Why Façade Safety Repairs are Crucial for Building Integrity

Fissures and cracks are whispers from your building’s façade, warning you it’s time to take action. Those whispers can quickly turn into roars if not addressed appropriately. What is your building’s façade telling you? Early detection and mediation of façade safety repairs can save hundreds of thousands in future repair costs and help you avoid potential liabilities. This article will guide you through why routine maintenance and quick remediation of façade safety repairs are the not-so-secret ingredients in preserving your building’s structural integrity.

Is Your Building’s Façade Unsafe?

Unlike your car, your building doesn’t come with a check-engine light. For this reason, to quickly identify façade safety issues, we recommend routine inspections and assessments. Many cities mandate façade safety inspections. The building’s height, age, and construction types all factor into the requirements.

More importantly, passing an inspection doesn’t remove liability from the building owner should part of the façade fail. For this reason, we suggest inspecting your façade at least 2-3 times per year. Emergency façade safety repairs are safety concerns on the exterior of the building that need to be fixed ASAP. Examples include a window mullion dangling off the side of the building or loose stone/stucco/EIFS or architectural elements on the building walls. Items will eventually fall off the building or permeate into other structural elements that jeopardize the entire building’s structural integrity.

For example, despite passing inspections in 2022, a building in Willmington, North Carolina, suffered a façade collapse, causing damage to cars and awnings and minor injuries to one individual.

Three years after initial reports of façade failures, a building partially collapsed. Despite safety concerns, no further inspections occurred, and repairs were never completed, citing COVID for the delay. This reinforces the need to address façade failures when they occur and develop a proactive approach to maintaining a safe façade.

Why Façade Safety Repairs Are Not Just Cosmetic

Your façade is critical to upholding your property’s value, but the benefits extend beyond aesthetics. A well-maintained façade provides energy efficiency, promotes safety, and is your first defense against the elements.

Recognizing the Signs of Facade Deterioration

Many factors determine what to look for, including façade material, building design, façade access, and environmental conditions. For these reasons, the more you understand your building’s unique needs, the faster you can spot building façade safety issues and how to remedy them.

  • Concrete: Cracking and spalling, stains, peeling, cracking, blistering, or pinholes.
  • Brick, Masonry, & Stone: Cracking and spalling, stains, rusting, loose mortar, or biological growth.
  • Balconies & Decks: Standing water, cracks, rusting, damaged coating, loose railings, rot.
  • EIFS and Stucco: Blisters, bulging, staining, loose stucco, or surface damage.
  • Curtain Wall: Loose or missing gaskets or mullions.

These are the more obvious warning signs your building façade needs emergency attention. Without immediate repairs, façade damage poses a risk to public safety from falling items that could lead to injuries or worse. In addition, neglect will drive more extensive measures for repairs and can result in violations or fines.

The A1 Approach to Façade Safety

At A1, we recognize that the façade of your building plays a crucial role in its overall safety and structural integrity. With decades of industry experience, our approach to façade safety centers on prevention, maintenance, and stringent inspections. These skills allow our expert teams to identify early signs of deterioration, such as cracking, spalling, or other structural weaknesses. With A1, you have a partner you can count on to maintain façade safety.

Emergency Façade Repair in Action

Quick action by the property manager at The Water’s Edge at Rahway allowed for rapid balcony restoration, sealant replacement, and EIFS repair. Our sister company, Valcourt’s, ProXpress team began with a full assessment to investigate the damage. The work involved removing portions of the damaged façade and replacing the railing. The result? A return to manufacturer’s standards and appealing aesthetics with minimal disruption to residents.

When an apartment complex in Philadelphia began experiencing leaks, they called on the ProXpress team for rapid leak detection and repair. The team quickly identified the cause of the leak and began carefully removing layers of brick and debris to replace the membrane and flashing. Next, they took preventative measures to divert water before replacing the brick to match the building’s exterior.

A1 is committed to maintaining the highest standards of façade safety. We provide comprehensive solutions that fix existing problems and take proactive measures to enhance your building’s resistance against future façade damage.

Comprehensive Façade Safety Repairs

Regarding façade safety repairs, it pays to act fast. Minor façade issues grow in scope, cost, and risk when left untreated.

We offer peace of mind, knowing that your property is in expert hands and protected against current and future challenges. Contact us today and see how we can collaborate to address all your façade safety repair needs.


two men inspecting commercial building facade preventative maintenance

Prioritizing Safety of Building Façade Access and Fall Protection

Your building’s façade conveys the first impression of aesthetics and serves as your first line of defense against environmental factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires you, as a building owner, to mitigate risks and provide a safe working environment for those performing work on your building, including general maintenance. This article covers the essential role of safety measures in mitigating risks through safe building façade access and proper fall protection.

The Significance of Safe Building Façade Access

Building collapses are rare. The risk of that happening poses a significant threat to public safety. For this reason, many of our major cities in the U.S. have façade ordinance laws that require inspections. Here are some examples:

  • Chicago is home to the Willis Tower, the treasure of the Windy City skyline. Our nation’s third-tallest building, including antennas, reaches 1,750 feet. Depending on the type of building, Chicago requires façade inspections to occur between four and 12 years for buildings over 80 feet tall.
  • Philadelphia was home to the world’s tallest building from 1894 to 1908. Nowadays, Philly boasts nearly 60 skyscrapers. Façade inspections are required every five years for buildings exceeding six stories or with an appurtenance taller than 60 feet.

Safe building façade access facilitates inspections while allowing you to maintain and repair your façade, addressing minor issues before they become big problems. Window cleaning, pressure washing the façade, and leak repairs allow you to extend the life of your building, preserving its value while protecting the public. In addition, safe access is critical to creating the safe working environment OSHA requires, along with proper training, equipment, and protocols.

Overview of Building Façade Access Methods

Accessing the façade, especially on taller buildings, is not for the faint of heart. Workers need to feel physically and psychologically safe when performing façade work. This environment allows them to maintain their focus, keep safety at the forefront, and actively speak up about safety concerns. The equipment they use to traverse the façade has many shapes and forms.

  1. Rope Descent Systems (RDS): Think of rappelling, but for work! Workers use ropes to descend the side of the building for window cleaning or minor repairs on high-rise buildings.
  • Pro: It’s quicker to set up, less bulky, and more cost-effective than scaffolding.
  • Cons: There’s a height limit of 300 feet by OSHA standards due to the combined risk of lengthy rope and wind.
  1. Suspended Scaffolding: When scaffolding from the ground up isn’t enough, scaffolds can suspend from an overhead structure, allowing workers to move to the desired level.
  • Pro: It’s stable, can handle a lot of weight, and allows multiple workers and equipment to operate on the platform at once.
  • Con: It takes time to set up and take down and can be expensive and obstructive.
  1. Lifts (Aerial Lifts and Booms): Because they offer mobility, aerial lifts provide more flexibility than ladders and scaffolding. In extreme cases, boom lifts can reach a couple hundred feet but mainly provide façade access for the first few stories of a building.
  • Pro: They’re fast and flexible.
  • Con: They can only reach some places, are costly to rent, and are limited by the ground around the building, such as uneven surfaces or space constraints.
  1. Building Maintenance Units (BMU): These are permanent setups on the tops of the tallest skyscrapers. They’re like a little car on a track going around the roof, lowering a platform down the side.
  • Pros: They can cover the entire building and are reusable.
  • Cons: They are expensive to install and maintain and are only financially viable with tall or complex buildings.

Every method requires specific training and routine inspection to ensure safety and meet OSHA fall protection regulations.

Identifying Your Building’s Façade Access Needs

The primary goal is to create and maintain a safe working environment for anyone accessing your building façade. Begin with assessing your building’s architecture, safety incidents or concerns, and recent façade inspections.

A1 assesses your façade access needs with a full inspection and a customized plan to achieve compliance. You can rest easy, as our expert team takes the worry of non-compliance off your plate. Our end-to-end solutions cover design and installation, followed by post-install support for testing and certification.

Elevating Safety for Building Façade Access

Whether you are a building owner, an employer, or a worker at heights, you have a role in fall protection. Each role relies on the other to carry out its respective responsibilities to ensure safety and reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from falls.

A1 stands at the forefront of safety. We are ready to assist you in getting your property up to speed in terms of safety, OSHA compliance, and aesthetics. Contact A1 for information on examining your façade access needs and fall protection systems.

The Role of Pressure Washing in Maintaining Your Building’s Exterior

Adding pressure washing to your routine building maintenance strategy is a simple yet effective way to achieve a clean and attractive facade. In spite of its simplicity, pressure washing is an often neglected strategy for maintaining a building’s exterior thought to be reserved for the toughest of stains or addressing years of neglect.

Pressure washing revitalizes surfaces by cleaning and removing pollutants such as oils, mold, graffiti, and rust, thus making your building appear years younger. However, removing all those pollutants also contributes to your building’s structural longevity and can make walkways safer. In this article, we will walk you through the ins and outs of pressure washing, including what you should pressure wash and what you shouldn’t, along with the benefits of adding pressure washing to your routine property maintenance and spring cleaning.

The Dual Benefits of Pressure Washing: Aesthetic and Structural

In spite of its deep roots in physics, pressure washing is fairly straightforward. A water pump accelerates water creating a high-pressure stream. The water is then directed through a hose and out a spray wand. Users can tackle different levels of cleaning tasks by adjusting the pressure and changing the nozzle.

Getting the most out of your commercial property requires proper maintenance that addresses its aesthetic appeal and structural integrity. Pressure washing shines in this facet, as it supports both of these goals. Leveraging this type of facade maintenance will improve your curb appeal, thus adding value. In addition, pressure washing can also remove harmful pollutants capable of breaking down sealants and other vital materials designed to protect your property.

Can You Pressure Wash Your Building’s Facade? 

The type of material being pressure washed, the level of pressure, and the nozzle all factor into whether or not you can pressure wash your facade. The pressure or water flow is measured by pounds per square inch (PSI) or gallons per minute (GPM). To better understand this, let’s take a look at the three levels of pressure washers.

  • Light-duty pressure washers – up to 1900 PSI (2 GPM) and are designed for residential requirements.
  • Heavy-duty pressure washers – top out at 2800 PSI (3 GPM) and can tackle most commercial requirements.
  • Industrial pressure washers – max out around 7000 PSI (5 GPM) and are more efficient at taking on the toughest tasks.

To put that in perspective, an automatic car wash operates at 1,000 – 1,200 PSI, while a pressure washer up to 7000 PSI can remove graffiti and paint and cut through wood. The U.S. General Services Admission (GSA) advises against pressure washing porous materials (red brick, marble, stone, etc.) due to the risk of severe damage.

The nozzle on the pressure washer determines the cleaning pressure. Without the nozzle, you would just have a motor-powered garden hose. The lower the angle of the nozzle, the more intense the spray pattern. For instance, a 0o spray pattern produces a laser-esque stream useful for tough jobs, while a 40o spray pattern is wider and softer, making it ideal for more delicate surfaces. Turbo nozzles rotate and, when combined with a 0o spray pattern, have more power and cover more ground which can speed up the cleaning process.

You must also factor in the materials you are pressure washing, as using the wrong combination of pressure and nozzle can damage them or produce poor results. Companies providing professional pressure washing services often have specialized equipment to transport pressure washing equipment to hard-to-reach spaces or where water is inaccessible.

So the answer is “Yes”, you can pressure wash your facade if you do it correctly. This is where leaning on professional expertise can make all the difference. Professional pressure washing companies know what PSI, nozzle, and technique each job requires without damaging your property. Next, we will cover which technique works best in various situations.

Choosing the Right Technique: High PSI vs. Soft Washing

Soft washing offers a gentler approach through low-pressure water, often combined with specialized cleaning solutions. This technique effectively removes dirt, algae, moles, and other contaminants and is ideal for those porous surfaces we mentioned. High PSI pressure washing harnesses the power of high-pressure water to tackle tough stains and build-up on durable surfaces. It’s an excellent choice for areas that endure heavy use and require deep cleaning.

Ideal Applications for Each Method

  • High PSI Pressure Washing
    • Sidewalks and curbs: Removes gum, stains, moss, mold, and grime effectively.
    • Walkways and retaining walls: Cleans deep-seated dirt and revitalizes the appearance.
    • Loading docks and dumpster pads: Essential for sanitation, and removing oil, grease, and debris.

Just like doing dishes at home, hot water works best for the toughest jobs. When high PSI isn’t enough, hot-pressure washers may be required to achieve the desired results. Rusting, for instance, is extremely difficult to remove. It’s also a good sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, or that same rusting will return.

  • Soft Washing
    • Exterior facades: Protects against damage while cleaning, especially those made of materials like vinyl, wood, Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), or certain types of stone and brick.
    • Roofs and gutters: Removes mold and mildew without risking structural damage.
    • Landscaped areas: Using harmful chemicals to speed up the cleaning process can easily create a costly landscaping problem. Areas above sensitive vegetation require a mix of gentle psi and the proper chemical that gets the desired result while taking avoidable damage out of play.

With the right technique, pressure washing keeps your property clean and well-maintained, preventing costly repairs.

Revitalize Your Property with Pressure Washing Services 

Pressure washing revives your property, improves safety, and removes harmful contaminants capable of causing damage. It’s an effective way of keeping your property looking its best and a must-add for most property’s year-round upkeep. We take on pressure-washing projects of all scopes and sizes, including facades, parking garages, loading docks, and more. Here are some features that help us stand out from the crowd.

  • Pressure Washing Expertise: Our pressure-washing team knows precisely what technique, nozzle, and angle to use on various building surfaces.
  • High-Rise Pressure Washing: We understand what it takes to pressure wash the highest heights with the utmost safety precautions.
  • Sustainability Mindset: When jobs arise that require chemicals, we leverage our expertise to choose the appropriate chemical cleaning solution to restore your facade’s appearance without harming your facade or the environment.

Contact us today for a quote, and let our team exceed your expectations.