Solar screens have become an increasingly popular choice for homeowners and businesses across the United States, with data from the U.S. Department of Energy suggesting that they can reduce unwanted solar heat gain by up to 70 percent, and lower energy related costs by as much as 25 to 40 percent. However, like any other external fixtures, these screens are subjected to dust, dirt, and grime buildup over time, which can reduce their efficiency and lifespan if not properly cleaned and maintained. This article seeks to provide detailed step by step guidelines on how to effectively clean solar screens.
Understanding Solar Screens
Solar screens are special types of window coverings made from a tightly woven mesh fabric that is designed to block out a significant portion of the sun’s heat and glare while still allowing for visibility from the inside. They can be installed either on the exterior or interior of windows and are available in various shades and densities depending on the level of sun control desired. To ensure optimal performance and longevity of these screens, regular cleaning is a must. The frequency with which you clean your solar screens will depend on your geographical location, environmental conditions, and personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is to clean them at least once or twice a year.
Materials Needed for Cleaning Solar Screens
Before you begin the cleaning process, it is important to gather all the necessary materials. These include a mild detergent or dish soap, warm water, a soft brush or sponge, a hose with variable pressure settings (if available), a bucket, towels for drying, and gloves to protect your hands. Always use mild cleaning agents as harsh chemicals can damage the screen material and cause discoloration. If possible, select an overcast day or a time when the sun is not directly hitting the screens to avoid streaking caused by quick drying.
Removing Solar Screens for Cleaning
The first step in cleaning solar screens is their removal from the windows. This is typically a straightforward process, but depending on how your screens are installed, you may require a screwdriver or other tools. For screens that are installed on the outside of the windows, make sure to have a safe, stable ladder or step stool if needed. As you remove each screen, it can be helpful to number them and the corresponding windows to ensure proper reinstallation. Once removed, lay the screens out on a clean, flat surface such as a driveway or patio.
Cleaning Process for Solar Screens
To start with the cleaning process, rinse each screen thoroughly using a hose to remove loose dust and dirt. If you do not have access to a hose, a bucket of water and a sponge can be used as well. Afterwards, fill your bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent or dish soap. Using your soft brush or sponge, gently scrub both sides of each screen ensuring all areas including the corners and edges are adequately cleaned. Be sure not to apply too much pressure as this could potentially damage the screen’s fabric.
Rinsing and Drying Solar Screens
Once you have scrubbed all the screens, rinse them off with clean water. If using a hose, make sure to adjust the pressure settings to avoid damaging the screens. The goal is to remove all soap residues as they can leave streaks or spots once dried. After rinsing, shake off excess water from each screen and let them air dry. If you need to speed up this process, use clean towels to blot and absorb as much water as possible.
Reinstalling Cleaned Solar Screens
After your solar screens have completely dried, they are ready to be reinstalled. Refer back to the numbers you assigned to each screen and window during removal to ensure proper placement. Take the time to check the condition of the rubber spline (the rubber cord that holds the screen in the frame) and replace if necessary. Once all screens are back in place, do a final check to make sure they are secure and fit properly.
Preventive Measures for Keeping Solar Screens Clean
While it is not possible to completely prevent dust and grime buildup on your solar screens, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency of deep cleanings. Regularly dusting or vacuuming your screens can help keep them cleaner for longer. In addition, applying a fabric protector spray after each cleaning can help repel dirt and dust particles, making it easier for rain or water from a hose to wash them away.
In conclusion, regular cleaning and maintenance of your solar screens can significantly enhance their performance and lifespan, save you money on energy costs, and improve the aesthetics of your property. By following these detailed guidelines, you can ensure that your solar screens are always in top condition and performing at their best. Remember to always handle your solar screens with care during cleaning and avoid using harsh chemicals that may cause damage or discoloration.