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How to avoid pressure-washing pitfalls

When the exterior of a house starts to look a bit weathered, many homeowners reach for a pressure washer. But instead of doing it themselves, owners should consider hiring someone with experience. A professional pressure washer will use the latest equipment and the most advanced techniques that will get the home clean without causing harm to individuals, the home or the environment. Here are some things to think about when it comes to getting a home as clean on the outside as it is on the inside:

You know you need pressure washing when . . .

With various exteriors, the need for pressure washing becomes apparent in different ways. Brick can be harder to diagnose. A greenish moss may develop at the bottom or mold may cause some bricks to turn a darker color. Wood can become darker and also develop a mossy coating, but at a much more accelerated rate.

Trees, bushes, dirt and storm water can quickly discolor vinyl siding, changing it to shades of green, brown, black and yellow. When the siding becomes discolored, it's time to pressure wash. Pressure washing can be done any time of the year. Just make sure the temperature is comfortably above freezing.

The impact of the world on your abode

Moisture often leads to the development of mold and mildew. It also can cause the discoloration of vinyl siding and rust on metal railings and awnings. Damp wood can rot and crumble which provides an entryway into a home for insects and small animals like squirrels, rats, bats and others.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Doing it yourself with no previous experience can lead to damage to home and body. For instance, using the pressure washer in one spot on wood surfaces for too long or holding it too closely to the area being cleaned can permanently scar the wood. Brick and mortar also can be easily blasted away by using the wrong tip on the end of the wand, which can concentrate the stream and apply too much pressure.

Keep in mind that it's always best to hold the pressure washing handle with both hands. Failure to do so can knock do-it-yourselfers off a ladder or leave them watching helplessly while a spewing monster dances around the yard. Never pressure wash in bare feet or take aim at any unprotected skin. The high-impact stream can leave burns and abrasions and even remove flesh.

Chemicals with that water, sir?

Some companies will offer pressure washing services that include solvents that help remove dirt and other deposits from the surface of a home. The runoff from these chemicals can damage the soil and plants nearby. Even super-heated water with no cleaner can cause damage. That's why it's safer to go with a high pressure, cool water blast to clean the home.

When considering pressure washing a home, know that all parts of it can be cleaned using high-impact equipment. However, some advance precautions should be taken. If pressure washing a roof, make sure to use a lower setting so as not to dislodge any shingles. With brick homes, check the condition of the mortar before choosing the appropriate setting. The same goes for stucco. If dried and extremely aged, it can disintegrate with high impact water.

How to avoid pressure-washing pitfalls 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 4:50pm]

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