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Learn How To Rappell And Clean Windows Off Ropes: Scared?

Updated on January 16, 2014

Are you considering a hirise window cleaning job and need to know how to rappel safely and efficiently? Commercial window cleaning is still a viable job anywhere in the world as buildings need to be maintained from professionals who can do the job right. This just happens to be one of those jobs which takes a big set of kahuna's and a certain skill set that most are not willing or interested in learning.

Rappeling is a skill that needs to be taken seriously whether for fun or business. A person skilled in this type of ability understands how to tie knots, secure tie off points and is very capable of scaling the most difficult structures and mountain sides.

As for rappelling to clean windows, the techniques used are only for the most highly skilled individuals who have trained and comprehend what measures need to be taken in order to stay safe and work effectively.

Use Separate Tie Down Points For Your Ropes

In the hirise window cleaning business you will be using two sets of ropes just to be safe. These ropes will have separate tie down points for the ride line and the safety line. Your ride line is the rope which you rappell on and takes all of the weight. Regardless of whether you will be using a rack, tube, or figure eight you have to have separate lines to stay safe.

Many advanced window cleaning professional will actually double up the ropes and form two lines to tie off with. Of course you could only do this with plenty of extra rope versus what you need to reach the ground. This is not a good idea no matter how good you are. I am guilty of this myself and unfortunately so are many other seasoned pros. Do as I say and not as I do! That would be the motto for this tutorial!

If you have a 400 foot jump off point then you need 2ropes with approximately 500 feet worth of length each. The average window cleaning rope for hirise is 600 feet long. This will handle most mid to taller size buildings. A 40 story building on average is only about 500 feet tall so this leaves room for tie off points and some slack at the bottom.

Using the above scenario, you would need two 500 foot lengths of rappelling rope. One would be to secure your ride line and the othet would be tied off for your safety. The ride line is the rope you rappell down and the safety would be there to catch you in case of ride line failure.

Hirise Window Cleaning And Rappelling
Hirise Window Cleaning And Rappelling

Where To Tie Your Ropes For Hi-rise Window Cleaning Jobs

Most hirise buildings have air conditioners on the roof and this is a very common place for window cleaners to tie off to. Unless there are some structure supporting beams that are in line with the nest drop, an ac unit will usually do unless it has stability problems. I would always suggest finding a steel grate or a strucural piece of framework to tie to versus and air conditioning unit.

The truth is with hirise window cleaning sometimes these options do not exist. This is why having a saftely line is so important. This may sound strange to the beginner but even a stairwell that leads to the roof is a good place to tie back your ropes or at least a safety line. In order to use a roof stairwell you will need to make sure that building maintenance people are aware you are working and that no-one will mess with your ropes. This may be best just for tying the safety.

You have to make sure that your ropes are secured the best way possible. Finding good tie back points for hirise window cleaning can be difficult but take the extra time because your life depends on it.

How To Secure Your Ropes And Be Safe

There are several different ways that ropes can be tied. I prefer the double figure eight myself for the best tie down. This is when you loop the rope and then double twist it for maximum security purposes. You can find instructions for creating a figure eight knot right here.

Additional knots to tie down your ropes

A figure eight is not the only way to go. You may have looked at other ways to secure your ropes and that is fine. Here are some additional ways that can be used to tie ropes for hirise window cleaning so just study them and decide if they are right for you.

Hi-rise Window Cleaning And Climbing Over The Edge

This may be the hardest part of the job. Once you can master being confident about going over the edge of a building the rest is pie! As they say...."The first step is a big one"! It's ok to be cautious and a little afraid even if you are the toughest of guys. Each step closer to the edge is like the last breath of your life until you have the confidence to do it with ease.

The angle of where your rope is tied off along with the type of ledge on the building will make a difference in how you decide to crawl over. In many cases, as a window cleaner, you have to make sure you are in reach of your bucket of water and tools. It is common to crawl over with an arm holding the edge as you slip into the chair you clean from. This is normal so do not be ashamed! In order to do the job properly you need your tools so making sure they are within reach only make good sense.

There are only minimum situations where a window cleaner can actually walk off the side of a building like a fireman. We carry too much equipment and have other things to worry about versus just getting to a destination. Take your time and always be careful while double checking all tie off's and rope tightness before you go over completely. Also make sure there are no ledges that your rope will rub on after crawling over.

Don't be afraid! This is much easier said then done but needs to be part of what you do. You cannot be afraid each time you climb over the wall and plan on being affective as a hi-rise window cleaning professional.

Trust your knots and understand your equipment is designed to protect you. If your rope holds after you climb over the edge, the rest is going to be easy. Believe me, if a problem existed you would know right away.

Hi-rise Window Cleaning-The First Climb Over The Edge

Your Hirise Equipment Is Designed For Your Job

Once you have climbed over and begin your descent you are good to go. That is the hardest part and you just beat it hands down! Now the hardest thing is to not have T-Rex Arms! You can only be affective in hi-rise window cleaning if you are willing to use the whole ability of your body and the stretches you will be performing reaching all of the windows.

As a pro window cleaner who does commercial window cleaning on high buildings, you need to perfect this ability to make good money. The more you are willing to stretch and swing the faster you will learn how to effectively clean the windows and pick up speed.

The chair you use and the harness are specifically designed for this type of work so trusting them is vital. You will not be able to rappell and clean windows which are on high commercial buildings until you believe in your equipment and your personal ability!

Videos For Cleaning Hi-rise Windows

Hirise Window Cleaning Is An Art And Takes Instruction To Get It Right

Not everyone is cut out to do window cleaning at such high altitudes. If you are serious and want to consider a career in this industry then make sure you have your life in check. It can be one of the most rewarding positions you may have ever held and also the scariest. In the end, once you learn the ropes (figuratively speaking) you may be happy to have one of the best jobs in the world as far as personal satisfaction.

Learn how to rappell before you get started and stay safe in your new position. You can make decent money with hi-rise window cleaning and all you have to know is being afraid cannot be part of your daily work! You can do it and be successful!


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    • profile image

      Roanoke Window Cleaning, Inc 

      4 years ago

      Absolutely! Very rewarding mentally, physically and financially!

    • LucidDreams profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from St Petersburg, Florida

      cyoung, thanks for reading. Yes, it is not for the faint of heart but very rewarding!

    • cyoung35 profile image

      Chad Young 

      7 years ago from Corona, CA

      This is not a job for someone afraid of heights so I guess that leaves me out. Very interesting hub though.


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