Tag Archives: high rise access

High-Rise Boom Equipment

High-Rise Boom Equipment Used For Cleaning And Repairs

Back in the day when their windows could still open, skyscraper facades were definitely easier and simpler to clean. In fact, the whole of idea of facade cleaning before 1950 really just meant window washing. A dedicated team of laborers would get strapped into their leather harnesses and then hook up to the sides of the windows of skyscrapers in order to do their work. Even though they stood on rather tiny window ledges, they felt like they were safe, because if one of the hooks failed, they’d still have the other one left to dangle from.

highrise and boom eqmt

In the 1950s we saw the advent of glass curtain wall buildings being constructed, meaning that windows were now essentially the facade of the building. Given how this facade would be fixed in place and couldn’t open, then access for window washing now had to come from the exterior, and that made things a whole lot more complicated. In order to let window cleaners have outside access, buildings needed flat roofs so that window-washing equipment could be accommodated, either mobile or fixed. Many different mechanisms saw development in order that window-washing platforms might be suspended on tracks or rails on the building roof so that they could move up and down as an operator decided.

When window-washing techniques got more advanced, it was possible for glass curtain wall structures to get away from the requirement of having a flat roof. Multiple recesses and slopes, which were very prominent in designs of the 1900s – 1930s, such as the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, started showing up again in the skyscraper designs near the end of the 20th century. In order to serve such buildings, many new kinds of facade-access equipment saw development, including things like arms that might act as potential supports for doing things like hoisting and window-washing. Today, window washing is still at the core of any structure’s regular maintenance routine. The majority of windows get washed two times a year, although lobby entrances and ground-level retail spaces might be done a lot more frequently. Most of this work is still done manually, but of course, there is experimentation with automation and cleaning robots, especially in Europe and across the Middle East. These often rely not on guardrails but on vacuum-powered suckers to attach to the buildings they work on.


These are designed specifically for high-rise structures. A good boom system can let workers have total maintenance access to the facade without having to put anything together or take it apart on the roof.

window cleaner on boom

Davit Carriages

A powered davit carriage unit saves crew members from having to move portable davits, which is quite a labor-intensive activity. Just like a standard davit system, it’s possible to lower the mast out of view.

davit carriage

Portable Davits

Portable davit masts might honestly be one of the more affordable solutions for facade access. These can move between any fixed davit bases that are pre positioned. They can also get lowered out of visual sight when they’re not in use.

Portable Davit Equipment

Bosun Chair

A single cleaner can use a powered bosun chair, and he or she can typically operate from thing from the very chair itself.

high rise window cleaner in a Bosun Chair


Accessing the sides of any skyscraper is crucial, and that’s not just for doing things like high rise window washing. It’s also essential for metal cleaning, hoisting up replacement panels, and inspecting the conditions of curtain walls. Buildings that have straight sides will typically provide this access courtesy of a rig mechanism which gets anchored to the roof and is capable of moving up and down with ease.

Here’s a video of a local GTA crew and some of their equipment used for high rise window cleaning and exterior repair …

On the other hand, a growing number of skyscrapers, especially GTA Toronto area, don’t have straight sides all the time, if any, and they distinguish themselves by using twisting curtain walls or by having multiple setbacks. As a consequence, building designers need to pick a certain facade access technology, and typically at a very early design stage, so that they have something that is going to work in conjunction with the distinct geometry of their building.

The building in the above picture illustrates the complexity of this rather well. Given how the tower has a multitude of setbacks, it wouldn’t be much use having traditional window-washing systems in place. Rather, there are telescoping booms coming out of hidden panels placed close to the top of the building, and they extend as far as is necessary to let each cleaning rig get access to the levels protruding out down below.