Residential Pressure Washing Tips for New Homeowner

Every new homeowner should ensure that regular Residential Pressure Washing is part of their home maintenance routine. Built-up dirt, mud, silt, grime, and other debris can eat away at brick, concrete, wood, and other exterior materials, and make even a new home look downright shabby.

Residential Pressure Washing requires the right machine and attachments as well as specific detergents designed for various surfaces. A new homeowner should also practice using the equipment on durable materials before washing their house and should avoid using too much pressure on exterior glass, patio stones, and other fragile surfaces.

A professional power washer is the best choice for any home, as he or she can ensure no surfaces on your property are damaged and that everything is cleaned thoroughly and adequately. However, if you do want to manage this job yourself, note some vital tips that will help ensure your success.

What Is the Best Power Washing Equipment to Buy for Home Use?

No one particular home pressure washer is the best choice for every homeowner; the best power wash machine for your home will offer the strength needed to remove the dirt and grime covering your property's exterior surfaces, while still being lightweight and manageable for you. To choose your machine, first consider some pros and cons of various types of equipment, and then you can decide which is right for your needs.
  • Gas-powered machines will offer the most power and are an excellent choice for cleaning thick dirt and grime, especially from pitted surfaces like concrete. However, you would need to keep fuel and oil on hand and be cautious of storing a gas-powered machine near other flammable items. Gas engines also require more maintenance than electric motors, and they produce noxious, bothersome fumes.
  • Electric power wash equipment is lightweight and portable and won't produce fumes and emissions. However, an electric pressure washer cannot provide the amount of pressure as gas-powered engines, so they're not always a good choice for heavy-duty cleaning. Corded machines are cumbersome to use and might require long extension cords to reach an available outlet.
  • The PSI of a machine refers to the pounds of pressure per square inch that it produces or the actual water pressure. Don't assume that you need the highest PSI available from a machine, as too much pressure can make the equipment challenging to control and might also damage a surface during the cleaning process.
  • The GPM of pressure washers refers to gallons per minute, or how much water a machine can spray at one time. Trying to clean an extensive surface, such as long exterior walls or extensive decks, with low GPM will make the job take far longer than it should. The larger your house or deck, the more GPM you need from a machine.

What Can You Power Wash?

Most exterior home surfaces are safe for cleaning with a pressure washer, including brick, aluminum or vinyl siding, concrete and asphalt, wood decks and fences, metal railings and banisters, and glass fencing. There are surfaces and materials that a homeowner should avoid power washing, and should leave to a professional to clean, including:
  • The pressure of a power washer can outright shred aluminum window and door screens and bend thin aluminum frames.
  • Power washing can shatter exterior window glass, especially older glass that has become thin and brittle with age. Pressure washing can also smear abrasive grit, silt, sand, and other coarse debris across the exterior glass, leaving microscopic but damaging scratches.
  • High-pressure cleaning can dislodge patio pavers, flagstones, and other lightweight pieces. Too much pressure can also crack brittle or thin stones.
Note, too, that residential pressure washing can shred peeling paint and even remove sealcoating and other topcoats from concrete, asphalt, and the like. If any surface on your property is not in good condition, it's best to leave your cleaning work to the pros, so that you don't cause more damage with your power wash techniques.

Should You Pressure Wash a House Before Painting?

It's good to pressure wash a house before painting, to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. Surface debris will eventually peel away from a home's exterior surface, taking that fresh paint with it! Dried dust, cobwebs, and other such residues will also make the paint look bumpy and uneven.

Flakes of paint, rust, and other debris from a home's exterior walls and surfaces will be removed with pressure cleaning. Mold and algae clinging to a home's foundation or siding can be killed with washing that includes a bleach or other such solution. The exterior surface of a home will then be clean and dry, and ready for new paint.

How Often Should You Power Wash your House?

Most homeowners would do well to schedule pressure washing services every year; however, consider when it might be good to wash the exterior of your home more than just annually:

Stormy weather will deposit acid rain residue, dust, and other debris on a home's exterior walls. Residual dirt and grime is unsightly and can also cause etching and scratching along brick and siding.
Strong storms can leave behind seeds, twits, wet leaves, silt, and other such grime on a roof. This debris can make its way under shingles, loosening them, so that roofing tiles might be more likely to blow away in a storm.
  • Rainy weather can also deposit mud and silt in a home's gutters, leading to future clogs. If rainwater were to spill over the sides of those gutters, it might then collect around the home's foundation, causing cracks and water leaks in the home's interior.
  • Children and pets can leave muddy footprints all over a home's back deck. Mud and grime can seep into that wood, causing it to soften and potentially leading to cracks and splits. Dirt and grime that settles into cracks in wood can also lead to mold and mildew growth.
  • Sand from a nearby desert or beach area might become airborne and settle onto your home's exterior. Sand and other such coarse and abrasive grit can scratch a home's exterior glass, brick, and siding, and become lodged inside window and door screens.
  • Mold and algae may grow more easily along homes in tropical areas or those located near large water bodies. Washing away these contaminants can provide a cleaner outside environment for your family and pets.
  • Soot and grime from machinery, heavy trucks, and so on can frequently cover homes located near busy highways, production facilities, warehouses, and other such industrial areas. A regular and thorough residential pressure washing ensures this soot and grime don't become overly thick, while also creating better air quality outside your home.

Pressure Washing Mistakes to Avoid

When you choose a home pressure washer and decide to clean your property exterior, note some common mistakes to avoid, so that you don't damage your property and so the job will be done correctly:
  • Always start with the lowest pressure available on your machine. Hold the wand at least 18 inches from the exterior wall or other such surfaces. Adjust your pressure as needed, but avoid moving the nozzle or pressure wand any closer to an outer wall, deck, or pavement, to prevent cracking and chipping those materials.
  • Move the wand from side-to-side slowly and avoid holding it stationary in any one spot. Consistent pressure on any exterior building material or surface can chip or loosen brick, stones, and the like.
  • It's best to leave window washing to professionals, but if you do want to wash your home's windows, stand to the side rather than aiming the spray directly at the glass. Start from the outside edges of the windows, rather than spraying the water at the middle of the window pane, where it's likely to be weakest. Keep the wand moving continuously as you work.
  • If you use any solvent or detergent in your pressure washer, be sure you rinse the surface or material thoroughly. Residual cleanser can dry against an exterior surface and become sticky, leaving behind unsightly streaks and attracting more dirt than before!
  • Be mindful of your surroundings as you clean, and note that a power washer creates a tremendous amount of spray. Ensure children and pets are out of the home or at least at a safe distance from the area. Change the direction of your wand as needed, to avoid creating unsightly splatter on adjacent surfaces or creating a muddy mess in the home's landscaping features.

When to Call a Pressure Washing Company

Even with a high-quality machine and a bit of know-how, it's still good to have an expert power wash a house when needed. Note when you want to search online for "pressure washing near me" rather than buying a machine and tackling this cleaning job yourself:
  • A professional should always handle roof washing. Being on a roof is unsafe in the best of conditions, but a wet roof is downright dangerous! Not only will the water used for washing create a slick surface, but the power wash machine itself is also very cumbersome and difficult to manage, and can quickly throw you off balance, leading to dangerous and even deadly falls.
  • Old exterior windows tend to be very thin and brittle. A power wash service that specializes in soft wash systems can gently clean that fragile glass without the risk of breakage. If you're not sure the age or condition of your windows, call a professional to have them cleaned.
  • Thick, caked-on dirt and grime might require strong solvents or specialty detergents meant to dissolve tough debris. Call a professional to power wash a house that is especially filthy rather than assuming that you need to use more detergent or added pressure, or that you need to wash your home repeatedly to get it clean.
A homeowner might also invest in a lightweight power wash machine for regular residential pressure washing and then rely on a professional to give the home a more thorough, deep cleaning every year or as often as needed. A light cleaning in between professional visits will keep your home's exterior looking fresh and new, while a deep, professional clean will remove damaging mold, algae, grit, and other such grime.
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