope access and safety restraint systems that should theoretically allow us to access all roofs, a wet slippery surface will limit what we can do. The summer months offer us the maximum mobility over the roof surface. Finally we apply a roof treatment that will retard any growth for several years. Undertaking such a process every few years, will ensure that a roof will remain at peak durability for the duration of its expected lifespan.

If you have a building requiring a roof cleaning (or never considered that you might need one) why not give us a call?

I AM THE STRATA! Miscommunication and Residential Services Provision

Ironically one of the most common (and frustrating) source of disagreement we see in our residential cleaning services, emerge over issues where nobody is in the wrong. Failing to establish clear lines of communication often leads to needless disagreement and problems.

It should be no surprise that this occurs. Part of the issue is that there are multiple parties involved, who may not all be on the same page. First there is the service provider. Obviously we provide the same service every day, so we have our own views on how things should be done based on our experience. Furthermore service requests only provide us with the “what,” we have to fill in the blanks on “how.” Businessman with Ice Pack

Next, there is the property manager operating on the behalf of the Strata. In an ideal world, the manager would operate as a single point of contact, bringing together all of the requests, concerns and issues for us to respond to. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, as the Canucks discovered in 1994 and 2011. Property managers have different relationships with stratas, where the latter may take a more active role. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with such a setup, but it does increase the chances that a miscommunications will occur. The title of this article comes from an incident with an unhappy council member, who, when shown our work order, responded “I AM THE STRATA.” That puts us into a bit of an awkward position. Furthermore there are the locations’ residents themselves, which can add a third wrinkle. They may have their own individual concerns, which may or may not be congruent with the building’s overall requirements.

So what’s essential in this situation is flow of communication, right from the start. Everybody who needs the information should get it. We try to do our best, from the moment a quote or service request comes in, to when we leave the site a final time. This includes email notification of, upcoming work ongoing and completed work, contact information with our field staff and managers. Property managers should include council members who need to know and post notices in a timely fashion. Furthermore having a clear, agreed upon, single point of contact for issues and complaints, (ideally the PM), reduces the potential friction. Items don’t get mixed and we can promptly resolve the issue.

So taking care early to set up a clear flow of communications will help to ensure success later. If everybody is on the same page, we can focus on the issues that really matter. If you want more information, we have a handy cleaning guide where we discuss this area further.

Window Cleaning Season. Planning for Issues and Solutions

As spring has finally arrived, so has window-cleaning season at ServiceMaster Clean Residential Vancouver. With it inevitably comes complaints. Here’s a common example.

Screen No Screen

This is a window where the screen was not removed. Its pretty evident when the left side seems completely clean, while the right has speckling from weathering. How can we avoid it and how to handle it, is the focus of this article.

So we first off try to avoid as many problems as possible. One of the most important things we do is send out a building notice a week or two before informing residents of the work that will take place and anything they must do. This can include having their windows closed for a specific time, special access requirements and/or removing screens. These notices must be posted in a visible place, and should not be changed in any way.

Once the work is completed, we have a straightforward process for handling concerns over a seven-day review period.


  1. Make sure the window you are concerned about was included.
  2. Please Clean the Inside Surface of The Window (Now with more light from the outside you can see the inside))
  3. If your screens were not removed and windows closed your windows would not have been cleaned and we are not able to return.
  4. Still not happy, it happens, that’s okay email us with your unit number and the window you are concerned also please include a photo of the window.

NEXT STEPS (If the above steps don’t address the concerns.)

  1. We will set up a return visit.
  2. The window will need to be identified from the interior with a piece of paper
  3. If your building is a high rise we may need access to the affected suite.

What are some other common issues? Watermarks and streaks, which is caused when the window dries too quickly after being washed. Experienced technicians can minimize the possibility of them developing (often by using the minimum amount of water), but even they run afoul of this issue.

Tucker Pole Dried Funny

Watermarks are easily resolved: a quick rewash will remove them as the following photo illustrates.

re cleaned window

The watermarks are immediately gone, and the window will likely dry streak-free. We do re-services for this sort of issue.

Another common issue is un-cleaned window interiors. Often, a technician will do a pass through a location, and a resident will complain that they see no difference. In many cases, there is an internal buildup, which is the issue. We typically ask that residents try to clean their windows as a first step before calling in for a re-service. More than once we have arrived at a site only to find the window has been cleaned, but the interior is the issue.

In order to best serve you, following the steps outlined above can make all the difference.Ideally we would like to deal with all of the issues in one return visit. We do ask that that clients collect all of the defects into a single communication, so we can deal with them in one go. Having pictures of the issue and marking it by a sticky note when our crews arrive also helps us fix the issue.

All in all, we hope that this may have been informative and helpful this spring season. If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to call us at 604 435-1135, or email us at









Your Common Area Floors – A Game Plan To Maintain

Frequently we get asked what is the difference between the different carpet cleaning approaches, and what’s the point. muddy footprints2So we’ve written up a quick description.

By implementing a routine carpet maintenance program, you can preserve and maintain your carpets life for a much longer time. They are also critical for maintaining a carpet’s warrantee. Failure to maintain a proper cleaning schedule will result in a strata undertaking a costly replacement of a carpet more frequently. That could mean 15$ a square foot every ten to fifteen years, compared to the average cost of a carpet cleaning program it’s between $1,800.00 and $2,300.00 annually.

The key issue is dirt and other small particulates. They act like microscopic sandpaper that abrades fibers and deteriorates their appearance. Removing them regularly reduces the wear and tear on the floor. There are two approaches. The first is daily vacuuming, which is the most critical approach to keeping a carpet healthy: the less time particulates remain on the carpet, the less damage they can do. That is the focus of a janitorial program. Regular interim cleaning using a deep pile cleaner like a whittaker or a dry extraction to remove contaminants that normal vacuuming cannot remove on their own.

These three approaches can greatly reduce the need for a full restorative clean. That’s where a carpet’s appearance has deteriorated to the point where an extensive cleaning is required to bring it back to an acceptable state. Restorative cleans, are typically not able to return a carpet to its original state. However a regular maintenance program can greatly increase the interval of time between such cleanings, which will result in the carpet retaining its appearance for a much long time. This is why getting your floors onto a program that is carefully planned and on schedule is essential for its long-term health.

An effective maintenance program consists of five key elements:

    •  Preventative Maintenance – basically a way to contain soil and other contaminants before they reach carpets. The primary approach here is mats at entrances and high traffic areas, which trap them before the spread to vulnerable areas. IT can also include other treatments like surface coatings on hard surface floors.
    • Vacuuming – daily cleaning is the primary approach to keeping your carpets healthy. It removes most of the deposited particulate matter on floors, which prevents damage.
    • Spot mark removal – These are typically unique events with unique chemistry. Many need a response within 48 hours otherwise they will leave a permanent stain.
    • Interim Cleaning – This can include deep carpet pile cleaning, or a extraction clean. These can be accomplished every few months.
    •  Restorative Cleaning – this usually entails a deep hot water extraction that removes deeply trapped soils and normally insoluble materials.

The Benefits of a One Source Vendor

A significant majority of our clients only contact us for a one type of service, like carpet cleaning or dryer vent cleaning. Yet our firm, like several others actually offer a wide array of services for residential buildings.


There are a number of benefits with going with a single provider for multiple services, over several different providers. Perhaps the most important is familiarity. A multi-service provider tends to have better corporate memory and internal communications: staff from one service line can provide their knowledge and advice to ones in others. They can point out a building’s unique requirements and identify efficiencies, which will improve the quality of service we can offer.

Furthermore one-stop vendors tend to be larger and have more stability in their staff. It is much more likely that the same individual(s) who completed the work the first time would be the same for subsequent visits. These factors result in one major benefit: reduced costs. One-stop venders pass on those efficiencies in terms of a discount as they expect to take less time to finish the same work.

A multiple service provider also greatly simplifies administration. With the overall cost reduction factored in, it is unlikely that three different service providers can offer a lower price than a bundled service package from one provider. In addition to these direct cost savings, there are indirect savings for the property manager, who does not need to manage bids for the different services. Furthermore any problem, especially complex ones, can be resolved more quickly as there is only one number to call.

So with better quality of service, lower costs and less administration, going with a bundled service makes sense. Call us today.

ServiceMaster Clean

Hard Surface – Floors – Salt It’s a Problem

The past week have seen snow and ice disappear from the cold snap that gripped the Lower IMG_0863Mainland following Christmas. But not everything has disappeared; salt residue remains on a number of hard surface floors and common hallway carpet. Although, it is somewhat ironic given the lengths residents went to obtain the stuff several weeks ago, now the residue can be extremely difficult to remove by normal cleaning solutions. Mopping with soap or other sanitizers are basically useless on hard surface floors, and may only serve to spread the discolouration around. Carpets face a different issue. There the salt, as well as mud and sand get into the carpet matrix, which requires significantly more work to remove.

The essential problem is that the residue has a very high Ph. that needs to be neutralized before it can be removed. Basic chemistry suggest you can use an acidic solution, but this presents a number of potential challenges that make it a less than desirable approach. We have several products that can neutralize the residue that can then be mopped up. For carpets this requires more subtle changes to the carpet cleaning approach. Our staff are trained to recognize the proper solution and approach to dealing residue, and can make quick work of the problem. So if you want to remove the last reminder of the cold winter weather, give us a call.

Slab Ducts – Dark Side Of Dryer Vent Cleaning

Over the course of the past 25 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes to buildings, IMG_8958their construction and designs. Dryer vents are no exception. The image most people have of dryer vents are round three to four inches in diameter circular metal pipe with a flap on the end. While this is a common (if not the most common) design, especially for low-rise buildings, there are a number of different configurations that are employed.

In a previous E-tips we highlighted that the greatest source of potential damage from uncleaned dryer vents is not fire, but moisture. As the air from the dryer becomes trapped, it condenses the moisture, which collects into pools and starts to wreak untold damage. They permeate into the surrounding concrete, and damage the overall structure. Such leaks tend to spread down to ceiling areas, leaving unsightly watermarks.

This is somewhat more common issue than people realize, particularly in high-rise buildings. Many use a rectangular shaped vent, which is sunk into cement prior to curing. While there is nothing particularly wrong with this design, the issue is with implementation. Often the duct runs are constructed with too many corners, quickly diminish the airflow’s strength. More alarmingly, many are only an inch in depth, which is insufficient to ensure proper air passage. Finally, many are damaged during construction, causing an obstruction that prevents air from passing altogether. We’ve seen all of these issues, and they can be extremely problematic.

Remedial work is often an expensive, and messy proposition. Repairing the concrete ductworkvents, if it is even an option, can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The alternative is to build a new duct run with a drop down ceiling. While less costly than concrete reconstruction, it can be aesthetically ugly and diminish a unit’s value.

While in some cases such work is unavoidable, there are alternatives to deal with these issues. Booster fans can be installed to provide extra airflow to overcome any existing issue. A proper exterior housing that provides no impedance to exiting air can help. In addition, preventative work can do quite a bit to ensure proper airflow. This includes regular cleanings of the system, with particular care for problem units. While this may require a few additional minutes of attention, it can avoid a far more costly repair job.

If you have a problem unit like this, give us a call. We can inspect the system and determine whether alternative approaches can ensure proper function, or major remedial work is required.

Snow & Salt Service

Keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice daily we can help 🙂 

With a week of sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice, the sidewalks around your buildings are probably looking pretty rough at this stage. They are becoming a treacherous safety hazard for people walking, cycling and even driving. As the property manager, it is one of the building’s responsibilities, but there is no established plan because these conditions are rare .

You may have hired someone to clean the area, or even had a resident selflessly volunteer their time, but the unrelenting bad weather has erased those efforts and you’re back at square one. Or the landscaping company that you have a standing contract with is swamped with requests and can’t make it. What to do?

ServiceMaster Clean Vancouver is offering a sidewalk & Entry Points cleaning service for the coming months. What’s included?

  • Clear snow from the full width of sidewalks that surround your property by 10:00am on the morning following a snowfall, seven days a week.
  • Daily Preventative salting to keep them clear between now and the next cleaning.

We have 3 Levels / Options For Service:

  • Automatic Call Out If Snows (Based on overnight Weather Network)
  • Automatic Call Out For Salting if it drops below 0 over night
  • On Call (You call us)

So if your sidewalks are looking like a Himalayan mountain path (and nearly as treacherous), and need a clean give us a call or email. We will set it all right.