Powerwashing Your Home

So you want to power wash the exterior of your home. (ProTect Painters DOES NOT recommend you power wash the interior of your home.) Experts suggest power washing to remove mold, mildew, and dirt every two years or when your neighbors offer pained expressions and pointed fingers as they drive by. And, if you are about to have your house painted, power washing is a must because paint will not adhere to dirty surfaces. Whatever your motivation, you've come to the right place.

The first question is do you really want this do-it-yourself project? The how-to videos make it look easy, don't they? (Instructional videos make golf look easy, too.) If you need to wield that power wand, then follow these steps for best results:

Assemble the right materials and equipment: rubber gloves, safety goggles, bleach and water mixture-one part bleach to 10 parts water-one soft sponge, brush, bucket of water, concentrated liquid detergent made specifically for power washers and your type of house siding, plastic drop cloths, rented 2500 psi power washer, a loving supporting spouse within ear shot, and, just in case, the phone number of your nearest ProTect Painters owner.

Take these precautions: Wear shoes and clothes you are about to donate to charity because we guarantee you will get messy and wet. Clear the area of all furniture, loose items, large debris, and disagreeable hornet or wasp nests. Add to that list people you know by name, beloved pets, prized plants, and delicate heirlooms. Make sure all the windows and doors are closed.

There are a few more things you need to do before exerting any power: Walk around your home and look for mold and mildew. Pre-treat the spots using the bleach, brush, gloves and bucket of water. [IMPORTANT TIP-never put bleach into the power washer. It will turn an angry color and spray in unintended directions.] Repair any damaged areas like loose siding or deteriorating wood.

Turn off power to exterior outlets-water is a shockingly good conductor of electricity-and cover lights with plastic and tape. Trim any bushes, shrubs or other plants that are touching your siding. Wet any shrubs near the siding with a garden hose-soap can damage plants. Cover outdoor foliage with plastic drop cloths.

ANOTHER CAUTION: Do not power wash your home if you think it has been painted with lead paint. Typically, these are homes painted before 1978. If you think your home might have lead-based paint, visit our website to schedule a free inspection and on-site recommendation.

Finally, you are ready: Locate the nearest water source. After everything is connected and you turn on the water, beware that the pressure is very powerful and the hose will want to leap out of your hands like a stray dog or a $100 bill. If you have never used a pressure washer before, set a good example for your children by being extra careful. Try holding it with both hands-a baseball, interlocking or overlapping grip is acceptable-to keep it under control. Eventually, when a crowd forms, you may be able to hold and direct it with one hand. Keep the spray directed at the areas you want to clean or at anything uninvited. First, spray the entire house with fresh water. This will begin loosening all the dirt and dust. Always spray horizontally in a three-to-four foot area. Begin at the bottom of the house and work your way toward the top. But, don’t spray up at the building since it is possible to force the water up under the siding which could cause mold or mildew problems. And, unless you are auditioning for America's Funniest Videos, be sure to turn the sprayer off before putting it down.

Applying the detergent: Follow manufacturer's instructions for siphoning the detergent and adjusting your pressure. Apply it in the same manner as you first sprayed the home. Begin at the bottom of the home and work your way upwards. Pay close attention to the gutters. Allow the detergent mix to sit on the exterior for two or three minutes maximum.

Time to rinse: Remove the siphon tubing from the detergent jug. Turn the power washer to high power. Working from the bottom up, spray off the detergent mixture from the siding. Conduct a final spray rinsing from the top down of each section to finish the wash. Repeat this process until you have power washed the entire home exterior, or when you and the machine have run out of gas.

Final thought: Planning to paint your house? Wait two-to-four hours after power washing if you live in a dry environment, Phoenix for example. Or, wait a full 24 hours if you live near St. Louis, MO, Macon, GA, and Mobile, AL.

Request a Free Estimate - Contact us today for a free on-site analysis of your interior and exterior painting needs or call 877-881-8971.

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