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A Guide to the Operation and Maintenance of Balustrades

To keep your balustrade looking as good as new for years to come, it is important we understand the key factors to consider when cleaning and maintaining your balustrade. With over 20 years in the trade, we felt compelled to put together a guide on Balustrade Cleaning including an outline of the common practises for BA Systems for the Operation and Maintenance Balustrades.

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The O+M Manual (or Operation & Maintenance Manual) contains all information required for the operation, maintenance, decommissioning & demolition of a building. An O+M Manual is supplied to the building owner by the contractor or the sub-contractor.

An O+M Manual supplied by BA Systems to the Contractor would typically include:

  • Our name & address
  • Description of the works
  • Details of each installed item including model number
  • Details of where the item is installed
  • A reference to our literature / product specifications
  • Emergency conditions
  • Cleaning & Maintenance requirements
  • Any relevant drawings
  • Any relevant Test and Commissioning information

Normally the O+M Manual is required before Practical Completion so all the information for each trade can be handed over in one document to the owner. Of most importance for our product is Emergency Conditions which often includes glass breakage; this gives specific instructions on how to remove the broken glass, & replace the new panel safely.


Glass Replacement Strategy

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Glass breakages can occur spontaneously for a number of reasons. It is highly unlikely that both panels of glass will break at the same time and the glass will be retained in place under normal circumstances. The glass replacement strategy is outlined below:

If a glass panel needs replacing because of breakage by accidental damage or some other reason it is important to assess the risks of falling immediately and close off the affected area if necessary. If a breakage occurs on laminated glass, it is highly unlikely that both panels of the toughened glass will break at the same time, which means that the glass will remain in place until the remedial work can be carried out. The immediate risk is therefore minimal, but the issue should be addressed as soon as possible before the risk escalates.

If this is left for too long there can often be water ingress on external balustrades through the broken glass, causing the glass particles to separate from the piece that is intact. There is then the potential for small glass particles to fall and become a hazard.

Removal of clean and intact panels of glass for reasons other than breakage will most likely cause breakage during removal and new panels should always be available for replacement.

On commencement of remedial works, an exclusion zone should be created below the works and temporary edge protection put in place if there is no scaffolding still protecting the edge.

Cover trims should be carefully removed up to the closest joint from the affected panel, to give access to the base channel. Capping rails or handrails should also be carefully removed up to the closest joint.

Adjacent panels of glass should be protected to avoid any damage to the glass or adjacent cover trims.

If the glass has been grouted into the base channel, then, using flat bar chisels the grout on the inside of the glass should be carefully chipped and loosened until the bulk of it can be removed. The glass panel will then become loose in the base channel and can be lifted out and disposed of to recycled waste.

The base channel should then be cleaned out thoroughly of any remaining grout. New base gasket blocks can then be placed at the bottom of the channel and the new panel of glass lifted into place. The new glass is then wedged and aligned correctly with the other panels and grout is poured into the channel.

The cover trims and capping rails or handrails can now be replaced. If the trims and rails have been damaged during removal, then new trims will need to be fitted. If the glass has been mounted using stainless steel boss fixings, then once the area has been suitably secured and protected the boss fixings can be carefully loosened but kept in place. The panel of glass should then be suitably held or supported before the boss fixings can be completely removed. The glass panel can then be carefully lifted off and stored or disposed of. The new glass panel can be replaced in a similar way ensuring that the glass is supported until the boss fixings and gaskets have been tightened again.

Also of great significance is the cleaning & maintenance of the balustrades, especially if installed in pool & coastal areas. Not adhering to the instructions & frequency of cleaning can affect the warranty.


Cleaning of balustrades with glass panels

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Glass should be cleaned with an appropriate glass cleaning liquid or a mild detergent and a clean, soft cloth. Alternative commercial glass cleaning methods may be used but do not use strong solvents or solutions containing chlorinated hydrocarbons Esters ketones, abrasive cleaners, or polish.

DO NOT USE ABRASIVE CLEANERS OR METAL SCRAPERS TO CLEAN GLASS AS THIS CAUSES IRREPAIRABLE DAMAGE

This should be completed monthly of more frequently depending on weather conditions.


Cleaning of PPC balustrades

The Powder-Coated balustrading should be cleaned regularly with a standard, non-abrasive detergent.

Care should be taken to ensure a mild solution is used to protect the finish from damage.

DO NOT USE ABRASIVE OR CHEMICAL CLEANERS, OR SCRAPERS AS THIS CAUSES IRREPAIRABLE DAMAGE

This should be completed monthly, or more frequently depending on weather conditions.


Cleaning of Stainless Steel balustrades

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Stainless Steel balustrading must be cleaned regularly with an appropriate stainless steel cleaner.

BA Systems recommends the use of Inox Protect which prevents permanent finger marks & makes for easy cleaning of any further contamination. It also displaces moisture, giving temporary corrosion protection. Apply sparingly & dry with a clean, non-abrasive cloth.

 DO NOT USE ABRASIVE OR CHEMICAL CLEANERS, OR SCRAPERS AS THIS CAUSES IRREPAIRABLE DAMAGE

This should be completed monthly or more frequently depending on weather conditions.


Cleaning of Stainless Steel balustrades in Coastal Areas & Swimming Pool Areas

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The material should be washed on a regular basis with clean fresh water to remove the condensed chlorinated moisture droplets.

Within 5km of the sea we would recommend that the surfaces are cleaned with fresh water on a weekly basis, depending on the general weather and wind conditions.

Conventional abrasive cleaners or strong acidic cleaners should never be used on stainless steel as this can cause permanent damage to the finish and the metal itself. It is important to bear this in mind when cleaning brick surfaces adjacent the balustrades. Most brick cleaners contain hydrochloric acid which will cause permanent discoloration of the metal. This needs consideration just prior to handover of a completed building.

To remove heavier soil and salt deposits a mildly acidic water-based detergent should be used, diluted with warm water and then rinsed off with clean cold water. If possible, the surfaces should be dried off to prevent any water droplet scale forming and to maintain the surface in pristine condition.

This should be completed on a weekly basis or more often depending on weather conditions.

If any cleaning materials are used, then refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Also included in the O+M Manual are warranties for powder coating, known as a Design Life Certificate & our own warranty, handover sheets & As Built drawings

The As Built drawings are necessary to record changes & maintain an accurate representation of the building as it exists.


BA Systems provides a full and comprehensive design, manufacture and install service of our balustrade and handrail products and systems.

Find out more about us on this link here or contact one our technical consultants for no-obligation advice on how to correctly specify  balustrade systems for a wide variety of sectors and applications.

Ref.

*Glass Cleaning Image: https://square-1balustrades.co.uk/cleaning-glass-balustrades/

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