Steps For Pressure Washing Your Charlotte, NC Home
If you’ve joined the Tik Tok community, been on Youtube, Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen the many videos of pressure washing ‘shorts’. These videos are often ‘therapeutic’, gratifying and mind blowing. It may often make you as a homeowner want to go to one of the big box stores, buy a pressure washer and start slinging water around. But hold on, not so fast!! There are a few things you need to know before pressure washing your house or starting a pressure washing business.
This article is written for homeowners looking to pressure wash their own homes. You will learn all about the three P’s: Products needed, the safety Precautions to take, and the Process. This article can also be helpful to those looking to start a pressure washing business but we will have a separate article to specifically cover that in the coming days.
The 3 P’s of Pressure Washing
We will now dive straight into the three P’s of Pressure Washing in this section. This will teach you all the basics of pressure washing your own home. In an effort to make this understandable for the homeowner, I will not be using muh industry jargon, and every item I reference will be available to purchase via amazon or one of the big box stores.
The first on the list of the Three P’s will teach you about the products you will need to wash your home so, let’s get started.
- Pressure Washer. This one is the obvious one. Of course, you will need a pressure washer to get started on pressure washing your home. This can be purchased on amazon, walmart, lowes etc. The type of pressure washer needed will vary, depending on home size. For a standard, one-story, ranch style home, you will not need a machine more than about 1.8 gallons per minute(gpm) with maximum 2500 psi. For a two-story home, you will need at least a 2.5 gpm machine with maximum 2500 psi so that you can reach the top peak of the home spraying from the ground. Below are a couple of links to a few pressure washers that will work for homeowners. If the psi is high, there is usually an adjustable knob to turn down the psi. Pressure washers usually come with the wand and 4 tips for the wand. You will need to buy one additional tip for most homes to reach the peak without a ladder. The link for that is provided also.
- Sodium Hypochlorite or Bleach. Sodium Hypochlorite(SH) is the primary chemical found in bleach. The strength of sh will vary in bleach. In the industry, we usually buy in bulk at 12.5% sh, whereas in the grocery stores, you usually find about 6% sh in bleach. The sh is essential to pulling the organic growth from your home siding. Those organics include algae, moss, mold and mildew. Using sh will allow you to use little to no pressure, thus causing no damage to house siding.
- Surfactant (soap). A good, thick soap is necessary to help remove dirt and to help the sh cling to the house siding. In the industry, we use a commercial grade level surfactant, designed to cling to siding and help remove dirt. The homeowner is able to get away with using laundry soap or dawn dish soap.
- Soap Applicator. Some pressure washers will come with a soap applicator. If yours does not, you will need to purchase one of these to put your soap and sh into, to spray it on the house siding. I attached a link below for an example but you will need to purchase one that is specific to your pressure washers gpm and psi.
- Shopping bags. Next time you are out shopping at a grocery store, keep the bags. These will be used to cover up electrical outlets outside.
- Tarp and painters tape. The tarp will be needed if you have sensitive flowers or a garden bed within a couple feet of the house siding. Tape will be needed to tape the grocery bags to the outlets.
The second of the three P’s are the precautions to know and take before power washing your home.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Making sure you have all your ppe in place is huge. Since we are working with the chemical of Sodium Hypochlorite(SH), we run the risk of getting chemical burns on our skin, hair, and eyes. I will list out the minimum ppe needed to protect you from any accidents below.
- Rubber Gloves: These can be disposable or dish gloves.
- Goggles: You will ideally want enclosed goggles to protect all directions to prepare for wind.
- Rain Jacket: A rain jacket is good to protect your skin from the blowback of sh while you are washing your home. You may even be comfortable using a 100% polyester jacket or long sleeve shirt. If the sh gets on your skin, it can make you itchy, cause a rash, and even give chemical burns.
- N95 mask: You would ideally like to have a proper rated mask to protect your lungs from the harsh smell of SH. You may be able to get away with using a lower grade mask, but this is recommended at minimum.
Preparation of property. Now that you are suited up in your minimum ppe, it’s time to prep your property. You will first take the shopping bags and tape, and identify all the electrical outlets. Now cover them with the shopping bags and tape the entire rectangular area of the outlet. The tape should run along the edges of the outlet and the siding to allow water to runoff the bags.
Now that outlets are taped, we want to bag up light fixtures. This is not always necessary as the outside lights are designed to withstand weather conditions. We do this as a precaution in case the caulk is worn from the fixture to the wall.
***Some houses have fans, televisions, speakers, cameras and more outside. If you have this, get a large plastic wrap from lowes to wrap your speakers, cameras and fan. You may use tarp for your television. Big thing here is to create a barrier with tape so water always runs off the siding and tarp, rather than sink in through gaps.***
Be sure to put a small piece of tape on key holes so that sh doesn't get into it. Sh will corrode the springs and cause the lock to fail. Tape and cover all doorbells. If cable boxes have any gaps, wrap those too. Tape ends of any exposed wires. Cover the ac unit with tarp (not required).
***Some houses have painted or stained doors. This is super important. If your door has been painted an actual color or is stained wood, it would be best practice to tarp the doors too. If you are unsure, rub a dab of bleach on a lower section of the door that isnt very visible and let it sit for about 15 minutes. If the paint or staining fades or turns colors, you will need to tarp.***
Now that tape and wrap is complete, water the grass that surrounds your house up to about three feet out. Diluting vegetation allows it to withstand the sh runoff. If you have any sensitive plants or garden around your home, dilute that as well and then place a tarp over all of the sensitive plants and garden.
The last of the three P’s will explain the process of successfully power washing your house. Some of this has already been covered in precautions. The property is prepped, we have our products and we are ready to wash. Start washing on the side of the house that looks the worst. Always do a test spot on your siding before washing the house. This is done by spraying bleach on a small and inconspicuous area of the home and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. If there is no adverse reaction, you can wash your home. If there is a reaction, consult a professional.
- The Detergent Wash. This part will vary depending on the strength of your store bleach, and the pressure washer. I will give you a general rule of thumb to try and you may need to tweak this a bit by adding more or less bleach. Fill the foam cannon you purchased about 1/3rd to 1/2 of the way full. Now add two tablespoons of your soap. Fill the rest with water.
Begin Washing. We are set up and ready to go. Connect the foam cannon to the pressure washer and fire it up. Start applying the solution to the home by spraying from the bottom of the house to the top in sections. You may need a 6-8 foot ladder to reach the peak of your house. Do not let the solution sit for more than 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, check the first side of the house. If the algae and organics have come off, then your solution is good and you may rinse that side of the home. If the algae is still present, strengthen the detergent by adding ¾ full of bleach this time. If the algae melts off in a minute or two of the detergent application, the solution is too strong and should be diluted before continuing.
Usually work on one side of the house at a time depending on speed. Remember, let detergent dwell for only about 10 minutes. Rinse from top to bottom. I usually spray windows first so that the sh doesn't have a chance to streak them up. If you let bleach dry on windows, you likely will need them professionally cleaned to restore them correctly. Rinse with low pressure. Pressure does not clean houses, the chemical does. Use the two-story tips to start high at the peaks and as you get lower, change the tip out to a white tip(40 degree). NEVER use pressure to clean a house unless it's brick or stucco. Even then, you should not need much pressure. Pressure WILL destroy your siding or cause it to damage the first layer of paint. This will result in water lines along your house and cloudy patches of paint. That is a very expensive problem to fix.
When rinsing, always stand about 4-8 feet back of the siding so that there isn't direct pressure. Your pressure washer may even have an adjustable pressure knob. Turn it down about halfway or so. Another option is to use the “soap” tip to rinse as long as there is no actual detergent in the pressure washer while you rinse with that tip as it contains almost no pressure with that particular tip.
Once finished washing a side, water the grass again. When you complete the house wash, check and ensure all organic growth has been removed. SUCCESS! You did it. Now wrap up the machine, untape and unwrap your house and pat yourself on the back.
This article contains a rough overview of how to wash your house. Go to our Youtube page to see demonstrations of some of this stuff to gain better confidence. I would always recommend hiring a professional to wash your house as there is so much that can go wrong. Too much pressure due to a lack of understanding of the process or products. Too much chemical, oxidation of your house, broken windows, fried electrical outlets, broken televisions, dead garden etc. If you are unsure, always hire a professional. Sometimes, trying to save money can cost you much more in the long run. McNeil Pressure Washing LLC are exterior cleaning specialists that will get this accomplished for you on average of 1.5 hours, as opposed to the 4-6 hours on average for the homeowner. Check out our work, ratings and reputation online and book with us today!