In the not-so-distant past, pressure washers were manufactured and sold exclusively for commercial purposes only. However, over the last decade manufactures have begun making pressure washers with the average homeowner in mind. The pressure washers made today for homeowners are typically lightweight, general-purpose machines that have price tags more like typical lawn care equipment. When shopping for a pressure washer for home use, most of us can easily get overwhelmed with all the options and are unsure about the amount of pressure needed. Typically, a 1300 – 1600 psi pressure washer is adequate for most household chores such as stripping a deck, degreasing equipment, cleaning driveways and washing siding. Many homeowners think that more pressure is more better but not so fast! More pressure can be useful but it can also be more dangerous so it is best to select the minimum amount of pressure you need to accomplish your goals. Another consideration is how often you plan to use the pressure washer. It you think you will only be knocking out these type of chores a few times a year it may make more sense to rent a pressure washer or hire professional pressure washing company. Typical average rental rates are $50 -$75 per day for a typical gas-powered 2500 psi pressure washer.
Pre-Cleaning Tips and Tricks
In most cases, you will need to pre-clean your siding before pressure washing it using the detergent attachment on the pressure washing machine. Depending on the type of pressure washer you are working with the detergent should be placed into the internal reservoir or in a separate container. As the detergent is pulled through the system it mixes with the water to make a diluted cleaning solution that is suitable for most cleaning projects. Detergent should only be applied in the low-pressure mode so that it has time to soak into the surface and effectively clean it. Another important tip that DIYers should be aware of is the type of detergent being used. Many detergents contain bleach which can damage surrounding plants, grasses and trees. It is important to use a general purpose detergent that does not contain bleach.
If you after inspecting your siding you see that some areas contain mildew you will need to clean those areas with a cleaning solution that does contain some bleach in order to effectively kill the mold prior to pressure washing. To make the solution, mix one part bleach with 10 parts water and wipe down the affected area. Use as little of the bleach solutions as possible to rid the area of the mildew then rinse the area thoroughly. For larger areas of siding that are infected with mold and mildew there is a product called Jomax that is available at hardware stores that may be more effective. Jomax is a mildewcide solution that requires the addition of bleach however it deactivates the bleach after it is applied making it much less harmless to plants and paint.
The main difference between power washing and pressure washing is that power washing uses water that is heated to a very hot temperature to clean and remove dirt, mud, mildew and other contaminates from exterior surfaces. Both methods utilize pressurized water to clean but some jobs are better suited for cold water and other are better suited for hot pressurized water.
The Benefits of Power Washing
Power washing works best for removing materials from hard surfaces that are deeply embedded and stuck on. Power washing works best for removing residue like salt, mildew and mold from driveways, patios, and decks. Power washing works really well for removing things like chewing gum and grease stains from concrete surfaces like sidewalks, driveways and garage floors. Power washing is the best solution for cleaning heavily saturated surfaces, it is truly the heavy duty option.
When Pressure Washing Works Best
Pressure washing utilizes the same high-pressure water blast to clean hard surfaces however the water is not heated up. Pressure washing is still a very effective method of cleaning, however may not be able to get rid of really tough stains on concrete. It is best suited for regular household cleaning uses and is less harsh on surfaces which makes it ideal for surfaces like masonry, brick and stucco.