Cleaning a home exterior doesn't have to be a mammoth-sized project, according to Tom Kraeutler, host of the nationally syndicated Money Pit radio show. Pressure washing effectively cleans exterior surfaces in a fraction of the time manual scrubbing can.

The solution is the solution

Most pressure washers come with an injector to mix cleaning solutions into the jet stream. Solvents that are labeled “approved for pressure washer use” are generally best. Unapproved solvents may not be environmentally sound and could eat away at pressure washer components. Also, some household components can be dangerous under pressure.

Read the label

A solution that works well on concrete might harm metal. Some advanced detergents contain special chemicals to protect surfaces against salt, air pollution and acid rain.

Know your nozzles

The key to effective pressure washing is selecting the right angle. As a general rule, the smallest angle delivers the most powerful spray. For example, a zero degree angle is ideal for removing stubborn stains from concrete because it delivers a concentrated stream that can gouge or cut. On the other hand, if you want to scrape dirt away on your home, you should use a broader 15-degree angle.

Test of strength

Pressure washers are designed to pack a punch. If you start spraying too closely, you could damage, instead of clean, the area. For best results, hold the wand a couple of feet from the surface and gradually move closer as additional cleaning power is needed.

Hit your target

Be careful not to spray directly at eaves, vents or light fixtures. High water pressure can knock out loose windowpanes or break them. Also, keep the angle of the wand pointing down so you don't spray up under the laps of horizontal siding. This will prevent the siding from buckling under pressure.

The right stroke

Apply the soap mixture using low pressure with smooth overlapping strokes. To prevent streaking, start from the bottom and work your way up.

Relax before rinsing

Allow the soap mixture to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, but don't allow it to dry. When rinsing, start at the top and work down to ensure the entire area is soap free.




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