Get It Done THE St Louis Handyman “Power Washing Your Home”

I just bought a house covered with vinyl siding and have noticed dirt and cobwebs all over it. Do you “wash” a house? How do I go about such a task? Do I rent a power washer or is this professional job?  Help!

J.S.   West County

Answer:

Dirt, cobwebs, and even mold can grow on any surface of a home.  Although this won’t generally create a problem, it can be quite unsightly.  Giving the exterior of your home a cleaning can be done in a couple of easy ways.

If you have vinyl siding, aluminum siding, wood siding, or brick, a power washer is a relatively easy way to make things look great.  If you are only cleaning out cobwebs, a simple garden hose may be the easiest way to clean things up, but this generally won’t get dirt off from higher places on the home.

If you have Masonite siding, or other “hardboard” siding, a power washer may not be the best method for you.  If there is any paint peeling, power washing can cause the hardboard siding to swell up and become damaged.  The best thing to do here is to use bleach and a garden hose.

A power washer takes your household water (about 3 gallons per minute) and runs it through a pump and motor, increasing the pressure of water to 2300 PSI (pounds per square inch) making it much more powerful than a regular garden hose.

Power washers can be rented at many home improvement stores or rental stores for about $70 per day.  If you rent one, be sure to get a briefing on how to start and operate it.  If you wanted to purchase one, generally $300 would be a starting price for a gas operated power washer

A power washer may come with several different tips for the end of the spray nozzle, usually from 0 degrees to 40 degrees.  Always start out with the largest degree tip or spray pattern, as the smaller degree tips can easily cause damage to siding or wood.  It is strongly recommended to become familiar with the power washer by spraying an area of the grass before pointing it toward the house.

Always start at the top of the house so the dirt coming off will be falling onto areas not yet washed.  Hold the end of the nozzle about 2 feet from the siding at first, getting only slightly closer if needed.  Keep moving the wand, not staying in one place too long, as you could damage the wood or siding.

If you have a two-story home, you may need to have an extension ladder to reach near the top.  This requires a great deal of safety awareness, as you don’t want to get the ladder wet when standing on it.  A slippery ladder is not a good thing to stand on. By power washing to one side of the ladder, you can eliminate getting the ladder wet.

For difficult stains, if you have siding other than wood, you may want to spray some household bleach on the area, but be sure to rinse it off completely, not letting it stay on more than one minute.  If the bleach is left on the siding too long, it could change the color.

When you’re all done, you can use the power washer to rinse your windows, as water run off will likely get them dirty.

This is the process and it can be an enjoyable job – especially if you like getting wet on a hot summer day!

Get It Done

THE St Louis Handyman

Steve

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