Many times we go to a job and see things that could have been avoided. We are all for do-it-yourselfers, after all we can’t do everyone’s job. Here are some problems we see…we hope you’ll read this before, so it won’t cost you a lot later.
Don’t do this if you try to pressure wash yourself…
We’ve come across homeowners that believe pressure washing is all about using high pressure. They’ll rent a machine from a big box store and then try to blow away the dirt. It is the solution that does the work, not the pressure. Because the dirt and mold is not going away, the tendency is for people to remain on a narrow spot for too long. If you do this on vinyl or aluminum siding you will mar the surface. If you do this on brick or stone you will force water into the material, which can cause an efflorescence effect. Efflorescence is when salts evaporate out of the brick or stone. Brick and some stone naturally have these salts. Click on the photos below to see damage caused by improper use of pressure.
Above I mentioned “It is the solution that does the work.” Unfortunately, this is not something a homeowner can easily purchase, it is also something you wouldn’t want to mishandle in the strength needed when power washing. The solution to clean a house is made up of approximately 12% sodium hypochlorite and a surfactant. Sodium hypochlorite is used as a fungicide and an oxidizing bleach. You probably have a watered down version of sodium hypochlorite in your laundry room, commonly know as bleach. A common bottle of bleach however is too diluted to clean a house as it’s only around 3%, and since it is missing the surfactant it’ll also run off the house before it has time to work. It is the surfactant that keeps the sodium hypochlorite on the house long enough for it to do it’s job. I’d like to be clear on one thing…no solutions are put on a house at full strength, they are instilled by the water coming out of the machine. That means the solution we use gets mixed with the water when we are spraying it on the house. You may say to yourself “then why can’t I just put solutions I’m able to get in the machine since it’s being diluted anyways?”. It is because your solution is already weak and as it gets diluted while being sprayed on it becomes too diluted to be effective.
Equipment from big box stores are not professional equipment. What is available for the homeowner to rent are machines that output around 3 gallons a minute. Any power washing machines under 4 gallons a minute are ineffective. Having less volume of water will cause a do-it-yourselfer to overwork an area causing the problems mentioned above. You may think that using a machine that can handle 6 gallons a minute is a waste of water. The truth is, because higher water volume cleans more effectively you will probably use 1/4 of the amount of water than a lower volume rental machine does by the end of the job. This is important to keep in mind if your home has a well.
Be careful if you have a well. If you have a well you may not know until it’s too late that you have caused damage. For people who need to take care with their well output we will bring 350 gallons of water on the truck. This supplements the well so we can judge the output before anything bad happens. For homes that we know we may encounter a problem we will put a hose from your exterior spigot into our already filled tank. As we work we can see if the water level in our tank is dropping and adjust our work accordingly.
Rental machines do not have hot water, some professional ones don’t either. Our machines are set up for hot water for a reason. Hot water cleans better, especially in early spring and fall when daytime temps are cooler. Hot water also allows for some concrete and stone to be cleaned without chemicals.
Another common error is the technique of pressure cleaning. Beside having a tendency to stay in one spot for too long, novices need to learn how to use the wand and nozzle settings. There needs to be a sweeping action that feathers out at each end of making your passes. You need to get a feel for this, which can take a while. You really don’t want to be learning on your home as your mistakes really can’t be fixed and you may not even see them until the house drys.
RINSE, RINSE RINSE. Then rinse some more. Eons ago I started in the family business as a window cleaner. I saw so much damage to windows from pressure washers that I added pressure washing to my business, now that’s my main business. If you do not get all the chemical off your windows you will etch your glass. The windows will get a cloudy appearance. You can get a professional to come in and remove the damage by buffing it, but it’s expensive and hard to find someone.
Your safety. I mentioned how you wouldn’t want to mishandle the solutions needed to pressure clean. These are caustic and can cause chemical burns on your skin and eyes. Protective gear is needed. The power washing machines themselves are also dangerous. The amount of pressure that comes out of the nozzle can remove the skin off of an area you accidentally hit while working. You need to be very attentive while operating a pressure cleaner. It is very easy to injure people, pets and plants in the surrounding area.
Be careful of your plants. Pressure cleaning around plants needs some skill. Plants can die if put under plastic or tarps for even short durations because of the heat build up. We have found that prewetting plants and continuing to rinse off plants during the process offers the best results. For some of our clients who plant close to the house we will specify certain times of the year for their yearly maintenance to keep their plants from becoming damaged.
Using a pressure washer requires substantial knowledge on its techniques, operations and safety precautions. You may not have the proper equipment & solutions available or the experience. When wrongly handled, you are most likely to cause damage to both equipment and property. Additionally, when safety parameters are not adhered to, you could also cause damage to people and/or pets. When you hire Diamond Jim’s LLC you can be assured that there will be no such cause for worry since we are experts in this area.
Not all professionals are professional. Unfortunately, because of the economy many power washing businesses have popped up as these individuals think that for the price of an ad and the use of a cheap machine they can go in business. I clicked on an ad for roof cleaning in my area only to see this fly-by-nighter using photos ripped off from my website. Please, when getting your home or business quoted go with someone reputable, ask what equipment they have now that we’ve explained what’s needed, ask how long have they been in business, get their insurance certificates. I have seen more permanent damage done by newbies learning on people’s homes which is one of the reasons I created these “What Not To Do” pages. If I can’t get to your job there are only two other pressure cleaning businesses I recommend. Give me a call and if they are in your area I’ll pass along their information.