Are they bug poop? Fly spots? Holly bush seeds? Jealous neighbor’s prank?
Ever see tiny little black dots covering your windows and stuck to the side of your house? They are annoying, unsightly, and a pain in the booty to get off. Even if you scrape off the hard-outer part, it still leaves a small brown blemish on the surface of your windows and sidings. What exactly are these little buggers and how does one remove and prevent them effectively?
When we moved here to Kentucky we had our first encounter with these little nasties while working on a home. Imagine our dismay when we realized that every window was covered in them and each would have to be carefully scraped off, making sure not to scratch the windows in the process. When we questioned the homeowner, the response was that they were little fly spots. Brrrnn, WRONG!
After some research we discovered that it is called Artillery Fungus. Yes, aptly named because the fungus can shoot its spores at light-colored house-siding, fences, windows, and cars. These tough little fungi grow and develop in mulch made from wood during cool and damp conditions. The “Shotgun” fungus can then shoot their spores as high as 20 feet into the air!
Once attached to your house it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove them. As demonstrated in the video, it usually requires use of scrapers to effectively remove them from the glass. This certainly adds an extra step to outside window cleaning and increases the use of ladders in place of poles.
When artillery fungus is on your sidings, it’s even a greater problem. Even a professional soft wash of your house which will remove most of the organic debris from the sidings will only be effective if the fungus is very very fresh. So, unfortunately, most of the times pressure washing will not remove these pesky things. You will need to scrub with Mr. Magic Eraser (they’re amazing in so many ways!) or use a plastic scraper very gently with lubrication to remove them. Since they can be as high up as 20 feet from the ground, this can be a challenging task! In order to stop further attacks to your house exterior, you can remove the infected mulch from the surrounding areas of your house and replace it with new mulch.
Leave the windows to professionals because you can scrape the spores off your windows, but if not done correctly you could cause harmful scratches and damage to your windows and their seals. Some frustrated home owners even consider moving mulched areas away from the immediate vicinity of their house. If you’re in the greater Lexington KY area, give us Infinity Pro Clean pros a call for residential window cleaning, house wash (soft wash), and any other pressure washing needs. We will be happy to help and share our expertise on the maintenance of your property.
“What exactly are these little buggers and how does one remove and prevent them effectively?”
The first multi-position, or as some call it, the “do-it-all” ladder I had my hands on made me almost quit window cleaning on my first day. It was this 26-footer Werner ladder that weighed a ton and the moment I tried to lift it, I knew I wasn’t cut out for it. It was an absolute pain to carry it around let alone adjust lengths. Thankfully, I decided to hit the gym instead and keep my brand new window cleaning career. Even then, when it came time for me to buy ladders, I elected for an extension ladder and a step ladder (also known as A-ladder) instead of a multi-position even though I really could have benefited from the compact form. I also worked with a window cleaner friend a day or two a week to supplement income and whenever I had to handle his 22-footer Werner multi-position ladder, I hated it.
Fast forward to earlier this month, I paid $320 for a high-end Little Giant multi-position ladder that comes with all the bells and whistles. What changed? I was at Costco the other day and stumbled upon a 17-footer Little Giant they carry. I couldn’t believe how light, compact and maneuverable it was! And, it was supposed to reach a majority of the 2nd story windows which is really all I need a ladder for. It also came with wheels, so I don’t have to carry it around! Upon research, I found out that Little Giant makes the best of the best multi-position ladders, a true pioneer in the industry. Having a data analyst background, I researched quite possibly every multi-position made on earth. After days (yes, days) of research, I decided on Little Giant Revolution 17-ft (actual extended length 15 ft) with Ratchet Leg Levelers (Model #12017-801). Then, Amazon messed up my order and sent me a Little Giant Xtreme 17-ft, also with Ratchet Leg Levelers (Model # 12317-801). Since I kind of wished that there was a comparison review for these two ladders, when I finally received my correct order and Amazon asked me to just keep the incorrect order, I decided to do this review!
Why These Two:
Multi-position ladders are available in four lengths by major manufacturers: 13 ft (actual extended length 11 ft), 17 ft (15 ft), 22 ft (19 ft), and 26 ft (23 ft). I feel that the 17-ft multi-position ladder is the best first ladder for most home-owners as well as many contractors who won’t need to reach all the way to the 2nd story roof.
After Little Giant shook the ladder market with their invention, many manufacturers started making multi-position ladders. Notable ones are Werner, Gorilla Ladders, Cosco (not Costco), and Harbor Freight. As of today, Werner multi-position ladders are still too heavy and use the older U-Pin Locks for height adjustment which is just not very convenient. The same can be said with Cosco and Harbor Freight lines. Gorilla Ladders’ newest MPX line, on the other hand, is a huge improvement over their last one. It boasts 375-lb load capacity over Little Giant’s 300-lb for their non-fiberglass lines. It also started using Twist Locks (they call these Speed Locks) which are also used by Little Giant on their high-end Quantum line for height adjustment. The weight also came down significantly and Gorilla MPX ladders are usually only 2-3 pounds heavier than their Little Giant counterparts. Given that the price is almost always less for Gorilla ladders sometimes by as much as $150 or so, they’re a great option. However, I feel that Little Giant’s Rock Locks used on most of their lines such as LT, Velocity, Revolution, and Xtreme are the easiest way to adjust ladder height in most situations. Also, the Revolution, Xtreme, and Quantum lines use Quad Pin Hinges as opposed to Dual Pin Hinges used on other Little Giant models and all of the models offered by other manufacturers. Little Giant ladders already have a firmer, stiffer feel at the hinges, a mark of higher quality craftsmanship, but these 4-Pin Hinges add even more stability and I feel safer with them as someone who uses ladders on a daily basis at jobsite. In addition, the optional built-in Ratchet Leg Levelers are so much easier to use than the previous favorite of mine, Level-Lok Quick Connect Ladder Stabilizer. At the same time, they add very little weight to the ladder, about 5 lbs or so. The Level-Lok stabilizers are 8 lbs in total and with the leveler off the ladder, I suspect would be about the same.
Little Giant Xtreme Model 17 with Built-in Ratchet Levelers is being sold at $420 or so but comes with a ton of accessories: trestle bracket set, instruction sheet, Fuel Tank (for painting), and Air Deck. I can see the value in each of these items for a home-owner.
Little Giant Revolution Model 17 with Built-in Ratchet Levelers is being sold at $300-380 and comes with basic things: trestle bracket set, instruction sheet, and a DVD with video instructions for many different Little Giant models including the Revolution and Xtreme lines.
The cost of the additional accessories included with the Xtreme is about the same as the difference in these two ladders if bought on sale. I’d say the price/value factor is about the same for these two, perhaps a half point more for the Xtreme as the Air Deck mount is pre-installed on it.
Another part the Xtreme model has that the Revolution model doesn’t have is on the ladder itself: the Comfort Step. It’s a large platform that opens itself when the ladder is folded out in it’s A-frame configuration. This is especially useful when you’re going to be on the ladder for an extended period of time and you certainly feel safer. However, these additional parts add to the weight, making the Xtreme with the Ratchet Levelers 41 lbs, 3 lbs more than the Revolution model also with the Ratchet Levelers at 38 lbs.
One more difference between the two, the material used for the palm press on the Quad Lock Hinge and the Rock Locks. While both of them work smoothly, the Xtreme uses heavy duty plastic for the outer parts whereas the Revolution uses metal parts. On a cold day, I can honestly tell you that the plastic parts were appreciated as they were warmer to the touch and softer as well. However, as a contractor who uses these ladders on a daily basis, I appreciate the durability of the metal parts on the Revolution.
For contractors, I think the Revolution is a stand-out winner thanks to its durable metal parts, lighter weight, and less bulk. What do I mean by “less bulk”? The Comfort Step platform, when folded, blocks the space between the top rung and the second rung. This is where I often put my shoulder in to carry it around surfaces where the wheels can’t be used. While this addition certainly is nice when used as a step ladder, I usually carry a lighter step ladder or step stool in the truck (Little Giant QuickStep and Gorilla 2-Step Aluminum ladders), so I’m happy to sacrifice that feature over better mobility and less weight. So far, I am extremely happy with this ladder and it is my daily choice of ladder when cleaning windows.
For homeowners, I feel that the Xtreme offers a very nice value and features that will actually come in handy. The additional weight of 3 pounds probably won’t matter as much when used occasionally at this setting. While the Air Deck mount can be added onto the Revolution as well, I suspect many home-owners will appreciate the fact that this is pre-installed on the Xtreme.
I’d like to add that both of these ladders are very high quality and it was a real pleasure trying them out side by side. Also, the Ratchet Leveler is such an awesome feature! I strong recommend that you consider spending the extra money to add this safety feature. Thank you for reading, and please leave a comment below if you enjoyed it or had a question!
Why hire a window cleaner who is licensed, insured, and bonded?
Whether we are hiring a window cleaner, a plumber or an electrician for a smaller project or someone like an architect or a general contractor, we are always looking to hire someone that we can trust. Often, we’ll see terms like “licensed & insured” or “licensed, insured, and bonded” on the contractor’s trucks, business cards or website. What do these terms mean and how should they affect our confidence in the pros we’re looking to hire? Below are some of the general comparisons based on research.
Most states and localities have different licensing requirements for professionals based on their trade. For trades like plumbers, electricians and general contractors, often a trade-specific license is expected, and this is usually a prerequisite for them to acquire insurance and bonding.
For trades such as window cleaning and pressure washing, usually a more general business license is required. This simply means the pro has been registered with the state, county, and/or city to provide the particular service(s) they offer. In window cleaning, we call window cleaners that operate without a license (in turn, insurance and bond), a Bucket Bob. A Bucket Bob can often give you a great price and may do a pretty decent job to follow. However, if they damage your property or steal something and disappear, you really don’t have any way of finding them again. After all, there’s no record of them ever doing business! So, while being licensed is not to be confused with having a clean background check, by registering with the government a pro demonstrates the first gesture of commitment to fulfilling the service he is offering.
There are a few different types of insurances a business might have. For a business with employees, workers’ compensation insurance (workers comp) is required by the law and it is to protect not only the business owner but also the homeowner (or property manager in case of commercial properties). If an employee falls off the ladder while cleaning windows and there’s no workers comp in place, the homeowner can be on the hook for the medical bills and more.
If you hire a small owner/operator business without employees, a general liability insurance policy is sometimes the only one that they are required to have. General liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage. If a company is advertising that they’re “insured up to $1 million”, that would certainly instill some trust, wouldn’t it? They have a million-dollar policy to cover them if they’re liable for anything! …Wait. What’s the catch?
The sad truth is most liability insurance policies have a default exclusion clause that exempts the coverage of the work surface. For example, most policies cover the damage if a window cleaner accidentally knocked over a TV or a lamp while cleaning the window near it, but not if he/she damages the window itself! This concept is called Care, Custody, and Control (CCC) in case of personal property, and Voluntary Property Damage (VPD) in case of real property. These terms may be used interchangeably if the policies specify the properties being covered. Many window cleaners themselves don’t know about this, and when it’s time for them to file a claim, they’re in for a surprise. So, when hiring a pro, be sure to check whether they have these two inclusion clauses specifically built into their liability insurance policy to cover all the damages that may occur.
Now this is a term you’ll hear a little less than “insured”. That’s because many window cleaners are insured but not bonded. Also, there are two types of bonds for two completely different needs. Each can be bought from a surety company separately by the business depending on their needs.
A theft bond covers for anything stolen by an employee of the company you hired. An interesting thing is that the theft bond does not cover the owner(s) of the company. So, if you’re dealing with an owner/operator and there are no employees involved, this bond doesn’t apply.
A performance bond protects the customer if a contractor fails to complete the job or meet the standards agreed upon. In residential window cleaning, this may not be as significant, as you usually do not have to pay until the job has been completed. But for commercial window cleaning, such as an annual cleaning of a large property, a property manager should investigate this more. There may be a partial payment made upfront, a deadline set forth by the board of directors, and/or equipment rented or purchased for the project.
Infinity Pro Clean, LLC
At Infinity Pro Clean, how do we meet these responsibilities? We are organized as a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Kentucky, registered as such with Fayette County, and licensed by the city of Lexington. Now, since we have relocated to Lexington recently, we’re 100% directly operated by co-owners, Sean and Bethany, with no employees at this point in time. Therefore, we do not need a workers comp policy or theft bond yet. But, you can be confident that we will carry them both once we start hiring employees. In the meantime, we have a general liability policy covering up to $2 million with CCC and VPD clauses in place to protect your personal and real properties. In addition, we have a performance bond on top of our satisfaction guarantee policy!
*Disclaimers: This article is not a legal advice. The author has no legal education, training, or license. The information is to be used as reference only.