Has it been a while since you’ve had some exterior cleaning around your home? We totally understand! It’s just as important to keep the outside of your home clean as it is to keep the inside of your home clean. Dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants and allergens can come in with you when you walk from your car, down the walkway, and into the house. Most homeowners are surprised at how much they’re vacuuming up every few days from their carpet and they wonder where it’s coming from!
Power Washing involves more than just grabbing your hose, and spraying everything down. This gets SOME of the dirt and grime out but not nearly all of it. There are some things that you need and considerations that need to be taken in order to successfully power wash.
What Can Be Power Washed?
There are a few different terms that are used interchangeably that really should be clarified before you get started.
Power Washing uses pressures up to 4000 psi to clean surfaces that are more structurally solid and can withstand high pressure. Surfaces like driveways, walkways, and patios are great to power wash because they’re stone and don’t erode easily under pressure. Power Washing also usually uses heated water.
Pressure Washing uses the same pressures that power washing does except this water isn’t usually heated.
With Soft Washing, the pressure coming out of the special nozzle that is placed at the end of the wand is really not much more than what would come out of your regular garden hose. Special environmentally friendly cleaners are applied to the surface that actually dig into and clean the dirt, grime, mold, and mildew, and the pressure from soft washing rinses it away. Surfaces that soft washing is more geared towards are vinyl siding, roofs, and decks.
Always make sure to know which technique to use BEFORE you start to avoid damaging surfaces. If you’re not sure how to clean a certain surface, it may be best to call in a professional.
With the different types of “power washing” in mind you can clean:
Common things that can be removed are:
- And other debris
Pressure washers come in all different sizes and types. The main two types are gas and electric. Electric machines are more suitable for smaller jobs since they put out less pressure. Gas powered machines are best for tougher and larger jobs.
0° Red Tip Nozzle – Maximum Blast
15° Yellow Tip Nozzle – Medium Stripping
25° Green Tip Nozzle – Gentle Lifting and Cleaning
40° White Tip Nozzle – Minimum Spraying
Soaping Black Tip Nozzle
These will be used to mix and hold different chemicals
A gentle environmentally friendly chemical to help clean vinyl siding
Helps in the removal of mildew
Aids in the removal of mold and mildew. This is optional and many manufacturers advise against using bleach in a pressure washer. Bleach is corrosive and when not mixed properly can damage equipment. If you’re going to use bleach, use sparingly.
Pump Garden Sprayer
For chemical application and softer spraying
Fiberglass Extension Pole
To reach higher areas safely
Soft Siding Brush
Used for scrubbing away tough stains and other hard to remove spots
Essential for mixing proper chemical ratios
Stiff Deck Brush
A stiff deck brush is used to get rid of stubborn spots
Before starting your pressure washing project, make sure that you have everything that you need and you understand what nozzles and chemicals work the best on what surface. It’s important to know what NOT to use on each surface also in order to avoid damaging your surfaces,
Again, if there is any question as to what is safe, there’s nothing wrong with calling in a professional to help!
There are a few safety concerns that must be taken into account when doing your own pressure washing, especially with an electric pressure washer.
When you pressure wash, you’re going to get wet. Water and electricity don’t mix very well and are definitely not something to overlook when keeping your safety in mind,
One of the biggest things not to overlook are high pressure injuries. A pressure washer isn’t just an an advanced hose! High pressures from a pressure washer can cause serious injury.
Safety Tip #1 – Take some time to think about the job, assess the risks, and make sure you have everything you need. Walk around the area to be washed and ask yourself some questions. Are you feeling up for the job today? Are there any hazards that would make this job unsafe that need to be taken care of first? Is the weather good? Am I adequately protected?
Safety Tip #2 – Wear appropriate PPE. It’s crazy how many injuries could have been prevented if the person was just wearing the right personal protective equipment. Some things you should always make sure you’re wearing are:
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Protective shoes or boots
- Ear Protection
Safety Tip #3 – Make sure you’re well read on how to operate the pressure washer. If you’re not sure how to operate the equipment, read the manual front to back, including any and all safety instructions from the manufacturer. Your user manual will explain everything you need to know about your pressure washer and will provide for you any troubleshooting tips and steps that you may need.
Safety Tip #4 – Never use a gas pressure washer in an enclosed space. There’s a few reasons not to do this.
- Poisonous Exhaust Fumes – When in an enclosed area, poisonous exhaust fumes can build up and be very harmful to your health. It’s the same concept as leaving a car running in a closed garage. If you start to feel nauseous, dizzy, or get a headache, turn off the power washer and exit the area immediately!
- Loud Noise – a gas power washer uses an engine similar to that of a lawnmower and is just as loud. If used in an enclosed space, the sound is amplified in a big way and can damage your hearing, especially if you’re not wearing ear protection.
Safety Tip #5 – While cleaning, be aware of your surroundings. You should be protecting yourself but you also need to stay on the lookout for playing children, pets, and other hazards that may enter the workspace.
Safety Tip #6 – Start spraying with the widest pressure washing tip needed and 2 feet from the surface to be cleaned and adjust as needed from there. It’s better to start out with too light of a pressure than start out at too high a pressure and end up damaging the surface.
Safety Tip #7 – Avoid ladders and working at height. It is very dangerous working at a height when pressure washing. Even a fall from 3 feet could prove to be fatal if you fall the wrong way or on your head. Always use a pressure washer with your feet planted firmly on the ground and use an extension wand.
Now that you have the equipment that you need and you know how to operate the equipment safely, you’re ready to start pressure washing! If you run into any snags or just plain need some help, don’t be afraid to call in a professional to do the job!
If you decide that power washing is something you want to benefit from in your house, feel free to contact us and we’ll schedule a time to talk with you!
Next article: Power Washing and Exterior Plants
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