The Basic Rule of Pressure Washing and What Surfaces to Avoid!

Everyone passes homes that have been pressure cleaned on their way to work. A house will look dull and grungy one day, and it will sparkle in the sun the next day.

You think to yourself that it looks good, and you’d like to pressure wash your own house.

Before you do, you should know some basic facts about pressure washing.

It’s quick and easy to clean the outside of your house, the deck, the driveway, and the sidewalk, but if you’re not careful, you can damage your home with a pressure washer.

What kind of damage, and what should you do about it?

The Basic Rule of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing uses two things: water and pressure. The water is forced through nozzles designed for different materials such as vinyl siding or asphalt driveways.

The pressure blasts away dirt and stains. The keyword here is “blast.”

The basic rule of pressure washing is to use the right pressure for the job. The pressure creates a powerful blast of water.

If you can’t control it, then whatever you’re cleaning will become damaged.

What Kind of Damages?

Let’s say you used the highest pressure setting available to clean the siding on your house.

There were no experts, such as those that offer power washing services in Miami, FL would say, to tell you that a lower pressure setting was advisable and would do the same job without damage.

It got the siding clean, but it also knocked off a couple of panels. Not only that, but water got beneath the vinyl and into the inside walls of the house.

Now you’ll have to call professionals to repair the damages.

Add to this the fact that when you washed the windows, two of them cracked from the pressure. The pressure might have destroyed the seals around the windows.

That’s another professional you’ll need to restore your windows to their former efficacy.

What is the Right Pressure Setting?

You’ll only be cleaning the siding on your house, the deck, patio, sidewalk, and drive. We’ll explain later what you won’t be pressure cleaning.

The sidewalk and driveway are concrete or concrete and asphalt. They won’t crumble or fall apart if they’re washed on the “blast” or zero (red nozzle) setting.

Especially if you’re blasting oil or other stains off the drive.

The patio, presumably, is concrete, but the deck is wood. You can blast the patio with a 15-degree or yellow nozzle for heavy-duty work.

The wood deck requires a little more delicacy. You don’t want to blast splinters off the wood. So you’ll set your 25-degree or green nozzle to a more gentle spray instead of a blast.

Forty degrees or a white nozzle is used on cars, deck and patio furnishings, boats, sheds, and other easily damaged things.

Sixty-five degrees or a black nozzle is the lowest pressure of all and is used when you want to clean something with soap or other cleaning formulations.

Before We Tell You What Not To Power Wash, You Should Know How to be Safe

Pressure washing surfaces

When something is coming at you with the speed and strength of a bullet, you should either get out of the way or be prepared.

Since you’re the person holding the wand, then you and those around you should be prepared:

  • Cover all water spigots and electrical outlets before pressure washing.
  • Never, ever spray a pressure washer at another person or animal. It would kill them. This isn’t the backyard water hose you’re holding; it’s a high-powered machine.
  • Be extremely careful around other humans and animals.
  • Wear protective gear such as heavy leather gloves, rubber boots, safety goggles, or even a full-face shield.
  • Use the right nozzle for the job. A zero-degree nozzle is the most forceful spray and is suitable for driveways and sidewalks.
  • A 40-degree nozzle has a wider spray and is more suited to vinyl siding
  • Stand at a safe distance, say, five to six feet, until you can handle the force of the spray and see how it reacts to the surface it’s cleaning
  • Large areas or complicated areas should be left to professionals with better equipment

You Should Never Power Wash These Things

We can’t stress too much about the safety of the kids and animals, so we feel it’s important to repeat ourselves: don’t aim the pressure washer nozzle at the dog, cat, the kids, or your plants. Other items not to power clean include:

  • Painted items. Painted porches, fences, patio furniture, and other painted things will have the paint chipped off them if they’re pressure washed on a too high setting
  • Wood. Old houses are sometimes clad in wood siding or wood shakes. Window frames, especially those in older homes, often need cleaning. The snag to that is that the older the wood, the weaker it is. Pressure cleaning can blast it to splinters
  • Electric. Electric meters and panels for both the house and the outdoor kitchen, water spigots, and any other things like cable and telephone boxes should never be hit with pressure of any kind and certainly not water
  • Roof. Asphalt shingles come equipped with granules that help shift the heat of the sun back into the air where it’s supposed to be.
  • Wash them off, and you’re asking your roof to absorb that heat instead of reflecting it back into the sky
  • HVAC. Your outside A/C unit gets clogged up with leaves, grass clippings, and growths climbing all over it.
  • This prevents the unit from operating efficiently, and your power bill goes up. The answer is to keep it clean. Power washing it, though, is a no-no.
  • You will damage the delicate fins and impede the airflow. Do it by hand instead of with a power cleaner
  • Gutters. Gutters weren’t meant to handle heavy loads of water, snow, or ice. They were meant to catch what falls off the roof and lead it away to the drain pipes.
  • Blasting leaves and debris out of gutters damages the material from which the gutters are made. Do it by hand and save yourself some replacement money.
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