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A home that looks downright dirty and rundown isn’t doing your property value – or your neighborhood – any favors. Power washing your house can be a simple, yet effective way to remove dirt, grime, and moss. Before you get started, we’ve got some tips for power washing to get you on the right track!
Create a Safety Perimeter
Before starting any kind of cleaning job, it’s important to clear the area of chairs, bikes, or any kind of obstruction or possible tripping hazards.
Start by establishing a safety perimeter around the area where you’re about to wash. Make sure that it’s wide enough for you to move around. If you’re doing the job with a companion, take turns keeping watch to make sure children and animals remain a safe distance from the area.
Protect Your Assets
A power washer creates a tremendous amount of force that could cause unsightly splatter on adjacent surfaces.
Protect your shrubs, car, and lawn chairs by covering them with drop cloth or plastic sheeting and securing it with duct tape. Make sure that all windows and vents are closed to avoid getting water into your house’s interior.
Choose the Right Power Washer
There may not be a magic wand that instantly expels the grime from your house – but power washers come pretty close.
Before you rush off to the store to buy one, here are a few factors to take into consideration:
The size of a power washer’s engine determines its overall power output. This is measured in pounds per square inch or psi – and the requirements can vary based on what you’re trying to clean.
Some houses, like those located near a dusty road or in a new development, naturally accumulate more dirt than others. In the case of exteriors made of soft-grain wood or stucco, you’ll want to remain within a range of 1200 to 1500 psi. For tougher surfaces like brick or stone, it’s recommended to use a heavy-duty power washer that reaches pressure levels between 2500 to 3000 psi.
Most power washers on the market today come with three or four nozzles with varying widths that usually range between 0 to 65 degrees. The nozzle you choose determines the angle of the water stream – and a narrow angle is more powerful than a large one.
For general cleaning purposes, the 25-degree lifting nozzle should do a great job at banishing dirt and grime without damaging the siding. If some dirt remains, try going one degree lower to 15. Avoid using the zero-degree pinpoint jet nozzle; the pressure can be too strong and will most likely damage softer surfaces like wood or stucco.
Gas Versus Electric
Gas power washers tend to be a lot heavier than electric ones, but they offer the most power for heavy duty cleaning, especially on concrete surfaces. They also have a higher flow rate or GPM, which means they help you finish the job up to three times faster than electric washers.
And there’s the obvious advantage of gas washers being portable and cordless – so you’re free to move around without restrictions like long wires or electric outlets.
Our affordable gas power washer recommendation: Westinghouse WPX2700
Rated for 2,700 PSI, this gas power washer is ideal for tough surfaces, like brick, as well as stucco. It features a one-gallon gas tank and a half-gallon soap tank. The wheeled design make it easy to transport and the four quick-connect nozzles make it simple to use. It even includes a 25-foot hose with lightweight spray gun. Westinghouse backs this power washer with a 3-year limited warranty.
If 2,700 PSI doesn’t cut it, check out Briggs & Stratton’s 4,000 PSI option.
Our affordable electric power washer recommendation: Westinghouse ePX3000
Rated for 2,030 PSI, this electric power washer weighs just 19 lbs. and features a 360-degree wheeled design for maximum maneuverability. Like the gas option, this washer features four quick-connect nozzles. It comes with an extendable wand and 15-foot hose. Westinghouse backs this electric power washer with a 3-year limited warranty.
If you need an electric power washer with more force, check out Suyncll’s 3,800 PSI option.
Don’t Use a Ladder
Because a power washer delivers powerful and concentrated amounts of pressure, the water recoil is strong enough to propel you right off a ladder – even if someone is holding it up. Instead, invest in an extension wand.
If you want to reach higher areas of the wall without having to leave the ground, you’re best – not to mention safest – bet is to invest in a telescoping extension wand that’s at least 12-feet long. This wand has a high-pressure hose that is guided up the inside of the pole and connects at the tip. It allows you set the length from retracted to fully-extended.
Our reliable extension wand recommendation: Briggs & Stratton 9-Foot Extension Wand.
This extension wand comes backed by the manufacturer’s reputation for reliability and excellence. The 9-foot extension wand comes in three pieces that thread together, giving users more maneuverability. The quick-connect fitting makes switching spray tips simple. By adding an extension wand, homeowners can eliminate the need for a ladder to clean hard-to-reach places.
Use the Right Technique
To avoid streaks in your house’s exterior, start cleaning from the bottom and work your way up. Move the wand from side to side using long, overlapping strokes – make sure not to stay too long on any one spot.
Remember to always hold the power washer with both hands and aim it at a 45-degree or slightly downward angle. This will deliver a steady flow of water and, at the same time, keep the grime from splashing onto your feet or driving up the side of the wall.
To better control the power washer’s force, always start with the lowest pressure available. As soon as you get a hang of it, start to adjust the pressure as needed – but make sure there’s a distance of around 18 inches between you and the surface.
Steer Clear of Power Lines and Electric Devices
This goes without saying, but water and electricity are a dangerous combination.
If you’re using an extension wand at full length, always keep watch that the tip doesn’t touch any power lines running along the edge of the house. If you can, turn off the power connected to all outdoor electrical outlets and cover them using waterproof sheets.
Always Wear Safety Gear
The stronger the pressure, the faster the power washer gets the job done – but this also means it can be dangerous in the hands of someone careless or unprepared.
To ensure safe and proper operation, here are few pieces of safety equipment to consider while power washing:
- Because the water pressure of power washers is strong enough to cut through fabric, sneakers just won’t be enough. Steel-toed boots with rubber soles can withstand the force and reduce the risk of slipping on wet ground.
- The eyes are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. When power washing your house, consider wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes not only from water spray, but also from flying debris.
- Wearing gloves protects your hands from bruises and injuries and helps keep your grip steady as you hold the power washer wand.
- Even if it’s hot outside, you’ll need to cover your arms and legs to protect your skin from lacerations.
- Gas-powered machines tend to be incredibly loud when used for extended periods of time. Ear plugs can help protect your hearing.
7 Tips for Power Washing Your House
When done properly, power washing your house can be a quick and effective to give your home a fresh look. Always examine the area you’re looking at cleaning. Before you buy a gas or electric power washer, make sure to look into the specifications of gas and electric models. Don’t forget to wear proper protective equipment, like tough boots, gloves, and ear plugs!