Magazine

If You Don’t Strike Oil, You Haven’t Cleaned Your Garage

By Jim Gamble

"If a guest spends $300 or $400 a night for a room, then parking is expected to be outstanding,” said Tim Leonoudakis, President of San Francisco-based City Park. And a dirty garage does not “outstanding” make, he said.
“So many times we see a parking structure with a prestige look, a certain added elegance to the shopping area – giving the parking user a sense of what is to be expected. From the moment following the drive into the structure to the well-placed signage, high-end equipment and the best service, these customers expect a level of excellence.
“The last thing that a customer would ever think of is tracking oil or blood from the garage into their Mercedes. Surprisingly, it happens all too often,” Leonoudakis said.
Oil is the big problem in a parking garage. It is responsible for more damage than some are led to believe – from slipping injuries to leaking from the floors above onto the hoods of cars below. This oil spillage is costing property-management firms, in insurance claims, thousands of dollars in repair expenses.
Cleaning a parking garage the right way is very important. But doing so is more complex than one might think.
First, hand scrubbing. If the company you hire does not use this method of emulsifying the detergent into the oil, you will not get penetration into the concrete, which enables the oil to work its way to the surface.
Then steam cleaning. So many cleaners talk about steam cleaning, be sure they have the capability to do it, and do it right. What are the requirements a property management firm should consider when searching for steam-cleaning company? See the sidebar for a list.
The oil-removal process. This is achieved by a combination of extreme heat and the cleaning solution. Without it, your results can be mediocre at best. It’s like washing your hair without hot water or shampoo – a quick rinse-down, if you will, but you’re not clean, and you can feel that oil residue over your body. It’s the same in your parking garage.
Rinsing. This is usually overlooked in the field. Some say rinsing isn’t necessary, but it is. Think of washing your hands with soap, then not rinsing. In garage cleaning, rinsing is just not a matter of throwing some water on the ground. It is essential to the cleaning process.
Garage cleaning is a specialized field. From EPA to water-use restrictions, a garage-cleaning company needs to know – and have a relationship – with the environmental agencies and be well-versed in the ever-changing restrictive laws.
Jim Gamble is President of Crystal Cleaning Co. in Antioch, CA. He can be reached at Jim@garagecleaning.net.

Sidebar:
Things to consider before hiring a garage-cleaning contractor:
• Years of experience in the specific field of garage cleaning.
• Public record with the environmental agencies in your area.
• See photos of before and after.
• Do a visual of the cleaning machines to be used. Do they look beat up or worn down, or does the equipment appear to be well-maintained?
• Ask about the chemical being used: Is it caustic, acid-based, etc.?
• What measures do they take to prevent damage to electrical lighting, call boxes and ticket readers?
• Having someone on-site during the cleaning is always a good thing, with a point person for both the cleaning contractor and the property being cleaned.

Article Abstract from September, 2009




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