Dos and Don’ts: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pressure Washing Siding

Siding Power Washing

Dos and Don’ts: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pressure

Maintaining the exterior of your home not only keeps your property looking sharp, but it also prevents damage that could lead to costly repairs. Pressure washing is an incredibly effective way to clean and refresh siding, clearing away grime and buildup that can accumulate over seasons. However, it must be approached with care and know-how, as overlooking certain precautions can lead to significant issues with your home’s structure and the environment. Here, we’ll explore the essential dos and don’ts when it comes to pressure washing siding.

The Dos of Pressure Washing Siding

When the time comes to give your siding a good clean, here are the actions you should be sure to take.

Correct Pressure Levels for Different Siding Materials

The type of siding you have determines the proper pressure level. For instance, vinyl and wood siding typically clean well at a lower pressure, while brick and stucco can handle a bit more PSI. Refer to your manufacturer’s recommendations, or start with a low-pressure setting and gradually increase as needed. 

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solutions

Opt for eco-friendly and biodegradable cleaning solutions. This is not only safer for the environment but also for your plants and family. Look for detergents labeled safe for outdoor use, usually available at your local home improvement store.

Proper Technique for Avoiding Water Penetration

Direct the water stream downward on horizontal siding to avoid forcing water up and under the seams. For vertical siding, start at the top and work your way down to prevent leaks and water damage. Remember, you’re not just blasting dirt away – you’re also ensuring water doesn’t seep into the structure of your home.

Pressure Washing Siding

The Don’ts of Pressure Washing Siding

While pressure washing your home’s siding can be beneficial, certain practices should be avoided to prevent damage and maintain the integrity of your property. Paying attention to these don’ts is crucial for a successful and safe cleaning process.

Do Not Use Excessive Pressure

Applying too much pressure can cause irreversible damage to your siding, such as denting, cracking, or even blasting it away from the structure. It can be particularly detrimental to softer materials like wood or certain types of vinyl. Always use the minimum pressure that effectively cleans the surface.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Steer clear of cleaning solutions that contain harsh chemicals. While these may seem effective in removing stubborn stains, they can also damage your siding material, kill surrounding plant life, and pose risks to pets and humans. Stick to recommended, eco-friendly options.

Do Not Ignore Nearby Objects and Plants

Before you start pressure washing, take measures to protect nearby objects, such as outdoor furniture and light fixtures, and cover plants and shrubs. The high pressure can break windows, damage vegetation, and scatter debris. Taking a few minutes to prepare the area can prevent unnecessary harm.

Never Pressure Wash Upward

Spraying water upward into the seams and cracks of siding can force water behind the panels, leading to moisture problems inside your walls. This can cause mold growth and damage the interior of your home over time. Always aim the nozzle in a manner that water flows down and away from these vulnerable areas.

Common Mistakes to Watch Out for

While pressure washing your home’s siding can significantly improve its appearance, several common mistakes can turn a well-intended clean-up into a costly affair. Being aware of these pitfalls can help you avoid unnecessary damage and ensure a more effective cleaning process.

Skipping the Patch Test

One often overlooked step is performing a patch test in an inconspicuous area before proceeding with the full cleaning. This test helps you determine the right pressure and cleaning solution concentration to use without causing damage to the siding.

Neglecting Safety Measures

The powerful spray from a pressure washer can pose serious safety risks if not handled correctly. Wearing protective gear, including safety goggles and gloves, is a must. Additionally, ensuring that the pressure washing area is clear of people and pets is crucial to prevent accidents.

Forgetting to Check the Weather

Ideal weather conditions are not just a matter of comfort but also affect the efficiency and safety of pressure washing. Attempting to pressure wash during high winds can lead to spray and detergent being blown unpredictably, while rain can make surfaces slippery and dangerous.

Overlooking Maintenance of the Pressure Washer

Regular maintenance of your pressure washer is critical for its performance and longevity. Failing to clean and maintain the equipment can lead to malfunctions during use, potentially causing uneven cleaning or even damaging the siding.

By steering clear of these common mistakes, you can ensure a more successful and damage-free cleaning of your home’s siding.

Safety Precautions to Take

When undertaking the task of pressure washing your home’s siding, prioritizing safety cannot be overstated. Here are essential safety precautions that should be taken to ensure the job is done effectively and safely:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from harmful chemicals and flying debris. Durable gloves and closed-toe shoes will also safeguard your hands and feet from accidental sprays.
  • Secure the Area: Make certain that the area is secure and free from any bystanders, especially children and pets. The powerful spray of a pressure washer can cause injury or scare those nearby unexpectedly.
  • Be Mindful of Electricity: Keep a safe distance from electrical outlets, fixtures, and power lines. Water is a conductor of electricity, and carelessness can lead to dangerous shocks or electrocution.
  • Use a Safety Latch and Trigger Lock: When not actively using the pressure washer, engage the safety latch and trigger lock to prevent accidental discharge of water.
  • Avoid Ladders: The kickback from a pressure washer can destabilize your balance, making ladders a safety hazard. If you must clean higher areas, use extension wands designed for pressure washers instead.
  • Read the Manual: Before starting, thoroughly read the user manual of your pressure washer. It contains vital information about operation, safety features, and troubleshooting tips specific to your model.

By adhering to these precautions, you can prevent accidents and ensure a safe environment for yourself and others while pressure washing your home’s siding.

Pressure Washing Siding

Choosing the Right Pressure Washer for Your Siding

Choosing the right pressure washer for your siding is essential to achieve the best cleaning results without causing damage. The key factors to consider include the pressure washer’s type, power, and nozzle options. 

  • Electric vs. Gas-Powered: Electric pressure washers are ideal for most home siding cleaning tasks, offering sufficient power for effective cleaning with less risk of damaging softer siding materials. Gas-powered models provide higher pressure and are better suited for heavily soiled or durable materials but require more cautious use.
  • Pressure Rating (PSI) and Water Flow (GPM): The pressure output, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and water flow, measured in gallons per minute (GPM), determine the machine’s cleaning power. A PSI between 1300 to 2400 is typically sufficient for residential siding. Higher PSI levels may be necessary for tough stains but pose a higher risk to the siding.
  • Nozzle Types: Pressure washers come with various nozzles, each delivering a different spray pattern and pressure. A 25-degree green nozzle is often ideal for siding, offering enough force to clean effectively while minimizing the risk of damage. For tougher jobs, a 15-degree yellow nozzle may be appropriate, but use it with care.
  • Adjustable Pressure: Some higher-end models feature adjustable pressure settings, allowing you to tailor the water pressure to the specific cleaning task. This feature provides versatility and added protection for softer or more delicate siding materials.

In addition to these technical specifications, consider the ergonomics and ease of use of the pressure washer. Look for a model that is easy to move around and store, and that comes with a warranty for added peace of mind. Researching and selecting the appropriate pressure washer for your specific siding type and cleaning needs will ensure that you can keep your home’s exterior looking its best safely and efficiently.

Professional vs. DIY: Which Option is Best for You?

Deciding between engaging a professional service and opting for a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach when pressure washing your home’s siding can be challenging. Each option has its merits and potential drawbacks. 

Professional Services: Hiring professionals comes with the assurance of experience and expertise. These individuals or teams have the knowledge to select the correct pressure settings and cleaning solutions tailored to your siding type. They also come equipped with high-grade equipment and safety gear, minimizing the risk of damage to your property and personal injury. Though more costly upfront, a professional service can save money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes and damage.

DIY Approach: Choosing to tackle pressure washing yourself can be cost-effective and grant a greater sense of personal accomplishment. It allows for scheduling flexibility and immediate action. However, it requires a significant time investment to research and learn the proper techniques and safety precautions. Additionally, purchasing or renting the necessary equipment can be expensive. The risk of accidental damage to your siding or personal injury is also higher without professional training.

In conclusion, the choice between professional and DIY pressure washing hinges on weighing the value of your time, personal safety, and potential cost savings. If you prioritize safety and quality and can afford it, professional services might be the best route. Conversely, if you have the time to learn and undertake the task with caution, a DIY approach could be a rewarding project.

WiseGuys Pro-Wash
267 W Wieuca Rd NE STE 202, Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 596-5334