Power washing, also known as pressure washing, removes mildew, dirt and debris that dull the appearance on your home's siding. Power washing your house at least once every two years brings out its best appearance. The strong stream of water blasts away the residue without the need for scrubbing, and it's a great way to prepare for a new coat of paint. If you have a two-story home, you'll need to use a ladder to reach the upper areas, or an extension wand. Working with a pressure washer requires a special technique to avoid stripping paint, gouging siding or even causing injury.
Power washing your home on a clear day without heavy winds for the best results. If you own a pressure washer, you are in luck when it comes to cleaning the siding on your two-story house. In the past, you had to rent and then erect scaffolding so you could reach the upper levels. This took a lot of time to complete. With a pressure washer, you can clean the entire house while you remain safely on the ground.
How to Power Wash Two-Story Homes
To execute this safely, just follow the steps below.
- Close all of the windows and doors. Turn off the power to any external electrical outlets or hardware. Remove any furniture from the area while washing the house.
- Spray any surrounding plants or shrubs with a garden hose to help protect them from the dripping, cleaning solution. Cover plants with a plastic tarp.
- Fill a garden sprayer with 3-parts water to 1-part bleach. Spray the siding with the bleach solution to coat it thoroughly from the top downward. Use a ladder to reach the second story. Affix an extension wand to the power washer, if necessary. Work your way across and around the house. Note: Skip this step if you have painted siding or if it's not excessively dirty.
- Attach a maximum pressure spray pattern nozzle onto the end of the wand. In most cases, you simply pull back on the coupler at the end of the wand and then snap the attachment into the coupler.
- To reach areas of your home 12 feet and higher, you'll need to use a maximum pressure spray-pattern. Start at the top of the siding and work your way down. Be sure to stand off to the side to avoid getting wet.
- Work from left to right starting at the top of the house; overlap each stroke by 50 percent to ensure you remove all of the dirt.
- Stand at a safe distance from the home and off to the side so you do not get hit by deflecting water. Pull the trigger on the wand and then move closer to the wall so the water reaches the top-left corner of the house, just below the soffits.
- Move back away from the house as you work your way down. This will reduce the spray pressure as you move down and the wand gets closer to the wall. Do this to avoid damaging any fixtures or glass because the high pressure can damage siding.
If some upper level spots are a little stubborn, consider getting a telescoping wand. These fiberglass or aluminum extension poles can extend your spray gun from 12 to 24 feet. Without the telescoping wand, pressure diminishes as it climbs. The telescoping wand maintains the pressure much longer, resulting in a stronger, more concentrated spray.
We have categorized pressure washers depend on their PSI output into 4 types specifically light duty, medium duty, heavy duty and extra heavy duty pressure washers. To know much better, let us first define PSI. PSI basically points out to the total water pressure created by your pressure washer. It can vary from 1000 PSI to over 4000 PSI.
Extra Heavy Duty
All of professional grade pressure washers create over 4000 PSI and are outstanding for heavy duty industrial applications. They are typically gas variants and have plenty of raw power. Variety begins from 4000 PSI and above. These are most ideal for every single thing except autos, trucks and patio outdoor furniture.
Majority of higher end Semi-pro pressure washers can conveniently generate about 3000 PSI but only a few manage to get to as far as 4000 PSI. These types of are best for pathways, car port floor, driveways, outdoor patio, secure fencing, decks, stairs and floor. On the other hand, these are bad for cars and trucks.
The optimal pressure in this variety is 3000 PSI and it commences from 2000 PSI. These are very well for pathways, garages, garage floor, secure fencing, wood deck, floors, stairs and furnishings.
A large number of commercial pressure washers or domestic washers are created for light duty usage. These individuals put in a maximum of 2000 PSI and are good for basic household jobs. These are good for wood deck, fences, garage, stairs, floor surfaces, stain removal, exterior siding, cars, trucks, furnishings, sidewalks and driveways. However, these are bad for wall prep work for paint and second floor washing.
Outdoor Pressure Washing
No matter what kind of material your home exterior is made up of – hardie plank, bricks, wood, stones or vinyl siding, at some point in time, it will require some kind of maintenance. It will require a thorough cleaning at some point as well. In fact, it does not really matter whether your home is new or not, all homes require some extent of cleaning job sooner or later.
When the time comes, you will have to make a decision – either you will do the cleaning yourself or you will hire a professional pressure washer/pressure cleaning contractor to do the cleaning for you. To tell you the truth, the price of hiring a licensed cleaner to professionally clean and wash your home exterior has never been more affordable than now, and with winter just lurking around the corner, the prices of these cleaning services may continue to go down even more. However, for those who would like to know how to clean their home exterior by themselves using their own trusty pressure washer, then check out the tips shared below.
This is a detailed step-by-step guide to pressure washing/cleaning your home exterior. In truth, it is not a really difficult thing to accomplish, but you still have to be very vigilant at all times and you need to pay full attention to what you are doing. It is absolutely easy for most homeowners to pressure wash/clean their home exterior by themselves. However, keep in mind that in your own home, you can still encounter dangers that are waiting to happen should you keep your guard down. Therefore, when you are using your pressure washer, you must completely devote your attention to the cleaning task(s) you are doing.
Below are very valuable tips that can help you clean your home using pressure washer.
Before you actually start pressure washing/cleaning your home exterior, do take some time to walk around your home and see if you have any broken windows, missing boards or insulation that needs replacing in order to avoid accidental spraying of water into your home. Water damage can become your worst nightmare, even at low pressure spraying (1000-1500 psi). Moreover, if your pressure washer can produce water pressure of up to 3000 PSI, everything that is fragile will certainly be damaged. Thus, before you start, ensure that everything is in place and that there are no openings which can become a passageway for water to enter inside your home.
In addition, secure all plants and greenery from water damage and also protect them from any chemicals that you might be using too. Of course, keep in mind that before you start pressure washing/cleaning the exterior of your home, do keep all pets out of harm’s way and in a safe, secure and dry place until you are done with the cleaning job. Don’t forget to tell your children and other members of the family as well that you will be doing some pressure washing so they will know when to keep out from where you are cleaning. Safety is always the number one priority when you are pressure washing the exterior of your home. Of course, pressure washing your home can be a fun activity when it is done properly and cautiously, but when done inappropriately and carelessly, a pressure washer can become a very fatal weapon that can damage or destroy anything (or anyone), so do keep in mind the be extremely careful when operating one.
After safety and security has been checked out from your list, the next thing to do is to remember to follow all instructions and directions that the manufacturer of the pressure washer has recommended. In simpler terms, follow their guidelines on how to properly operate the pressure washer. Read every word in the manual and do not dismiss the other points laid out in it, as any instructions you have failed to read on the manual may very well cost you big time. You should very well know the good things and the bad things that can happen when you use a pressure washer. Also, as a primary precaution, ensure that you do not put the fuel can very close to the pressure washer when it is running.
Most pressure washer contractors like to clean the traditional way. However, there are some expert pressure washer contractors who use a double combination method to definitely knock the dirt out. The first step is to make a mixture of water and sodium hypochlorite (otherwise known as bleach). In some areas, you may very well deal with mold and mildew throughout the year that can certainly damage your home if left unchecked. If definitely left unchecked, you will about to experience the horror of black/green mold and mildew that can turn any beautiful home into unsightly and old structures.
After a thorough application of water and bleach solution on the house, allow about 10 to 15 minutes to pass before you begin the second step of the double combination method. If you see some fungi that smell terribly bad, use a pump sprayer and apply undiluted bleach directly onto the surfaces throughout your house. Repeat the application if the fungus looks very thick and deep set. Again, allow the bleach some time to do its work before you go to the next step. When the bleach has changed the color of the mold and mildew from dark to light, apply a separate treatment and a product that is specially formulated to kill mold. This is the only way on how to effectively kill stubborn mold and mildew in your home.
After allowing the bleach ample time to kill the mold and mildew, apply a citrus base cleaner which has a pH level of 12. When it comes to pH levels, 12 is the strongest of all. A certain product called Limonene is one perfect example for a cleaner having a pH of 12 – and this is the second step in the double combination method. Most expert pressure washer contractors regard this as their secret weapon in combating hard-to-remove molds and mildew as well as other grime and stains that may cling to the surfaces of the exterior of your home.
Pressure washing your home is not very hard to do and you do not have to be some kind of genius to be able to get the job done, but you do need some common sense and practical ideas in order to reach a safe ending and achieve a beautiful cleaning job that you can certainly be proud of.
Pressure Washer FAQs
Pressure washers are considered by many, whether industrial, commercial or residential applications, to be the pinnacle of cleaning equipments. These machines allow you to remove tough and hard stains from solid surfaces with ease and with hardly any time. They are the perfect cleaning equipment for a multitude of cleaning applications.
There are quite a number of people who are already aware of the potential of pressure washers, but are reluctant to purchase them because they have a lot of questions running through their head. However, if these questions are answered for them, it is likely that they will consider getting a unit for themselves as pressure washers are truly amazing cleaning partners. The list below shows some of the more frequently asked question about pressure washers or pressure washer faqs and their corresponding answers:
What is Pressure Washing? – Pressure washing is the utilization of highly pressurized water to help remove dirt, muck, and grease on solid surfaces. The water pump is responsible for generating this pressure. The water then travels towards a spray tip which creates a restriction to provide a different spray pattern. Pressure washer units that are able to generate high amounts of pressure, with the use of the right nozzle, have the capacity to strip the paint off of walls. However, with the right usage, pressure washers are cleaning buddies that can help you clean surfaces at incredible speeds.
What is More Important, Pressure or Rate of Flow? – Both pressure (PSI) and rate of flow (GPM) are important because they are able to provide the power needed for cleaning surfaces. Think of it this way: the pressure is responsible for lifting up dirt while the rate of flow is responsible for providing weight to the push of the pressure.
I have a Gas Pressure Washer, Do I Need to Remove the Fuel when Storing it? – It depends. If you are storing it for just a week, then there is no need to remove the fuel. However, if you will be storing your unit for quite some time, say 2-5 months, it is only proper that you drain the fuel from its tank. This not only is a safety precaution or measures, but it also prevents the fuel from becoming stale inside the tank.
Is there a Maximum Length for the Pressure Washer Hose? – It is usually recommended to have a length of around 100 feet, but this can still be increase. Just remember that you will be losing a PSI per feet of hose. If you are using a chemical injector, chances are that there will be problems if your hose is over 100 feet. Should this occur, just move your injector closer to your gun.
What do the Colors in the Nozzles Stand for? – Basically, the colors in nozzles stand for their spray tip.
RED - 0° Tip – this is a narrow and concentrated flow of pressurized water and is not recommended for wood and delicate masonry. Recommended surfaces for this tip are metal and concrete.
YELLOW - 15° Tip – this is meant for heavy duty cleaning. With enough pressure, this tip can be used for stripping loose paint off of concrete.
GREEN - 25° Tip – this is meant for general cleaning as it has both power and spray angle to help perform most cleaning tasks.
WHITE - 40° Tip – this tips has the most spread and with the least amount of force. This tip is recommended for rinsing and washing sensitive surfaces.
How Do You Clean a Clogged Nozzle? – Turn off you unit and remove the nozzle from your wand. Try cleaning the hole with a small piece of wire to remove any debris trapped in the hole. Flush it with water and reattach it to your wand. If the nozzle is still clogged, do the de-clogging step over again.
Is there a Need to Replace the Nozzles? – It depends on how often you use you unit. However, if you notice that there is a gradual loss in pressure among your nozzles, then it is time to replace that nozzle. It is not likely that all your tips will wear out at the same time.
Is there a Need to Oil the Pump? – Yes! In most cases, it is recommended to use non-detergent oil. You can consult your owner’s manual to determine the recommended oils for your unit.
Can I use the Hot Water from My Tap on the Unit? – No! Using incoming hot water will damage the seals of your pump. Pumps typically have a thermal relief valve. This means that if the temperature inside your pump goes beyond what’s recommended, the thermal relief valve will pop to prevent damage to your pump.
What is a Thermal Relief Valve? - This device helps to lighten the load of the pump to prevent it from overheating. This is because when the unit is on and the gun is not depressed, the pressurized water circulates inside the pump creating heat.
What does By-Pass Mode Mean? – This is the cycling of the water inside the pump when there is no flow towards the gun. There are certain safety issues concerning this as the moving parts inside the pump creates friction which buildup heat and transfer it to the flow of water. This is mostly because during cycling in bypass mode, no cool water enters the pump. Operators need to remember that they are not allowed to run their unit in bypass mode for more than 2 to 3 minutes.
My Chemical Injector Does not Work? – Make sure to use the chemical tip that your machine has when you purchased it. This tip will most likely be colored black. Also, if you are using a hose that is over 100 feet in length, there is a possibility that that is the one causing the problem. This problem can be remedied by using a shorter hose.
There are other questions that people often have about pressure washers. The ones mentioned above are just the most common. If you have any other queries about pressure washers, researching online can greatly help as there are many websites who offer answers and solutions.
Pressure Washer Glossary
When reading about pressure washers, there are times you will encounter words or terms that you do not understand or recognize, which is why a glossary is both essential and beneficial as it helps people understand the jargons being used when talking about pressure washers.
Listed below are just some of the most common pressure washer jargons:
Adjustable Pressure Regulator – this is a type of valve system that not only unloads the buildup of pressure, but it also allows the operator to manually adjust the operating pressure that is suitable for the current task.
Adjustable Spray – these are pressure washer nozzles that have spray patterns that can be adjusted on different angles to suit the current task. These adjustments can be made with a simple twist of the nozzle. These types of nozzles are mostly for residential-type pressure washers.
Axial Pump – this pump is responsible for turning the circular energy of the motor into the pumping action of a piston.
Belt Drive Pump – pressure washers that are powered using a belt drive use pulleys and belts to deliver power from the motor to the pump. The use of a pulley system may not be as efficient in delivering power as that of a direct drive, but its main advantage is that it can last several times longer.
Bypass Mode – this is the cycling of the water inside the pump when there is no flow towards the gun. There are certain safety issues concerning this as the moving parts inside the pump creates friction which buildup heat and transfer it to the flow of water. This is mostly because during cycling in bypass mode, no cool water enters the pump. Operators need to remember that they are not allowed to run their unit in bypass mode for more than 2 to 3 minutes.
Cavitations – this is a method of depriving the pump of water. Once air fills the pump, it will cause it to vibrate. Frequency of this method, however, will cause damage to the pump.
Ceramic & Non-ceramic Plunger Pumps – Ceramic plungers contains coating around the plunger to make it more robust. Non-ceramic plungers are more susceptible to heat which gives them a shorter life, and often, premature failures do occur.
Chemical Injectors – these are attachments that allow chemicals or detergent to be sucked into the water stream. However, this only works with low pressure nozzles with larger sized orifice as running chemicals using high pressure tips could potentially cause damage to your pump due to the chemicals you are using.
Direct Drive Pump – pressure washers that are powered using direct drive are able to directly power the pump from the motor through a drive shaft. This means there is practically no loss of energy during the transfer of energy. This makes it more efficient, but is more prone to wear.
Effective Cleaning Units (ECU) – this is a mathematical formula for measuring the performance of a pressure washer. ECU= PSI x GPM.
EZ Start Unloader – this component relieves the pressure on the pump thereby starting the engine is much easier; beneficial for electric starter engines as they are less prone to wear.
Gallons Per Minute (GPM) – this is the amount of water that flows out of the unit per minute of operation.
Gear Drive Pumps – this is a method that allows the operator to lower the speed of the pump to reduce wear. Using this type of system in between the pump and the motor means you can cut the speed of the pump by nearly half.
Ground Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI) – this is a system that help protect the user from electrocution.
Jetter – this is an equipment that is used for clearing clogged drain lines and sewer lines. The use of pressurized water along with a jetter nozzle will allow you to clear away heavy clogs.
Jetter Nozzle – this is a nozzle with strategically located orifices which allows them to pressurized water on different directions.
Overhead Valve – this is an efficient internal combustion engine that not only runs cooler, but also has reduced gas emissions.
Overhead Valve Industrial – this is an industrialized version of the overhead valve.
Powder Coated – this is a painting process where the paint is bonded to the object electrostatically with which it is then baked to create a tougher finish.
Pressure Washer Hose – this is a tough hose that is able to accommodate high pressures. These are usually wire braided to add strength to the inner rubberized hose.
Pressure Gauge – this is a device installed on equipments to measure the pressure that is currently being generated. These devices are a must on jobs that require a specific amount of pressure.
Purge – this is a process of eliminating air inside the pressure washer unit.
Revolutions per Minute (RPM) – this is a measurement of the number of rotations a motor or engine makes per minute.
Spray Nozzle – this is a wand attachment that is responsible for directing the flow of water at certain angles. Nozzles are interchangeable which means you can choose a type that is suitable for your current cleaning task.
Thermal Relief Valve – this equipment or device helps to lighten the load of the pump to prevent it from overheating. This is because when the unit is on and the gun is not depressed, the pressurized water circulates inside the pump creating heat. The thermal relief valve releases the water and allows cool water to flow in to prevent any damage to the pump.
Trigger Gun – this is the equipment used to regulate the flow of water. If the trigger is depressed, the water flows out, but if the trigger is released, the flow of water stops.
Unloader Valve – this device is responsible for initiating the bypass mode when the trigger is not depressed to prevent any buildup of pressure. This also helps to prevent damage to your equipment.
Wand – this is a device or attachment that extends the gun, sort of like a gun barrel, to allow easier control and aim of the pressurized stream. The wand is also where nozzles can be attached. Specialized types of wands are able to extend up to 24 feet to accommodate cleaning of elevated areas.
Types of Pressure Washer Nozzles
Pressure washer nozzles are perhaps the immediately responsible accessory that makes pressure washers a valuable tool. In other words, these nozzles have the final say to how a cleaning task will conclude. The truth is there are literally hundreds of nozzles for pressure washers that are available in the market, and each one is suitable depending on the PSI and GPM that a pressure washer can generate.
It can often be frustrating trying to figure out what type of nozzle is perfect for your pressure washer. It seems as if any type of nozzle will do. However, each pressure washer nozzles have different purpose and features which is why you need to choose carefully which one is suitable for the job. It is important that the nozzle you choose is right for the cleaning task you have. Thankfully, pressure washer nozzles are color coded to help you determine what pattern of fan spray they make.
Red Tip - this is the zero degree nozzle that creates a pencil-like stream of water. It generates the highest force in a pressure washer stream as it concentrates the jets of water on a very small area. This cleaning force is ideal for cleaning caked mud and cement of construction equipments. Despite its cleaning power, this type of nozzle is not the most effective if you are planning to clean a larger area.
Yellow Tip - this type of nozzle creates a 15 degree fan pattern. These pressure washer nozzles are commonly known as chiseling tips because you can use it like a scraper to peel off paint, mold, or mildew. You will discover that when some cleaning tasks becomes tough, you will resort to using this type of nozzle.
Green Tip - this type of nozzle creates a 25 degree fan pattern which is the perfect type of washing tip. In fact, this spray that this nozzle makes can also be used for sweeping dirt and foliage on flat surfaces. Green-tipped pressure washer nozzles have the most type of cleaning application because it has the perfect balance between power and coverage.
White Tip - this type of nozzle creates a 40 degree fan tip. This wider dispersion in spray limits this type of nozzle to rinsing and fragile cleaning. They are ideal for washing and rinsing cars and glass. They are also highly suitable for cleaning wood, patios, and delicate items.
When faced with a cleaning task, it is important that you pick the right type of pressure washer nozzle for the job. It is also important that you make sure that the nozzle is properly secured as the high pressure stream that the pressure washer generates can hurt or damage property if you lose control.