Pressure Washing Makes Your Home Look Fresh and New Again

Power washing is an easy and affordable way to improve your home’s appearance. Not only can you take pride in a well-maintained home, but keeping your exterior bright and clean, including driveways, decks, and patios, keeps up the aesthetic value and curb appeal, vital should you want to put your home on the market.

Power washing is also a good way to prepare a home’s surface for repainting as it removes peeling, flaking, and chalking paint. Dirt, dust, mold, mildew, and moss can be removed from almost anything with the high pressure water stream.

The benefits of pressure washing include providing protection against building material degradation. When contaminants, such as mold, mildew, or algae remain on the siding material, it can cause permanent staining as well as premature paint failure.

When choosing a pressure washer, buyers should understand PSI and GPM ratings.

The PSI (pounds per square inch) rating is the maximum amount of force (pressure) discharged by the pressure washer. The higher the PSI, the more cleaning power available and the more things you will be able to clean.

A pressure washer’s GPM (gallons per minute) rating refers to the water flow during one minute of operation. The higher the GPM, the faster you will be able to clean.

Look for your pressure washer to have more than one nozzle that is easy to change out and connect. A 0-degree nozzle is designed for blasting tough mud and rust. It delivers a pinpoint stream of pressurized water and is extremely powerful. This nozzle should only be directed at surfaces that can withstand high pressure such as metal or concrete. Do not use this nozzle to clean wood.

Other nozzle options are designed for general cleaning of roofs, driveways and light stains, and a chemical (soap) nozzle for extra dirty jobs. It produces the weakest pressure stream of the nozzle options.

It is also recommended to choose a model that has at least 25 feet of non-marring, long-reach, high- pressure hose for flexible access. Wheels also make it easier to move around the yard or driveway.

Before you begin

With its powerful spray, precautions are necessary to protect certain areas around the house from harmful water pressure. Cover exterior fixtures like lights, shrubs, and plants with drop cloths or plastic covering and secure with duct tape. You may desire to hose down the greenery with clear water first.

Be cautious around the electric lines and conduit feeding the meter as well as the central air conditioner – high-voltage shock hazards that can kill you.

Angle the spray away from vents, soffit vents, and doors. Never spray windows – high pressure will break them.

Get a feel for the strength of the spray so you don’t damage your siding. Test by holding the pressure washer nozzle with both hands. Squeeze the spray gun trigger to allow the pump to purge air and impurities in the system. Then, standing about 3 to 4 feet away from the home’s exterior, aim the wand at a 45-degree angle to avoid gouging or denting. Move it in closer until you feel the spray is strong enough to remove dirt but not strong enough to cause damage.

Avoid streaking on vertical surfaces by applying the detergent from the bottom up. Work in small sections you can easily identify. Rinse thoroughly from the top down to wash away the cleaning agent and avoid streaks on a clean surface.

Safety first

Pressure washers are easy to use, but they are a powerful tool. Never point the spray at another person, pet, or yourself – critical injuries can result. Before using a pressure washer:

  • Read your operator’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use, maintenance, and storage.
  • Always wear safety goggles and closed-toe shoes and protect yourself from the possibility of direct spray as well as flying debris.
  • Place the pressure washer on a flat area before starting.
  • Firmly hold the gun assembly properly, engaging the safety latches when not spraying. The safety latches prevent water from spraying accidentally.
  • After turning off the pressure washer, always release any pressure by squeezing the trigger before disconnecting the hoses and nozzles.
  • The engine and motor of a pressure washer can get very hot after extended use, so use caution when moving the washer.
  • Don’t let children use a pressure washer and do not allow them to play around a pressure washer when it is in use.
  • Wear rubber soled shoes and long sleeve shirts and pants.
  • When using an extension wand, be extremely careful it doesn’t come into contact with overhead wires.