Put Cleaning At the Top of Your Mind

Words: Ron Baer

At the recent World of Concrete convention, contractors from all over the country had a great opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. To see the best of the best masons, and to see all kinds of labor-saving devices and technology for new and restoration masonry projects. Many contractors reported using technological advances to remain vital and viable, improving worker safety and productivity. However, we realized there was still one area of the masonry business where improvement has not been readily accepted and, amazingly, is still being done in the old ways. Accepting new and better ways of cleaning has been neglected and rejected. Buckets, brushes, garden hoses, or pressure washers designed for washing cars and patios are still for many in the trade the accepted, or in some cases the compromised, tools. Cleaning is a significant cost element and, most importantly, the last step in completing your work, the step that leaves the final impression, and the step your work will be judged by. If it’s not cleaned well, it’s not done well.

Why is it that cleaning lags behind other processes in advancement and labor savings? The major factor we hear is “fear”. That fear comes in two flavors: Owners have heard, or maybe even experienced horror stories when washing was not done properly and the work needed remediation. The second source of fear is from the people actually doing the cleaning. They fear doing something wrong or breaking something and being reprimanded or, worse, losing their job.

In both of these cases, the owner is, in effect, paying for unnecessary insurance against avoidable problems by enduring and accepting the higher cost of cleaning by using less productive tools and materials, which they believe are “safer,” even when the belief is imagined.

As with any risk, it is much better to mitigate the risk than to insure against it or suffer the loss. But how do you reduce cleaning risk? The answer is in your hands right now. Page through the MASONRY Magazine you are reading right now. There is an ad by Prosoco for their products and one from Kem-O-Kleen for cleaning equipment. These suppliers, as MCAA Masonry Alliance Program partners, both supporting the masonry industry, have invested years, careers and dollars to keep your cleaning operation safe and efficient. Look to Prosoco to identify the right product for each job. They have the answers. Look to Kem-O-Kleen, as masonry contractors have for over 50-years, for the right equipment and right procedures for every job. Both these companies, and all the other Masonry Alliance Program partners, advertise so you know where to go for time-tested answers and solutions. They are the alternative to make-do and inefficient profit-robbing materials and machines. Doing your jobs with the right materials and the right tools and equipment is the way to do it right. It’s also the way you support the companies who know your industry and support you and your trade.

Prosoco knows your cleaning challenges presented by different substrates. They formulate products for each one and subcategories of them. For example, colored block needs a different formulation than gray, and they have it. If you don’t have their Product Guide, request a copy! Using products not formulated for your job will lead to burnt and discolored surfaces, to slow cleaning and wasted labor and material dollars. Mitigate the risk of using the wrong product with advice from the experts.

Kem-O-Kleen equipment is designed for cleaning new and restoration masonry. It enables you to use the correct amount of water, hot or cold, to properly pre-wet the surface and then to completely rinse off all the cleaning product, avoiding most problems with efflorescence. To clean in the method that works best for the job, and mitigate risk, you can apply the cleaning chemical, everything from detergents to acid-based products, either with water at controlled pressure, or without water in the exact dilution recommended by the chemical manufacturer. Mitigate the risk of using too much pressure or too much water, a major source of cleaning problems with advice from the experts.

Avoid slow cleaning by ditching those old ways of cleaning which means longer time on the jobsite, delayed re-employment of scaffolding, equipment, and manpower and slower payment from your customer. It leads to worker fatigue and longer exposure to potential dangers.

Look to the cleaning experts to mitigate your risk and save your money. They have spent years designing the right products, procedures and equipment to do the masonry cleaning job right. As Masonry Alliance Program partners, they are committed to you and the industry. Don’t accept risk – mitigate it by talking to the experts and implementing their products and advice.

About The Author
Ron Baer, President of Kem-O-Keen, has spent 37 years in the masonry industry, promoting proper and successful cleaning.

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