House Cleaning

Should I Pressure Wash My House?

There are many people that have noticed dirty siding on their home, and quick to find the easy solution.  Rent or borrow or buy a pressure washer, and watch the dirt fall right off.

Many “professionals” and homeowners alike will grab a pressure washer to clean the exterior.  However, taking the easy way out may be doing more harm than good..

Pressure washing may cause water behind siding

This is the worst thing you can do with a high pressure washer to a house.  Some pressure washers shoot water at 1500 psi, but they can get as high as 3300 psi, which may blast through solid wood, asphalt, and even concrete.

Any wood surface that comes in contact with a pressure washer most likely will have water shoot up under the siding.  If this happens, flooring, studs, insulation, wiring, etc will all come in contact with water.  The worst part is causing damage that cannot be seen possibly for years to come, but something that could have been avoided.

Inside of the walls, behind the siding is meant to be dry; keep it that way.

If you have vinyl siding, it is designed to shed water, and has weep holes.  It is most certainly not waterproof. Do you know how the underlayments have been installed? Some contractors do not know the proper techniques to install all of the house wrap and openings (windows and doors), so it’s still a good bet to keep water away, as chances are that water will still find a way behind it, and rot the wood sheathing.

Mortar and Brick

Old brick and mortar are softer than today’s products, and can be easily blasted away with high pressure water.

The cost to repair damages done to brick and mortar will far outweigh what it cost to clean them with a powerful pressure washer.

Pressure washer as a paint Scraper

Of course, it’s easier to use a pressure washer than a paint scraper on peeling paint.  When that 3000 psi water is blasting right onto bare wood, it creates holes in the surface and furs the wood grain, causing damaging the siding.  Using a pressure washer to scrape paint on a home’s siding is not recommended.

When to use a pressure washer

Some projects are ok to use a pressure washer, as they will not allow pressurized water to come into contact directly on your home.  Decks and Railings are ok, with low pressure (be sure not to bore out the wood’s surface with too high pressure).  Wood or vinyl fences as well as asphalt surface can take on a medium pressure psi.  Surfaces that can take a high pressure include concrete surfaces, like Driveways or sidewalks, metal surfaces or patio stone.  Just be sure to aim away from the house to keep all possibilities of water entering the home limited.

Alternate to Pressure Washing

Ultimately, the safest way to clean and prep the exterior of your is to use a regular garden hose and spray nozzle along with an extension pole with a nylon scrub brush.

It takes longer, yes, and your muscles may be sore after you are done, but it actually does a better job at cleaning the house and is much safer for your house.

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Dave Noelke