Maintenance

Cleaning Glass

Cleaning Glass Structures

Click here to read AAMA’s Cleaning and Maintenance Guide to Glass Products

Cleaning the glass on structures, windows, and doors helps keep the view clear and maintains the aesthetics of the structure; keeping the glass clean will also help keep the aluminum clean by eliminating another outlet for dirt filled run-off to streak the finish. It is recommended to clean the glass on a cloudy or mild day to minimize streaking.

Solar Innovations, Inc. has a strong initiative for green solutions, so we personally use and recommend a mixture of vinegar, detergent, and water. This solution will not harm the environment or the aluminum finish and greatly reduces streaks. The makeup of the solution we use at our facility is as follows:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 ounces of vinegar
    • More or less vinegar may be needed based on the mineral content of your water
  • 1-2 drops of dish detergent
    • Adding more detergent will make the water too foamy and will not provide the desired result

Apply the mixture with a soft sponge, and wash away the dirt. Use a rubber squeegee to remove excess moisture after washing. It is not necessary to rinse the glass after washing, as this will only create streaks and provide no further cleansing.


Interior Glass Structure CleaningCleaning Aluminum

Click here to read the AAMA Aluminum Cleaning and Maintenance Guide

When it comes to maintaining the pristine finish of your aluminum structure, the most important thing is to keep the finish clean and free from pollutants. Build-up of dirt and pollutants on the surface can accelerate the weathering and corrosion of the finish. Keeping the finish clean can help limit further and more costly maintenance in the future.

Cleaning the aluminum on your structure should be done on a cloudy, mild day, at the same time as the glass. When beginning to clean, first flush the surface of the structure with clean water; this will remove loose debris and assist in loosening debris that is adhered to the structure. After flushing the surface, use a mild soap or detergent with a sponge to wash the aluminum. A mild soap or detergent that is safe for bare hands should be safe for the aluminum coating. A nylon cleaning pad may be necessary if the metal is heavily soiled. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water after washing.

A mineral spirits may be used to remove grease, sealants, or caulking compounds from the painted surface. Use a diluted solution of under 10% muriatic acid to remove concrete that has spilled on the aluminum. Excess silicone can be removed with a razor blade followed by an isopropyl alcohol wipe down to remove residue.

The frequency of cleaning your glass and finishes will vary upon your geographic location. Dirt and pollutants are more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas and require more frequent cleaning. Avoid cleaning in extreme weather conditions, such as intense heat or intense cold.


Preventative Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

Proper maintenance over the years can help eliminate one of the most common concerns we see: moisture within the system. Checking and replacing the sealant within the system can ensure moisture remains outside of your structure to prevent build-up and damage on the interior of the system. Prevent issues before they occur to ensure the longevity of your structure. Below you will find a few major points we notice on a regular basis as the Solar team makes service calls to structure owners of all manufacturers.

Making the proper sealant choice with the commencement of service will achieve a strong contact between the glass and glazing bar. Solar Innovations, Inc. uses only the highest quality sealant – GE’s Silpruf.


Operable Units Maintenance

Regular lubrication with a silicone spray or white lithium grease can help lubricate actuators and hinges in operational equipment. Tracks for operable doors and windows should be vacuumed out when dirt collects in the track and then lubricated with a Teflon or silicon spray.


Greenhouse Accessory Maintenance

A greenhouse has many working parts that interact with water, which can be detrimental to long term function, if they are not properly cared for. There are several minor annual maintenance items which can extend the life of your greenhouse environment.

Before beginning any maintenance on your greenhouse growing accessories, you MUST disconnect the power to the accessories.

Evaporative Coolers: Fall – reservoirs should be drained and all pads should be removed and air dried for the winter. Spring – when units are turned on for the season, check all mist nozzles and reservoirs are free of debris for proper operation.

Jet Fogger

Foggers: Annual – Check the internal sump pump for free float operation. Clear all parts of residuals water build up and mineral deposits with a small brush. These deposits may be common as foggers atomize water and blow it throughout the greenhouse to maintain humidity and aid in cooling by evaporation. This fogger has mineral deposits on the casing.

Misting Systems: Use a small brush (ie: toothbrush) to remove any build-ups of minerals, similar to that of a fogger.


Cleaning your grow light

Grow Lights: The exposed surfaces of the grow lights should be cleaned of any excessive build up; this can be removed with a damp cloth.

Horizontal Air Flow Fans Including Louvers: These air moving devices, shown in the picture, are subject to any particulates floating throughout the greenhouse. An annual visual inspection will reveal any cleaning needs. Use a damp cloth and small brush to remove any particulates.

Shade Systems: Shade tracks should be inspected annually for build up of any foreign substance on the track. The application of any upholstery grade silicone in the track housing will ensure trouble free operations. A visual inspection of the draw strings will help ensure they are properly wrapping on the tube rollers. Make adjustments as required to enhance performance.

Eviromental Control systems

Ridge and Eave Vents: Complete an annual visual inspection to be sure proper seals exist. It is also important NOT to operate your ridge or eave vents with snow or ice accumulation upon them, as the weight can distress the motor and operating parts, causing severe damage

Heaters: Be sure to review the temperature setting for your greenhouse before the winter weather hits, especially if you intend to keep plants in the greenhouse during the winter months.

Environmental Control Systems: Be sure to review all of your environmental control system settings to ensure they are dialed in to keep your greenhouse in the right state year round.



Controlling Moisture and Mold

Preventing mold and mildew in a building or home can prevent several environmentally: controlled illnesses from becoming a greater problem. Asthma and allergies, the two main illnesses directly resulting from mold and mildew, are the direct result of an uncontrolled interior or exterior environment. Controlling your environment is the most important thing you can do to prevent the infestation of mold.

Two things must be present in the environment for mold to grow. An organic food source, such as dirt, dust, food and moisture. When mold becomes apparent, the first step is to find the source of growth and eliminate it. Mold can grow back in 72 hours given the right conditions. Controlling the moisture level in your environment will control mold growth and other unsightly conditions, such as condensation and water marks/ stains.

On its Website, the EPA suggests many ways to control moisture:
• Fix all leaks and seepage.
• Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawlspaces to prevent moisture coming from the ground.
• Use exhaust fans to move moisture to the exterior.
• Turn off appliances, such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters, if moisture is present on glass.
• Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce moisture in the air.

Once the sources of the mold are eliminated and the environment dries, the following steps can be used to remove the mold already present:
• Purchase a mask and use rubber gloves.
• Apply a 10% bleach solution (your local home improvement store will carry mold removing solutions; however, bleach is the most recommended by the EPA).
• Dry all surfaces thoroughly.
• Carpeting or fabrics and ceiling tiles may need to be replaced once they become moldy.

The final steps in maintaining a mold- and mildew-free environment are to keep it dry and keep it clean!


Caring For Your Sunroom

It might be difficult to maintain a dry and clean environment in your sunroom, especially when you have a number of plants in the area. Get to know your greenhouse/sunroom. What happens to your room when the outside temperature changes? Proper use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers, thermostats, and moisture gauges can help control moisture levels; thus, helping to prevent mold and mildew within your room.

Mold can grow also grow on the exterior of the room. Since the exterior climate and moisture cannot be controlled, it is important to focus on the mold’s food source. Leaves and dirt are natural organic food sources. Periodically cleaning the outside glass and frame will help prevent mold growth. Keeping weep holes clear and unclogged for proper weeping of the room will also aid in the moisture control inside the room.

 

For a full review of EPA guidelines, you may view the following publications online at: www.epa.gov/
“A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home” and “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings”


Moisture on Windows

Your humidification is set too high if excessive moisture collects on windows and other cold surfaces. Excess humidity for a prolonged time can damage walls, especially when outdoor air temperature are very low. Excess moisture condenses on window glass because the glass is cold. Other sources of excess moisture, besides overuse of a humidifier, may be long showers, running water for other uses, boiling or steaming in cooking, plants, and drying clothes indoors. A tight, energy efficient house will hold more moisture inside; thus, making it more important to control the moisture levels. Humidifiers are not recommended for use in buildings without proper vapor barriers because of potential damage from moisture buildup. Use a humidity indicator to measure the relative humidity in your
house.

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