How to Safely Power Wash Your Home
Whether you own a power washer or rent one for the day, August is the perfect month to start your winterization prep with a good cleaning. While it is still warm outside, take some time to pressure wash areas around your home. Not sure what items can be power or pressure washed? Read on to learn what surfaces can be power washed safely.
Safe to Power Wash
Vinyl Siding - Power washers clean vinyl siding much quicker than scrubbing it by hand. If you are uneasy about reaching the highest parts of your home, consider hiring a professional. If you intend to do it yourself, test out a spot first to choose the pressure of your spray. For the higher areas, be very careful on ladders and/or a roof. Water and the dirt that come off the siding can be slippery and hazardous.
Aluminum Siding - Aluminum cleans up great with the help of a power washing machine. You should still proceed with caution even though aluminum is a harder surface than vinyl. Using too high of a pressure setting can dent or remove paint on aluminum siding, so you must be careful. Apply the same safety tips as you would with vinyl siding.
Windows - You can use a power washer to wash windows, but nothing beats a microfiber cloth and squeegee. When power washing windows, you must take care not to force water underneath the window. Check your windows for any small cracks or damage; high pressure water can actually break window pane glass if you are not careful.
Stucco - Stucco is a much softer material than vinyl or aluminum, but it can be pressure washed. Clean stucco with a soft-wash method that employs the use of specialized cleansers to do most of the work. Then use a light yet appropriate pressure from the power washing wand to rinse off the lifted contaminants.
Brick - Because brick is porous, algae and other contaminants soak into the brick siding and even start to eat away at the mortar or grout. Soft washing brick is a safe way to not only restore its look but keep it protected.
Concrete - Concrete, like brick, is also porous like a sponge. Over time, dirt, grime, and a host of other contaminants soak into concrete surfaces, causing discoloration. Using a safe pressure, power washing is an excellent method to flush out the pores of the concrete to get it looking like new.
Pavers - You can safely power wash pavers to release soils and other contaminants on the surface. Loose sand will almost certainly come up through the power washing process, but to have the joints refilled is relatively inexpensive.
Not Safe to Power Wash
Roof - You cannot power wash a roof. Shingles are incredibly soft and pressure should not be used when cleaning. You can, however, apply a treatment that can be safely applied to your roof that will kill any existing algae, moss, or lichens. To remove the treatment, spray the roof using an average garden hose. This task might be better left to the professionals.
Wood - While it’s possible to pressure wash wood siding correctly, you can also force water up and under the exterior surface if your water pressure is set too high. If water gets under the siding it can damage insulation, electrical wiring, and even spur mold growth. In addition, power washing a deck could also cause considerable damage. Water can pull up splinters, cause splits and even cause considerable warping - especially on older decks.
Electrical Panels and Meters - Do not pressure wash any fixtures housing electricity, even those on the exterior of your home or in your yard. Though built to withstand a rainstorm, pressure washing can force water into crevices, causing damage and costly repairs.
Furniture - Some lawn furniture can be power washed, but only with light pressure. Test a small spot on the furniture to see how the high-powered spray affects it. Your safest bet to clean exterior furniture is a good old bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush.
Air Conditioners - For cleaning your air conditioning unit, don’t reach for a pressure washer. The intense flow of water can bend or crush the delicate fins and restrict airflow, which in turn shortens the life of the unit. Instead, straighten cooling fins using a butter knife and use a vacuum and a much gentler water flow to rinse away debris - while the unit is unplugged.
Rugs - A carpet scrubber is a better option to wash exterior patio rugs. If you power wash your rug, you could damage it.
Gutters - Though tempting, you should never clean out the inside of your gutters with a pressure washer. It’s best to remove debris by hand and then rinse the inside clean with a garden hose. Gutters can withstand rainstorms, but not the extreme power of a pressure washer.
Refrigerator - A refrigerator, or any outside appliances, shouldn’t be power washed. You could cause damage. The better option would be to use a quality general-purpose cleanser followed by disinfectant bleach.
Grill - You can use a pressure washer to clean a grill, but it’s not going to be easy. It can be done, but expect some hand scrubbing with a steel brush. Also, be wary of the cleanser you are using. After all, you will be using the grill to prepare food.