Ask Angie’s List: All about pressure washing your house
Pressure washing offers a great way to quickly blast dirt and grime from exterior surfaces like driveways and decks, quickly and efficiently freshening up the surface.
Pressure washing basically uses a water pump and electric or gasoline motor to power a high-pressure hose and sprayer to generate an extremely powerful spray. In some cases, detergents or other chemicals are used to enhance the effect.
Sometimes, the term is used interchangeably with “power washing,” but they’re not quite the same thing. They use very similar tools, but power washers also heat up the water to loosen up dirt or grease.
You should take great care when it comes to both pressure washing and power washing, as both require the use of potent tools typically best left to the professionals.
HIRING A POWER WASHING SERVICE
On average, you can expect to pay between $180 and $380 for a pressure washing job. When you hire a pressure washing or power washing service, make sure they’re up to date on EPA regulations regarding runoff water and environmentally safe chemicals. Also, be sure they have experience with the type of house you have and verify that they carry their own insurance to cover any damage to your home that may occur.
Most professionals suggest you avoid power washing siding. Siding is particularly vulnerable to damage, and the vents in most siding can allow water to get caught in between the siding and the home, causing wood rot. This is a case where it’s best to rely on a professional who has the expertise to use the right pressure settings and who can identify whether your siding will be easily damaged.
If your house’s exterior contains lead paint, the work needs to be done by an EPA-certified specialist who can safely wash the exterior without contaminating the nearby area.
DOING IT YOURSELF
If you do decide to rent a pressure or power washer and do the job yourself, take care to do it correctly and safely. A rental washer will generally cost you between $40 and $75 per day. You can buy your own electric model for between $70 and $200, while a more powerful gas model ranges between $300 and $1,000.
Protect your face with safety goggles or a face shield. And, before you use the washer, inspect it for damage such as cracked hoses, broken seals or rusty nozzles.
Read the instructions carefully, and follow them. Familiarize yourself with the various power settings; in many cases, more power is not necessarily better, and it can make damage more likely.
Treat the washer itself with proper respect. The stream can strip skin from the body, so never aim it at another person, and make sure the area is well clear of bystanders while you work.
Take special care to protect your doors, windows and plants from the stream. A pressure washer can break glass and even doors.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.