Everyone wants their house to look its best. The winter nor’easters can be severe in the Outer Banks and tend to blow dirt and debris onto your home’s exterior. It is best to start the spring season off right and do a power wash of the exterior surfaces of your home and decking, just like a spring cleaning but performed on the interior.
A power washing tool is not a magic wand. If you don’t use it right, you won’t get the expected results and can even do damage to your house. You must match the right tool to the job. The type of siding or exterior material on your home will dictate how much pressure to use. Follow the instructions on your pressure washer and use recommended cleaners for pressure washing.
You may rent or purchase a pressure washer from a local big box store or rental facility. Pressure-washer capacity is measured by cleaning units. Cleaning units are PSI (pounds per square inch) multiplied by the flow rate of GPM (gallons per minute). A simple electric pressure washer may operate at 2,400 cleaning units. A gas engine model can get up to 6,210 cleaning units while professional machines can hit 16,000 cleaning units (4,000 PSI and 4 GPM). Cleaning units can translate directly into effectiveness.
Use the Lowest Pressure to Get the Job Done
A little pressure can go a long way. Don’t just start blasting away with the most pressure and highest concentrated nozzle. Follow the recommended instructions for your particular pressure washer and test in an inconspicuous place. You do not want to blast off the paint, damage the siding, tear screens, or break the seals in double pane windows. You also don’t want to force water behind your siding into your home and possibly cause a mold issue between the walls. Stand the recommended distance away from the surface you are cleaning. Less can sometimes be more.
Use the Proper Cleaners
While bleach is useful to remove mold, it is usually not enough to thoroughly clean your house. Should you need to use bleach, pre-treat the area with a garden sprayer. Let it soak a bit and use a scrub brush to dislodge the debris. Next, use a recommended detergent cleaner in the pressure washer at low pressure to break the bond and complete the wash. Make sure the cleaner is safe for plants and take precautions to cover vegetation. Let the detergent sit on the house before rinsing it off with clear water. Do not let the clearer solution dry on the house.
Use the Proper Technique
Generally, clean from the bottom of the house up. Do a small section at a time. Keep track of where you have completed and overlap sections. Keep the nozzle moving because continuing to spray in one place can cause damage. Do not spray up at an angle that will force water under the siding. Do not blast directly into corners, window edges, or vents.
Rinse from the top down. This requires disengaging the detergent supply and clearing the sprayer before you perform the rinse. You may have to adjust the spray pattern between the cleaning cycle and the rinse cycle.
Pressure washing can be dangerous. Thousands of people are injured every year by pressure washing accidents. Typically, these accidents involve ladders. Keep the proper angle of the ladder to the house. Keep a firm grip; operating the pressure washer with two hands while standing on a ladder is not easy. If you are uncertain of your abilities, hire a professional.
Electricity is another danger. Water and electricity are not a good combination. Before you begin, take the time to locate any external outlets and the electric service cable to the house. Also, be careful to avoid the electric meter and all exterior lights. Turn off the service, if at all possible.
Follow these guidelines for proper safety:
- Wear eye protection.
- Wear hearing protection if using a gasoline-powered pressure washer.
- Don’t use a gasoline-powered pressure washer indoors or in an area without proper ventilation.
- Keep the electrical connections dry and off the ground for an electrical power washer.
- Don’t touch the plug if your hands are wet and you are using an electrical power washer.
- Don’t leave the spray gun unattended while the pressure washer is running.
- Don’t point the spray gun at people, animals, or plants.
- Keep the spray away from electrical fixtures, power sources, and power lines.
- Keep a firm footing and use extra care while on ladders.
Whether it is a permanent residence or vacation home, it is important to prepare your Outer Banks home ahead of the change in seasons.
For all of your real estate needs and questions, please reach out to us at Outer Banks Realty Group. Our team of agents would be happy to help!