Gutter Vacuum Vehicle – Very Cool

We are excited to add the gutter vacuum truck to our “tool box” of gutter cleaning methods. Our crews have found it makes the the whole process, cleaner, safer, quicker and way cooler. Lets talk about each of these areas a little:

Cleaner – when cleaning gutters sometimes debris can dirty the outside of the gutter or drop to the ground
Safer – You can run the hose down long stretches or clean with a pole from the ground – reducing ladders setups and movements
Quicker– reducing setup time and a common collection tank also means jobs can be accomplished much faster than before.
Way Cooler – Its takes out the reaching into a gutter with your hand or a gutter spoon.

Some Techical items:
The unit is mounted in a Sprinter van, and can run up to four 200 foot hoses. The debris is vacuumed back into our tanks, where solids and water are separated in a tank filtering system.

Does this mean all the sites we service will be cleaned with the gutter vacuum truck? The gutter vacuum system is big part of our gutter cleaning methods, however it doesn’t replace our high ladder crew and rope access crews. Its real value is demonstrated in town house complexes where you can get access to most units via roadways.

The other area where the vacuum van will be helpful is parkade pressure washing projects where we can vacuum the water up as we pressure wash. This will leave a cleaner surface and also can be used for high capacity water extraction in large loss floods.

The gutter vacuum system and our gutter maintenance programs help us lead the way in modern gutter cleaning.

Gutter Maintenance Program – Update

So last weekend made it official: Fall is here. The leaves are changing and inclement weather is a reality. Perhaps some of you may have noticed some of your gutters aren’t working as well as they should.
But that problem probably did not just magically appear on Saturday: there likely were months of biological accumulation into your gutters that resulted in a blockage. Staying on top of it requires a year-round solution, not a “once a year cleaning” solution.
Many of our clients elect to be on one of our gutter maintenance programs. These are full year programs where we undertake a usual total clean, and then we also do service calls if there are any subsequent problems. 
Previously we capped the number of return visits 
moving forward, our gutter cleaning programs will now have Unlimited Number of Service Calls. 


The only exception to this is for certain buildings or
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complexes that requires two full cleanings a year. Usually they are located in heavily wooded areas where significant amounts of foliage drops throughout the year. We will clearly inform buildings of this requirement during a quote.
So this fall keep on top of your gutter problems by dealing with them before they actually become a problem.
For more information on our gutter cleaning service please CLICK HERE .

Modern Carpet Maintenance

whittakerWe’ve discussed carpet maintenance programs a number of times in E-tips and other articles. To maintain a carpet’s appearance far into the future, it is essential for it to be on a maintenance program. Manufacturers often require them to have a program to maintain their warranty status. They set this requirement to ensure that the damage to the carpet is not due to manufacturing defect.  A number of issues such as discolorations and greying out due to abrasion, can be largely prevented by regular carpet cleanings.

There is not just one approach to maintain a carpeted floor however.  In the past few years, carpet manufacturers have started to include the option of an intermediate clean, using what is called a “Whittaker.” Like how the company Xerox is synonymous with photocopying, Whittaker is a brand name of a type of agitating carpet cleaners currently on the market. Simply put, it uses two (or three) brush rollers that are spun in opposite directions at high speeds. This allows for what is called a deep pile cleaning, which is when the area at the bottom of the carpet fibers are agitated by the brush action. This helps to dislodge dust, dirt and other debris, which can later be picked up.

It should noted that Whittakers are really not intended to be used on their own, but rather in conjunction with a vacuum and a periodic hot water extraction. It does not have a traditional extraction system; the rollers will pick up most of the hairs and larger pieces, however dust and smaller particles will not be removed. That occurs either through the extraction clean or during a building’s regular vacuuming schedule. Whittakers are also designed to work with our existing cleaning products and crystallizers, which helps to remove stains and discolourations. They are activated when agitated by the rollers and then removed through the vacuum or extraction.

Functionally, you will not see any difference in how we offer Whittakers: we are using them regularly during maintenance cleanings in conjunction with a hot water extraction. The only obvious difference may be in how much cleaner the floor will look afterwards.

We also employ Whittakers in buildings with a program as an intermediate step between day-to-day vacuuming and a full extraction clean. In these cases we may use a Whittaker at a higher frequency to agitate the carpet to enhance the effectiveness of the building’s regular vacuuming. The Whittaker cannot deal with an entire range of stains and discolourations that are found on carpets, so a spot will be necessary as usual.

Gutter Guard Vs Gutter Foam – What Works In The West Coast Climate

Fall is upon us in the Lower Mainland and with it comes dropping leaves,


How Do You Clean This? 

as well as the heavy storms that will break branches and nettles from large evergreen trees. As a result, the health of a building’s gutters is at the top of many property managers’ minds. One approach to dealing with these issues that we see from time to time, is a leaf guard gutter. As you may have seen, this system basically adds a lip to the top of the gutter, which prevents leaves from entering into the channel. Although this is generally effective at its role, Leafguards are not well suited for the West Coast environment.

In particular the Lower Mainland has a very gutter-foam-2high number of conifers with nettles, like pines or hemlock. When their twigs and nettles fall, they bypass the guard and enter into the drainage canal and will start to form a slimy difficult to remove blockage over time. We have had dozens of these calls over the past few years, and they pose a problem: often the LeafGuard system’s warrantee is usually voided when opened up to clean. They still need to be cleaned but they cannot easily be opened and often can’t be opened without damage.

This year we are starting to deploy a new weapon in the war against clogged gutters; Foam Guards. As its name suggests, it is a foam insert that sits within the gutter, which allows for water and small particulates to travel unimpeded to the downspout while preventing larger debris from getting into the system. It is a dramatically more effective system in our climate. It is nearly impossible for debris to get into the system, and larger pieces of foliage are for the most part blown off the top due to wind and weather.

Although gutters with the foam guards still require a gutter-foamclean every year or two, they are far quicker than a normal cleaning call because they can be easily removed and without damaging the gutter system.

Perhaps the best part is that foam guards are significantly less costly than leafguards; and can be retrofitted into a building’s existing gutter systems in a tenth of a time it takes to install the alternative.

Best practice for gutter cleaning is be on a gutter maintenance program and to use gutter foam in challenged areas.

Real Time Field Management At Work – Real Time Updates & Reminders

In the last few weeks, some of you may IMG_0398have noticed that we’ve been sending some emails notifying you about scheduled services for the buildings you manage. This system is connected to our real-time field management software, and are tied to actual dates and events. Its part of our broader effort to bring you a higher level of service.
We currently send two emails. The first is a reminder for an upcoming service. We implemented this system because we noticed that building representatives often forgot about the upcoming work, or were never informed of the date it was scheduled for. Perhaps a more serious issue was the failure to post building notices. This would often cause problems: screens on windows were left up, residents were not home for dryer vent cleanings.
This was not always the fault of building representatives: the emails we send could be blocked or missed. Thus by sending a reminder, we ensure that everybody is on the same page as to the upcoming service.
The second email we send informs you of when a job is complete. Often, and especially for large technical work that my sprawl over a large complex, it is difficult to know when our staff has completed its assigned work. However by leveraging our field management systems, all work is marked complete by staff upon finishing their work. We then automatically send an email a few hours later based on that status change. While we originally thought of this as a courtesy email, we realized there was a very useful purpose for our customers: they could now bring up problems to correct.
The system is still fairly new, and there are still a kink or two to be worked out, but by far we’re pretty happy with the result. We hope that you will be too.

Oil stains in parkades: a difficult subject. 

Parkade cleanings are a common type of work we doIMG_9601 (1) in the summer months. The drier weather allow us to both power sweeping and pressure washing to get underground areas looking as best as we can. A difficult issue we commonly face are oil stains. While we always want leave a parkade looking as clean as the day it was built, oil stains are a nearly insurmountable challenge for our crews. The key  problem is that concrete’s porous nature, which the oil molecules are able to penetrate the surface and get locked in.
Our two primary cleaning methods have difficulty removing oil stains. Power sweeping really only cleans the surface layer, so it can’t get at the oil. Pressure washing can have substantially more effect, but its still unable to penetrate deeply enough to remove oil. Usually it leaves a stain looking much much better, but we frequently find that a feint outline of the stain remains. That’s partly because oil is insoluble in water, and the pressure washer only removes the discolourations on the uppermost layers. The deeper layers remain, which are almost impossible to remove. It is possible to improve this situation, but it requires several hours per stain applying different chemical treatment methods. Its uneconomical for the building to pay for such a service, and we usually recommend that it is the responsibility of a resident (it usually is for most buildings).

Fair Wage – Janitorial & Caretaker Management – Option For Our Customers

If we had to come up with one line description of ServiceMaster Clean’s photoJanitorial & Caretaker Management Services, it would be our commitment to providing a level of service at an affordable price. That’s not an easy balance to strike, The key part of that formula is finding and retaining the right staff, which can be difficult in the Lower Mainland. The high cost of living is a real problem, and we do what we can to help: we already offer higher than industry average salaries for many of our janitorial positions. Still we think this is not enough, which is being acknowledged elsewhere. Two years ago, Seattle introduced a $15 minimum wage, with Vancouver considering a living wage for its employees. We’d like to get ahead of the curve, by offering our clients the option to provide a guaranteed fair wage for our janitorial staff.
We believe there are a number of positive benefits for our clients when selecting this option. By ensuring our janitorial staff has a better quality of living, we keep them happy and engaged in their position, which is a critical part of the service industry. They take greater care in their position, leading to better outcomes in locations. Furthermore by retaining more of our staff they also develop greater familiarity with a location and its people, which means they can see potential problems before they escalate. At the same time, residents and representatives of the location may find them more approachable and can also work out issues before they get raised to the property manager attention. It’s a winning formula for all.
Now we want to stress a couple of things. We offer a janitorial management service, so the actual janitor wage (which is what fair wage will cover) only consists of 60% of the total cost. So if your strata selects the fair wage option, on average it will only result in a 15% increase. The other 40% covers all of the other services that ensure your building remains in tip top shape. This includes supervisors, the office, cleaning supplies, equipment and maintenance that we may include as part of a contract.  
Starting in August we will be providing a Fair Wage Option on all our Janitorial proposals. Again this is only an option, but we believe strongly it will improve the industry and the quality of service for the properties we serve.  All Fair wage Janitorial Management contracts will have a clause that guarantees that the cleaned serving their building will make no less than X. (We can show payroll records to verify etc…) 

Roof Treatment & Abatement – Best Time Of Year To Complete The Service

Roofs in the Lower Mainland face a rough life. Constantly bombarded by rain and shade,west coast style lowrise color they are a magnet for moss, mildew and algae that can severely curtail their lifespan. Removing them is one of our exterior cleaning services, and the best time to undertake this work is the late summer and fall when they are the drieest .  We use a                                             three-step process, which incorporates industry best practices to guide our approach.  
Step 1-  Air blower cleaning. 

In this stage we basically use high-pressure air to remove loose debris and a large portion of the growth. This allows us to gain better access to the underlying roof surface, without damaging the roof itself.

STEP  2 – Spray application of the Roof Abatement System.

This is really the most critical part of the process. We use a mild, wash safe, chemical that is wash safe to basically break down and kill all the growth on the roof. The system also is a preventative step: it delays future growth for a year or so, keeping the roof integrity intact. 

STEP 3 –Low pressure cleaning of roof surfaces.
            This step is performed with pressure washing equipment limted to a maximum pressure of 1700 PSI to prevent damage. The ensures all of the growth has been removed, any discoloration and dead growth is removed before the start of the rainy fall season.