Sandblasters Effective in Cleaning Exterior Walls

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Proper Maintenance Ensures Door Hardware Performs as DesignedPt. 2: Fire Doors Offer Unique Maintenance RequirementsPt. 3: Wall Maintenance Depends on Construction TypePt. 4: Tuckpointing Seals Small Cracks, Averts Major RepairsPt. 5: This Page

Keeping exterior walls clean enhances the facility’s appearance, but it also helps workers spot small problems before they become larger and more expensive.

For heavy-duty cleaning of brick, stone, masonry, fiberglass, glass, metals and wood, portable sandblasters are the most efficient tools available. The most effective unit will have a minimum of 0.5 horsepower (hp) and a 1.5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) air compressor operating at 60 pounds per square inch (psi).

Managers can specify a range of nozzles, including cast steel, tungsten carbide, and ceramic. Air or water are effective cleaning agents. Silica sand, which is 99.9 percent silica content, is effective for most sandblasting operations.

The process requires sufficient pressure to propel the sand particles with enough velocity to strike the target with the proper coverage and penetration. Experimenting with various pressures and air-sand ratios and comparing results with standard coverage and penetration guides can optimize the results.

Managers can save a great deal of labor by ensuring equipment operators receive training in proper equipment operation. In numerous cases, training to correct improper operation reduced labor costs by 30-50 percent.

The operator always should be well-protected with a hood, heavy-duty jacket, and gloves to shield against injury by the sharp, high-velocity particles ricocheting off the surface being cleaned.

Finally, unless managers can find other uses for sandblasting equipment — for example, sandblasting rusted piping or other equipment during repairs — it can be more cost-effective to contract out this work to a specialist who can provide all the equipment, material, labor, and insurance at a fixed fee.

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  posted on 12/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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