Power Washing a Deck – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

power washingI’m thinking of refurbishing my deck.  Should I power wash it first, or use the deck cleaning products?  My house is in need as well.

Great question.  I am a believer in power washing.  If your deck has not been stained in about 2 years, power washing will get the dirt out like you won’t believe.  There are some that do not recommend power washing a deck, but I believe power washing will do a better job than the cleaners, with less effort.  However, it does take some practice to use a power washer.  You don’t want to use a spray nozzle with a tip that is less than 20 degrees spray.  If you do, it can scratch the wood and leave marks.  Use a wide spray, and after practice, you will get the feel.  Sometimes, you will need to have the nozzle closer than 12” to the wood, but as long as you are using a wide tip or spray, you shouldn’t have any trouble.  If you are planning on doing the work yourself, a power washer can be a good investment.  Just be sure to allow enough time to do the job correctly.

If your deck has mold on it, you may need to use a bleach solution.  Simply spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then power wash it off.  However, if you are power washing the vinyl siding of your home, and it has mold (usually on the North sides), do not let the bleach sit longer than 2 or 3 minutes.  If you do, it could discolor the siding.

The electric power washers are good, although generally not as powerful.  They are also much lighter if you should have to carry it.  I believe that you don’t have to buy the most expensive power washer, so do some research to see what is best for you.

After power washing your deck, be sure to let the deck dry for at least two days before applying a stain or sealer, and be sure to follow the directions of the stain manufacturer for the amount of time that is required afterwards where there won’t be any rain.

When power washing your home, a ladder may be needed.  If so, remember that the ladder will be wet, so use a great deal of caution.

Turn Your Shut-Off Valves On and Off – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis – Get It Done

Shut off valvesWe regularly remind people to occasionally turn their shut-off valves off and on.  A shut-off valve is one like you have below your toilet.  Not all, but most faucets, whether kitchen or bathroom, have shut-off valves.  You’ll also have some in the basement on your water  lines, as well as a valve to shut the water off for the entire house.

One reason we suggest you occasionally turn these valves is so that they don’t stick.  After a period of non-use, these valves can get so hard to turn that a wrench is required to turn them, and that can also lead to the handle breaking.  If you are having a faucet replaced, or replacing parts to your toilet, the water has to be shut off.  Or, if you have a sudden leak, you will want to quickly shut the water off to the toilet or faucet.  If you have a problem turning the valve at this point, your only option is to turn the water off to the whole house.  You’re then faced with having no water until the leak is fixed.

By occasionally turning these valves (including the whole-house shut-off valve), you can be sure that they are working properly and will shut the water off when you need to.  If you don’t have shut-off valves for your faucets, they can be added fairly easily, if you know to sweat copper pipes.

Occasionally, these shut-off valves can develop a small drip, especially after they have been turned off.  If this happens, tightening the nut behind the handle will usually do the trick.  Also occasionally, when you turn a valve off, it doesn’t completely stop the water.  In this case, the washer on the shut-off needs to be replaced.  If this happens, and you don’t know how to replace the valve, you can try taking just the stem of the valve from a new one and replacing it in the existing valve, as long as they are the same size.

By adding the turning of these valves to a regular household checklist, you will be certain that when needed, the valves will work as they are supposed to.  It would be a great way to start the new year in keeping up with your home.