Your house siding will get dirty in time as it gets exposed to the weather elements. This will leave your house looking old and unsightly. It might even become a health concern if mold and mildew build up around the house. Using a pressure washer to clean your siding is an easy and quick way to restore the newness of your house.
To pressure wash your house siding start by soaking the surface with a multi-purpose detergent. Then proceed to rinse and wash the siding. When all that has been done, let everything dry for a couple of hours.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? It is. However, there are some details that I should go over before you start on a project like this. You should be familiar with the types of washers, nozzles, attachments you might use. Also, it’s important to prep the area as well as know some safety measures to take.
Prep Your House for Pressure Washing
Before you start pressure washing you need to do some preparatory work to ensure safety and to avoid damage to your house.
Clear your yard and pathways
You’ll want some clearance around the house so that you can freely walk while pressure washing. Having furniture or garden tools randomly lying around can be a tripping hazard. You might trip and fall or you might accidentally spray and damage a glass window or door while avoiding something on the ground. This would also be a good time to trim any shrubbery that lie close to the house siding.
Keep children and pets a safe distance away
The blast from a pressure washer is powerful and can dislodge and throw bits of dirt and grime into the air. If you can, keep children and pets inside the house while working on this cleaning project. This way, they can avoid getting hit by falling debris and blasts of water. You’ll also be able to focus on the task at hand, rather than have your attention divided between them and the cleaning.
Check for asbestos and lead paint
If you have an old house check to see if it has asbestos and lead paint. Usually, it’s the houses that were built before 1978 that have this issue. Pressure washing lead paint can lead to lead paint chips falling off, which are hazardous to your health.
Wear safety goggles
Just do it. It might look dorky, but safety goggles will protect your eyes. You don’t want to be hit with falling debris and blasts of water ricocheting off the side of the house. There’s a lot going on during this cleaning task. Better to be safe and protect your eyes.
Turn off electricity to open outlets and cover light fixtures
You want to be careful when using water around electricity. Go to your circuit breaker panel and turn off electricity to the open outlets around the outside of the house. Protect your light fixtures, such as sconce lights and flood lights by putting a plastic covering over them.
Close all your windows and doors
This step is needs no detailed explanation. You pressure wash with your windows and doors open and you’re going to make a mess inside your house.
Prep Your Cleaning Detergent
You should soak and wash your house siding with a cleaning detergent. It’ll loosen up the dirt buildup and kill off bacteria like mold and mildew.
The right cleaning detergent might depend on the specific type of house siding you have. You can always go with a multi-purpose pressure washer cleaning detergent. However, if you’re more particular with what you need, you can look into detergents for specific applications:
- Fiber cement
- Synthetic Stone
- Engineered Wood Siding
For those who are into environmentally clean detergents, there’s a market for that too. If you’re a pet owner, there are pet-friendly detergents to choose from as well.
Try to find environmental and pet-friendly detergents to protect your plants and animals.
You can also make your own pressure washer detergent. There are lots of DIY recipes on the Internet. Most people use some mixture of water and vinegar. What seems to be the most popular is a 70% water and 30% white vinegar mix.
Prep Your Washer and Attachments
Setting up a pressure washer should be pretty straightforward. If you’re using an electric pressure washer you’ll need to find an outlet to plug it in. Gas pressure washers need gas.
Make sure your pressure washer has a water source. Connect your garden hose to the unit.
Select the nozzles you’ll be using. You’ll be starting out with the black tip pressure washer nozzle. This is also called the soaker/soaping nozzle. It’s attributes feature a 65 spray pattern and a large orifice size. The design delivers a low pressure spray with wide coverage, which makes it ideal for soaping large surfaces.
After selecting the black tip nozzle, you might want to bring out the white, green and yellow nozzles as well. You will probably use them in that order. The white has a 40 degree spray pattern, the green has a 25 degree spray pattern and the yellow has a 15 degree spray pattern. As the spray patterns become more narrow, the water discharge because more focused and intense. You’ll want to be more careful as you begin applying more water pressure to the house siding.
Get ready an extension wand because you’re probably going to need it, especially if you’re pressure washing a 2-story house. Extension wands help you reach those high and hard to reach places. What’s even better than an extension wand, if you can afford it, is a telescoping wand. These are basically adjustable extension wands. Extension wands not only help make the job easier to complete, they also keep you safe. Pressure washing on a ladder is dangerous. You could lose your balance from the pressure recoil and fall.
All of these attachments range from $15-$75 depending on what kind of quality attachment you buy. If you use it more frequently, it will be worth it to invest in higher quality items. Usually, these attachments will be included when you rent a pressure washer from a home improvement store or company.
Start Pressure Washing
Now that all the prep work has been completed, the time has come to start pressure washing your house. The fun is about to begin!
Start soaking and soaping the sides of the house with detergent. Using the black nozzle, begin spraying. Stand about a foot away from the side of the house and adjust as needed. Work from the bottom to the top of the house, moving horizontally and using evenly applied strokes. This movement helps avoid streaking which would otherwise occur when working from top to bottom. Use an extension wand for hard to reach places.
When washing be sure to aim your wand at a slight downwards angle. You don’t want to spray water up into any crevices or in between the sidings.
Let the detergent do its job in loosening up the dirt buildup. Give it 5-10 minutes, being careful not to let any area dry out completely.
Switch over to the white or green nozzles. Either of these nozzles can be used to rinse off the detergent. For a more powerful spray, go with the green nozzle. Just be careful if you decide to skip the white.
Before using the green nozzle, test its spray on an inconspicuous area of the house siding first to see the effect of the spray. Determine if it discharges too much water pressure. You can adjust by either going back down to a white or standing further away from the house.
For areas that have mold and mildew you might want to jump to a yellow nozzle.
Begin rinsing, this time starting from the top and working down to the bottom. Again, use horizontal strokes. Wash off all the detergent.
Let house siding dry for a couple hours.
Take Care of the Gutters, Too!
After you’re done pressure washing your house siding, consider spending a little extra time pressure washing your gutters. House gutters can accumulate debris such as leaves, branches and dirt. These things will clog the gutters, making it difficult for rain water to properly be channeled away from the house.
Water overflow from the gutters can damage the gutters due to the excessive weight. It can also damage or leave streaks on the side of the house.
There are special pressure washer attachments that make cleaning gutters an easy task. Just search for gutter attachments on Google or on Amazon. You’ll definitely need an extension wand too.
The Clean Up
Pressure washing your house siding will leave the ground below a bit of a mess. All the dirt and grime that was on the siding has to fall somewhere after it gets blasted. Fortunately, you can also use your pressure washer to clean up these areas.
You can use your pressure washer to spray your driveway and walkways. Force the dirt to the side or into the grass. Consider using a pressure washer broom attachment to speed things up. A broom attachment looks like a push broom, except at its end there’s a line of 3 or 4 nozzles that provide you with expanded spray coverage. You’ll be able to make fewer passes over dirty sections you’re washing.
After you finish pressure washing your siding, you have a few more steps to clean up the residue left behind. All the dirt and grime had to go somewhere and usually, it ends up around the bottom of your house. Flush the area with clear water from your garden hose to dilute the detergent and dirt.
Don’t forget to clean the pressure washer before putting it away. Careful maintenance and regular cleanings will prolong the life of your washer. Remember to do the following:
- Rinse out the detergent or cleaning solution from the pressure washer.
- Remove the detergent tube from the machine and water supply.
- Set the sprayer to low pressure and run water through the system for 1-2 minutes.
- Relieve pressure from the machine. Turn off the pressure washer and water supply.
- Flip the trigger lock and let the machine cool down.
- Disconnect the garden hose and all attachments. Drain them all of water.
- Remove any remaining water from the pump.
- If you have a gas engine, pull recoil handle six times.
- If you have an electric machine, turn the unit on until all the water comes out and shut it off immediately.
- Clean off any debris.
What Kind of Pressure Washer to Use to Wash Your Siding
The kind of pressure washer you use will determine how good a job is done. Things like power, output, and attachments can all make a difference. There are also different kinds of pressure washer brands and costs to consider. Not to mention the fact that you can buy a pressure washer outright, or rent one for the day. It all depends on what works for you.
There are gas and electric pressure washers that you can buy or rent depending on what kind of power you need. Generally, pressure washers that run on gas are stronger than electric powered ones. This is due in part to gas pressure washers having an engine that backs up the power — the more powerful the engine, the stronger the water and sound.
Electric pressure washers are smaller and more portable, so they’re easier to store. So, if you are on the market to buy one, it’s a safer bet to buy an electric one, so it’s easy to store in your garage or shed. They are generally quieter too, so no need to wear ear protection or upset the neighbors.
Either pressure washer can deliver when it comes to cleaning your house siding. It would be better to look for a higher-powered pressure washer if you have a lot of dirt and grime to get off your house. Don’t forget you can rent one too! That way, you don’t need to spend the money to buy one or have to worry about storing it if you only plan on using it once.
What Does PSI Stand for?
Pressure washers use a high power spray to get dirt and grime off multiple surfaces. Each kind of pressure washer deals out different amounts of power measured by pounds per square inch (psi) that the water applies to the surface when they come in contact. The gas pressure washers have greater psi potential compared to electric.
That is why gas pressure washers are recommended over electric ones since they can provide more power to get rid of dirt and grime on tougher materials. Although, power does not solve everything. There are house sidings, such as hardboard or rock-dash stucco, that can be damaged from too much power.
To that effect, the amount of psi you need varies depending on the material of your siding. Wood, aluminum, and stucco should be treated with 1,200-1,500 psi pressure washer. Use a 25-30 degree angle nozzle to spread out the water stream and lessen the power even more for delicate stucco.
For brick, stone, vinyl, and steel siding, you should use 2,500-3,000 psi since the material can handle it. You can talk to any home improvement store employee for details about your project to make sure you’re getting the right pressure washer and extras needed to clean your siding.
How Often Should You Pressure Wash Your House Siding?
You should pressure wash your siding at least once every two years. This can depend on what kind of climate you live in. If you live in cooler, wet climates, then your siding may be more prone to developing mildew, meaning you should pressure wash at least once a year. Use your own judgment as well. If your siding looks dirty, then you should probably wash it.
An easy way to tell if you’re siding is in need of cleaning is the color. If your siding was white when you bought the house, and now it’s yellow or brownish, it could use a good pressure wash. Cleaning it will also prevent mildew and dirt build-up that occurs over time. There isn’t any way of preventing it besides just cleaning it routinely.
The environment around your home can also affect how dirty your house can become over time. If you live in subtropical climates, near construction or dusty roads, build-up and temperature can lead to the need for more frequent pressure washes. Light-colored siding will also show more dirt than darker colored ones, which means you’ll have to clean more.
House siding is also exposed to the elements, which means it will get dirty faster than the interior of your house. It will also wear down the siding over time.
If your siding was built before 1978, get it tested before pressure washing it! These sidings can contain lead paint or asbestos, and be potentially dangerous to you or others around your home. Remove it first.
Maintenance Tasks for a Pressure Washer
If you plan on buying a gas pressure washer, you will also have to upkeep maintenance on the machine. You’ll need to replace the oil and check spark plugs, air filters and the overall system from time to time. It’ll all depend on how often you use the machine.
Here are the steps you should take whenever you check on your gas pressure washer:
- Replace the engine oil.
- Old oil can mess with the engine and ultimately lead to you having to replace the entire engine.
- Replace the oil for a quick fix by flushing out the engine and catching the oil in an oil pan.
- Replace with new oil and make sure not to overflow the engine.
- Inspect the spark plug.
- Clean around the spark plug before removing it to prevent debris from getting into the engine and messing it up.
- Remove the plug and inspect it. If it looks burned or pitted, replace it with a new one.
- Use a gap tool to inspect the electrode gap before installing the new plug.
- Check the air filter. Clean or replace it with a new filter depending on the kind of filter you use.
- Take care of the fuel system
- Use fresh oil – don’t use oil that 30-days old or older because it will corrode your engine.
- Pick up Ethanol-free gasoline because it’ll stay fresher than gasoline you get from the pump.
- Use a fuel stabilizer to increase the longevity of your engine and prevent corrosion.
- Reconnect the spark plug wire before you use the machine again
If these steps sound too much for you, you may be better off renting a machine or hiring a professional since they will upkeep the machine for you.
Should You Rent or Buy a Pressure Washer?
You may have been wondering whether you should rent or buy a pressure washer while reading this article so far. It really comes down to how often you will use it. A pressure washer and its attachments will pay for themselves after the second or third use in comparison to rent prices. This only matters if you use it often.
If you don’t see yourself using it more than once a year, or once every two years, it would be more cost-effective to just rent a pressure washer when you need it. You’ll need the safety equipment that you can also rent or purchase on your own. If you won’t use a pressure washer often but know others who will, you can rent out your own to them, too.
Renting a pressure washer from Home Dept costs around $100 a day, while you can buy a good quality pressure washer on Amazon around $300. Buying one is steep upfront, but can pay itself off if you use it three or more times after purchasing it. Again, if you don’t see yourself using it more than once, renting is the right way to go.
Renting a machine also means that you can return it when you’re done. That means you won’t need to worry about storing it or upkeep of the machine. If that doesn’t matter to you, buying could be a better option. It all comes down to your preference and comfort level with various tasks.
When to Hire a Professional
Another option you have to pressure washing your siding is to hire a professional to do it. They would bring all the equipment and spend an hour or two it would take to clean your siding. This is the best option if you are unsure how you would fare doing it yourself. It isn’t difficult to pressure wash your own house. However, it can be if you have difficulty moving heavy equipment.
You can also hire a professional as a safety precaution. Professionals are trained on the equipment and the correct protocol on what attachments and solutions to use on your house siding. It can seem a bit overwhelming to get all the items yourself, and a professional will know and have everything needed to get the job done.
It costs between $150-$750 depending on the company and the size of your home. The bigger the house, the more expensive it will be to get a professional to pressure wash it. They will also want you to get your home checked for lead paint and asbestos, so get that done before hiring them. Also, get multiple quotes to find the best deal.
This price can be pretty steep from some people, but the support and expertise can be worth it. A novice can injure themselves or damage their house siding if they aren’t sure what they are doing. An expert can take that worry away. Plus you may only get your siding cleaned once a year, so the cost won’t be recurring.
Pressure washing your house can be done on your own. It’s just a matter of your preference, finances, and knowledge on pressure washing before you start. This article set out to fulfill that knowledge piece for you. Hopefully, you feel more comfortable in what you decide to do, whether it’s taking on the job yourself or hiring someone to help.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the attachments and maintenance needed to own a pressure washer. These will help you get the job done faster and keep your machine in working order for longer. Renting these items can help alleviate the need to maintain and store your machine.
All in all, use this information the next time you pressure wash your house siding and keep your house looking great. Not to mention promoting the longevity of your siding, which can save you money on needing to replace it. Plus, you can get in the gutter with your pressure washer to clear that out. Then hand-wash your windows and doors for a complete clean!