Tips for Pressure Washing

Pressure Washing a Deck
Pressure Washing a Deck
Damage Done by Power Washer
Damage Done by Power Washer

Most people think house cleaning is what you do weekly like cleaning the floors. Your home's exterior also needs periodic cleaning from pressure washing the siding, deck or porch and driveway.

What Happens When You Pressure Wash?

When using a pressure washer (also called a power washer), the pressure helps separate the dirt from the surface of your home similar to the pressure you exert when washing dirty dishes with a sponge. Depending on what you are washing, you use detergents or chemicals to help the cleaning process. A benefit of using a pressure washer is using less water than cleaning with a garden hose, because the pressure of the water cleans much faster.

Everyone has used a garden hose, and most homeowners assume that using a pressure washer is exactly the same. Unfortunately many homeowners learn this the hard way because the high pressure, when not controlled properly, can do significant damage as shown here.

How Does a Pressure Washer Work?

A garden hose supplies water to the pressure washer, that adds pressure with a small water pump. Pumps are powered by electricity (typically used by homeowners) or gas (commercial use) and they're measured by the pounds per square inch (PSI) produced. Electric powered washers can be used indoors while gas powered washers can only be used outdoors.

It is common to add a detergent or chemicals to the water but you must be careful about the chemicals you use:

  • Recommended for use with your pressure washer so it isn't damaged
  • Recommended for the type of surface you are washing, i.e. vinyl, wood and cars are very different.

Probably more important than the pump size is the nozzle that sprays the water. The nozzle controls the angle of the spray, which influences the amount of pressure applied to the surface you are washing. There are nozzles for general washing and others for specific tasks like stripping loose paint prior to painting a house. The wrong nozzle can damage soft surfaces like wood.

While this tool is very effective, it must be used carefully. Unless you are prepared to study the manufacturers manual, you may be better off by hiring an experienced professional who uses this equipment frequently. 

Tips on Using a Pressure Washer

What Can You Clean with a Pressure Washer?

The list of things you can clean with a pressure washer is fairly long. Often pressure washing proceeds other home maintenance tasks like re-staining and sealing a deck.

  • House Exterior - should be cleaned periodically to remove dirt, rust and mold or mildew on many types of siding. Wood homes that are painted, are typically only pressure washed in preparation for painting as the pressure will lift the paint anywhere it is not adhering tightly, leaving unsightly streaks.
  • Decks, Porches & Fences - are cleaned more frequently as part of routine maintenance. The new composite decks only need to be pressure washed and inspected for minor repairs. Wood decks need to dry out before they can be stained and re-sealed.
  • Patios, Sidewalks & Driveways - should also be cleaned to remove dirt, stains, mold or mildew, tree sap and other debris like bird deposits. Pressure washing these areas will help make the house look like new.
  • Roofs - can be pressure washed but must be done carefully so that water isn't driven up under the shingles. This type of washing is very helpful with forms of mold which are difficult to remove. The combination chemicals and pressure to clean, followed by the water to rinse all the debris saves time.
  • Lawn Furniture - can be cleaned with a pressure washer using a low pressure nozzle.

1 comment 3 years ago

Great tips. With a little practice and knowing a few basics, pretty much any one can be off to pressure washing in no time at all.

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