F. Cleaning the Bricked Panel (See Also: Protective coatings, Sec. IV.C.) The cleaning operation is often the most overlooked component of the embedded brick system, and can be the most frustrating. Inadequate cleaning machinery or protective coatings on the brick may drastically increase cleaning time. It is important to realize that there will be a substantial amount of water involved as well.
Clean concrete residue from the face of the brick once concrete is properly cured. Protective elements on the face of the brick make cleaning much easier. Wax, brick release, or retarders, are some of the materials used to diminish the bond between the brick’s face and leakage.
As a rule, the sooner a panel is cleaned after it is cured, the easier the cleaning process will be.
It is important to consider the cleaning method most suited for each project. A properly chosen pressure washer is extremely important. The optimum capacity machine is about 4000psi. and around 6gpm at 180+ degrees in temperature. Smaller units will work, but they may slow down cleaning speeds. Among most hot water pressure washer manufacturers there is a substantial difference between a 3500psi machine and a 4000psi machine. Hoses, pumps, nozzles, and many other components are considerably more robust in the 4000psi units. It is also good to consider that the tip pressure diminishes over time so that a unit that originally put out 3500psi may after a few months be as low as 3000 or less. There is a noticeable threshold of increased performance with the 4000psi machines. Pressure tips are important to consider as well. A 15 degree tip is excellent for concentrating cleaning and breaking action on the concrete residue, but is still a wide enough angle to cover a reasonable area. ‘Bell’ or ‘articulating’ nozzles spread the cleaning action over a greater area and are useful when there is light residue on the face. These nozzles make it difficult to focus pressure on specific areas. Both types have their uses and it doesn’t hurt to have both on hand.
Prior to spray cleaning of the panel, it is recommended to a metal scraper to scrape off any significant pieces of concrete that may have leaked on to the underneath portions of the liner during casting. Cleaning time can often exceed installation time in man hours per square foot required. For this reason it is wise to balance the expense of various types of brick protective coatings with the cost of cleaning. Each project and methodology is unique so it is advisable to consult a VersaLiner representative for input on your decision in this area.
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