Living Smart: Should I get a professional window cleaning?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Clean windows can make your home brighter and improve its overall appearance.

A professional window cleaning can also provide an early warning of potentially dangerous problems, according to owner Bill Volkart of Dazzle Services in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Here are some reasons you should consider hiring a professional window cleaning service to keep your windows sparkling and functional.

1. Saving time

Cleaning your windows can be a time-consuming project, according to Mike Giustino, owner of Affordable Window Cleaning in Round Lake, Ill.

Giustino says he can finish a project that would take a homeowner five hours in less than half the time.

2. Spotting general problems

A professional window washer can identify problems such as sashes that are painted shut, ill-fitting window screens, wood rot on windowsills or damaged or non-functional windows.

Spotting the problems early can often save you a big expense later, Volkart says — and it could even save your life.

"Little things like painted sashes and clogged channels might spell the difference between getting out in case of fire or being forced to take another way out of danger in a very stressful situation," Volkart says.

3. Removing insect infestations

Bees and hornets sometimes build nests behind window shutters, and wasps can build paper nests between three-piece storm windows, according to Volkart. Ladybugs also can build nests in channels, making the windows hard to operate.

4. Extending the life of a window

"Old aluminum screens left in place for years gradually etch a pattern of deposits on the glass, much like lime deposits in the shower," Volkart says. The etched glass is not only unattractive, but it is also more prone to cracks and chips.

A professional window washer can restore the glass and extend your window’s life with a treatment of muriatic acid or, in less severe cases, Bar Keepers Friend and grade 0000 steel wool, he says.

5. Providing the right window cleaning supplies and tools

Professional window cleaners can ensure that the right products are used to clean glass without damaging it.

If you have leaded glass or stained glass, you may be unintentionally damaging it by using an ammonia-based window cleaner, Volkart says. With repeated use, an ammonia-based cleaner can cloud leaded and stained-glass windows, and the damage can’t be repaired, he cautions.

Professional window washers also have the right equipment, such as ladders and telescoping window-washing tools, to safely clean hard-to-reach windows, according to Giustino.

6. Finding the cause of spots on your windows

Puzzled about what’s causing the spots on your glass? Your mulch may be to blame, Volkart says.

"Cheap mulches often are infested with a fungus aptly named shotgun fungus," he explains. "When mature, the fungus shoots out black spores that glue themselves to glass and vinyl siding and are very hard to remove completely."

A professional window-cleaning service can pinpoint the cause of the problem, and replacing your mulch with a higher-quality product can help your windows and siding stay cleaner and last longer, according to Volkart.

Before you hire a window cleaner

How much window cleaning costs varies, but Volkart says you usually get what you pay for. Anyone with a bucket, squeegee and window mop can call himself or herself a window cleaner.

"Ask questions before you hire just anyone," he advises. "A true professional will make sure your windows are not only clean, but functional and will advise you on ways to protect the biggest investment most people ever make — their home."

Giustino, who recommends getting your windows cleaned at least once per year, says it’s important to ask for references and read reviews before hiring a window washer.

"Ask them how long they’ve been in the business," he says.

Giustino also recommends asking companies whether they clean windows with a hose or a power washer, and what types of products they use to wash windows.