With springtime approaching, many people get the itch to start cleaning up their yard and sprucing up the exterior of their home. One way to remove the layers of dirt and grime from the winter months is by pressure washing your siding. You can purchase your own power washer, costing anywhere from as low as a hundred dollars all the way up to several thousand dollars for a commercial machine.
If you only use it once a year, you can also rent one for around $50 to $150 per day depending on whether it is electric, gas powered, or one that can heat the water. For any less expensive model, the water pressure might not be strong enough to clean tougher areas, but too high PSI (pounds per square inch) can damage the siding.
There are some actions you want to take prior to starting your power wash. The following post covers one very important step before you begin spraying:
Before using the pressure washer, take a quick walk around the house to make sure that the siding is all intact and no pieces of vinyl have become loose. Check for cracks in the siding that water might penetrate and identify how the lengths of siding on long walls overlap. Make sure all of your windows are shut and check to see that caulking and glazing on those windows is in good condition so that water doesn’t seep in.
After you check the siding and windows, you would be wise to water down any foliage around the house to dilute the chemicals in the soap mixture. Next, you add soap as an emulsifier. You can use your own mixture, but there are products made specifically for power washers.
Start spraying with soapy water to soak the siding and loosen up dirt. Follow up with a rinse without the soap. This video provides some tips on mixing up your soap and techniques to protect your siding:
The level of water pressure varies for different tasks. If you are cleaning something that is mostly just covered in dust, a light-duty washer is fine. However, if you want to clean multiple layers of dirt, grease, and mildew off or the second story level of your home, you need more oomph, as in a heavy-duty sprayer.
This guide provides more information about buying or renting a power washer:
Pressure Washer Buying Guide
The pressure output in pounds per square inch (PSI) of the device is a factor in determining the kind of duties it can efficiently handle.
- Light-duty pressure washers are rated below 2000 PSI. They work best for cleaning patio furniture and siding as well as cars, trucks and boats. They can also handle sidewalks, driveways, patios, fences and decks.
- Medium-duty pressure washers generate between 2000 and 2800 PSI. They handle the same cleaning projects as light-duty models, but are best for siding, fences, decks and patios.
- Heavy-duty pressure washers put out between 2900 and 3300 PSI. These pressure washers work well for many cleaning jobs, including small areas like sidewalks, large areas like driveways, and jobs such as second-story cleaning. They can also help you prepare surfaces for paint.
- Extra heavy-duty or professional-duty pressure washers offer 3300 PSI and up. These models handle many of the jobs of other machines, but add more power for paint prep.
In addition to the pressure washer PSI rating, pay attention to the water volume the machine delivers, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). While higher PSI provides deeper cleaning, higher GPM means better cleaning and rinsing of difficult-to-reach surfaces. Use both PSI and GPM ratings to determine the cleaning power of a pressure washer. The greater the combination of the numbers, the more area you can efficiently clean.
Read more here: Pressure Washer Buying Guide
You can always use a garden hose to wash items, but the pressure washer combined with soap provides high-pressure power that helps to break the bond between the dirt and the surface that you are cleaning.