How To: Clean and Be Successful At Pressure Washing
The key to successful and SAFELY pressure wash any surface is knowing the proper manner to clean the surface at hand. The old adage that high pressure is the key to cleaning is unfortunately a mindset of the past. A few things to understand how to properly use pressure washer. The sole purpose of a pressure washer is used to efficiently apply the proper soap and detergent, then remove the soil age with just enough pressure to break that bond. Im going to repeat that. Just enough pressure to break that bond. Any more more pressure you can destroy the surface at hand. Any less you will have sup par results and an unclean surface.
Here is a list of the most common surfaces we clean with our pressure washing service.
- Vinyl Siding
- EIFS (Dryvit, flexlite)
- Pressure Treated Decking
- Composite Decks
- Concrete walkways patios
- Paver patios
Vinyl siding is the most common exterior surface found in Lancaster PA. Over 80% of the home that we service and pressure wash are constructed or have the majority of siding being vinyl. Though vinyl siding is resilient and can last many decades before needing replaced, it can experience major oxidation from the elements, and most importantly from the Suns UV Rays. This is why when pressure washing vinyl siding it imperative to use low pressure. The key to low pressure is a house wash detergent or mix. As a professional pressure washing company we have access to commercial grade cleaners however the average home owner is able to purchase a variety of soaps at the big box stores or even at a local pressure washing supply house. Our low pressure technique is safe enough to wash our family dog with ( though I don’t recommend it). EIFS (Dryvit, flexlite)
EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems. Dryvit and flexlite are the two most popular types of EIFS. We get asked all the time if we are able to clean or pressure wash EIFS. And the answer is yes and of course. Many homeowner have concerns because they are away of how sensitive the surface can be and high pressure can most certainly damage or at the very least leave permanent markings from too much pressure. The cleaning process is very much similar to Vinyl however the cleaning detergent strength must be more concentrated due the porousness of EIFS. The algae, organic growth, and mold can live in the EIFS rather than on top like it does on vinyl siding. When rinsing the surface, the pressure is reduced to 200-300 psi and adjusted if needed for more stuborn stains. We find that aluminum window frames, screen frames, and sills that have recuring run off from water from the elements (rain snow etc) can and most likely will leave permanent staining in these areas. Though after applying the soap and rinsing with low pressure washing, they can be lightened.
Cleaning Pressure Treated Decking
Most home in Lancaster PA have some type of pressure treated decking. This could include a full wrap around deck, lattice or second story balcony. It is very important to remove any organic matter off pressure treated wood. Though pressure treated wood is very resilant to the elements, it can and will rot if left unmaintained. The best maintenance cleaning for decking from is sodium-percabonate. It is very safe, affordable and break the bond between the mold and the decking material. When rinsing with a pressure washer, you must use more pressure than you would on siding. Depending on how much build up is on the decking material, pressure can range from 800-1200 PSI.
The most common types of composite decks we pressure washing in Lancaster pa is Azek and Trex. Now I could go on about the issues with the early style of Trex composite decking, however in short, the majority of the early Trex decks were composed of more wood particle than composite material. The claim that they never needed maintenance was far from the truth. Luckily they can still be pressure washed, however you must use extreme caution. Azek decking on the other hand is full vinyl planks that can withstand higher pressure than Trecks. As stated abouve in the vinyl section, homeowners in lancaster pa can buy deck cleaners at big box stores or local pressure washing supply houses like Beco in leola
Horizontal Surfaces (Concrete Brick ETC)
When we service our clients in Lancater PA we will also pressure wash the front walkway or patio which is typically concrete or brick. These surfaces are much more porous and require higher pressure to break the bond of the grime. Since these surfaces are horizontal, they experience the wrath of all the elements and dirt and grime that makes it way most likely will not be washed away by itself. We typically pressure wash these surfaces first without and cleaner or soap to remove the top layer of grime, then come back after pressure washing and treat it to remediation any organice growth that is lurking beneath the surface. Depending on the age and construction of the brick or concrete in many instances 3000PSI + is safe to use. However, never just start blasting your concrete with your pressure washer. Always start with a lower pressure and increase the pressure as you go. This is two fold. First, remember that the goal of pressure washing is to remove the grime and dirt with the perfect amount of pressure – not too much not too little. Secondly, you don’t want to damage the surface. Though concrete is a very hard surface, it can still be removed with improper cleaning techniques and too much pressure.
Well now you have it! Those are the most common surfaces that we pressure wash in our immediate service area which is Lancaster PA. Please ask any questions before tackling your pressure washing project. We have seen so much damage done by the miss use of a pressure washer, buy home owners and so called “professionals”. You are more than welcome to send an email or give us a call with any questions you may have.