If you are afraid of heights, then window cleaning is the job for you! There is no better way to overcome your fear of heights then being up on a ladder every day. Unfortunately window cleaning does demand ladder work, even if you clean windows with a water fed pole. Although it can be worse, you could be a high rise window cleaner scaling down several stories with ropes or cranes. Unless you clean single story only, you will find yourself on a ladder sooner or later.
For your average residential window cleaner there are some basic size ladders to consider and some methods of maneuvering those ladders that can save you time and energy. I clean two story homes and on occasion three story. So I will be directing my comments for window cleaners who plan to go at least two and possibly three stories.
There are a few size ladders out there. I personally own a sixteen foot and a twenty four foot ladder, plus a step ladder. When I first started window cleaning I owned a twenty eight foot ladder, which is as large as I would recommend for a single person. Anything over twenty eight should really be handled by two people. A twenty eight is not light to maneuver with and use, but it will certainly build muscle. The twenty eight is necessary if you are considering three stories and will really be pushing the limits for the third story.
The twenty four foot is perfect if you only plan to clean two stories, and you will rarely find any challenges for reaching second story windows. The twenty four is also about twenty five pounds lighter than the twenty eight. I love how light the twenty four is, but sometimes I wish I still had a twenty eight for those tough windows that are just a little too high, taking me out of my comfort zone to clean them. If you are new to windows I highly recommend getting the twenty eight even though it is heavier. You do not want to have your twenty four fully extended with you standing on the top two rungs reaching for the top of the window trying to clean, squeegee and detail the window on a hot windy day. Talk about scary, it’s scary enough with the right size ladder when you first start out, just reaching for your washing wand and squeegee not wanting to let go of the ladder.
Now the reason I don’t have the twenty four and a twenty eight is my rack only holds two ladders and I also own a sixteen foot ladder. This ladder is so light it’s like heaven when you only have to use it. I wield it around with one arm. The sixteen is the ladder you will take inside the home most of the time for those vaulted ceilings with second story windows. Although, sometimes you have to take in the twenty four, which is better then taking in a twenty eight. Also the sixteen is sometimes just the right size on certain situations on the outside, where the twenty four is to tall.
The last ladder is the step ladder which is three to four feet tall. This is handy if you don’t use the pole a lot. I like to be right up on the window where I can see everything on the window, that way I don’t miss any spots and it’s also a shorter distance for possible dripping inside the home. I believe the pole method is faster however once you have it down.
When it comes to the larger ladders there is something you must have and that is ladder levelers. Ladder levelers allows you to set the ladder up on uneven terrain. They give you about an extra foot or so to work with. You can buy ladder levelers and attach them to the ladder or buy a ladder with them already built in. I don’t think the built in ones are as nice or work as well. I also prefer the ones that have round feet at the bottom as opposed to the square kind. Since we are talking accessories you also want to buy ladder mitts for the tops so you don’t scratch up the walls.
When it come to maneuvering the ladder there is one very important technique that I learned. Once you have your ladder up right, don’t take it back down unless you have too! When you move the ladder to the next window, move it upright. The way to do this is to pull the ladder away from the wall so it’s straight up and down. Then stand up against the side of the ladder with it in front of you. Next place your strong arm straight up without a full extension but close to fully extended and grab the nearest rung. Grab with your other hand the nearest rung that is about waist high. Now with a good grip push straight up in the air so that your strong arm is fully extended and lock your arm. Use your lower arm to help hold and balance the ladder. You can also use your body against the ladder to help balance it. Now simply walk with your ladder to the next window.
This straight arm technique will save you time and energy. Be sure to look at your path above you and in front of you before you lift the ladder and begin walking. You do not want to hit trees, a satellite dish, the house or anything for that matter. This can cause the ladder to fall over and destroy property, thus ruining your day! I recommend practicing with the sixteen first.