Space Needle

Dizzy heights: Night-time high-pressure cleaning on ropes

Having cleaned the presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore in 2005, we then turned to another American landmark in May and June: the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. The 184-metre-high building was cleaned thoroughly using high-pressure cleaners, removing for the most part very stubborn dirt. The work took eight weeks in total to complete.

"Kärcher's expertise and environmentally-friendly cleaning techniques were invaluable when it came to cleaning our landmark", said Peter Beck from the Space Needle management. "We are delighted that the Space Needle has been returned to its original shine."

Cleaning heavily soiled steel

Pure water was used to carry out the work, without added chemicals. It was heated to 90°C by three electrically-powered hot water high-pressure cleaners and applied to the dirty surfaces at a pressure of 180 bar. Emissions pollution, bird droppings and greasy layers of dirt had built up over the years on the painted steel. In order not to disrupt normal business hours and the 1.3 million visitors to the building annually, the work was carried out in night shifts – the first time ever for a Kärcher cleaning project. Equipped with head torches, application engineers Thorsten Möwes and his team abseiled down from the highest level of the tower. The cleaning sessions, which were at times almost acrobatic, lasted from 11pm until the early hours of the morning. "In addition to working at night, accessing the surfaces on the undersides of the three-storey head of the tower was particularly challenging, as these had to be accessed horizontally", said Thorsten Möwes. "At a height of 150 metres, it could also get quite windy, though we only had to stop working twice when wind speeds on the Space Needle reached over 80 km/h."

German-American team reaches new heights

The large-scale project was supported by our service technicians from C-Tech, Derek Knight and Doug Yates, two technicians from the Space Needle, and five industrial climbers from the American company Skala Group. Summing up his experience, Thorsten Möwes said: "There was a great atmosphere in our German-American team, we worked together very smoothly from start to finish". The media response to our cleaning project was also very positive: our involvement was covered in hundreds of features by television and radio stations, as well as daily and weekly newspapers.