House Washing: Why, What to Expect, and How it’s Done
Pressure washing is an essential home maintenance service. Every home needs it done every 3-7 years depending on the type of siding, the climate you live in, and the level of tree cover around your home. We pressure wash vinyl siding, aluminum siding, wood siding, and composite siding. This article details the reasons for getting your home washed, what to expect from the process, and how we perform our services.
Why Wash Your House?
House washing removes algae, mold, dirt, and debris from your siding. If you have vinyl siding, odds are high that every year dirt gets stuck to your siding, and mold and algae spores begin to grow in that dirt. This growth is typically found on the north side of your home. It looks unsightly and in some extreme cases over time can permanently damage your siding and can cause respiratory issues for members of your family who have allergies.
Services such as soft washing can kill the algae and eliminate the spores, but may struggle to remove all organic matter from the siding as they use very low pressure. Pressure washing with an algae treatment, such as EcoWash’s sodium hypochlorite blend, will kill all the mold and algae spores with chemicals and remove all dirt and organic matter with the high pressure water.
If algae and mold aren’t an issue, tree sap or excess dirt likely may be. If you have multiple trees growing close to your home, they can limit wind and rain that hits your siding. This can make the siding a prime environment for excess dirt or tree sap. Both of these issues can lower the curb appeal of the home but are unlikely to cause permanent damage to the siding. However, if enough dirt is on your siding, you may be shocked to see the color of your siding after a proper cleaning. Many times our crews start washing a light gray house and by the time they are done the house is white.
All in all, pressure washing is done to return the siding to its original look. This service can increase the value of your home by approximately 5%. For many of our clients that value-add is 10 to 20 times the cost of the service.
What To Expect From Pressure Washing
Pressure washing is typically a quick process for a professional. If you are a homeowner looking to do it yourself with your own equipment, we recommend getting a friend to help you as you will likely need to get up and down a ladder multiple times. If you are using homeowner-grade equipment, you should set aside a full day or two for this project as low PSI and GPM pressure washers are very inefficient. If your house is more than one story tall, you will likely not be able to reach areas near the peaks of the home as the pressure drops off very fast as you get more than 2 or 3 feet from the siding.
If you are really intent on doing it yourself, we recommend you rent or borrow a 28-foot ladder, rent a professional grade pressure washer with more than 3000 psi and 2 GPM, and spend some time searching online for techniques to expedite the process. You should expect the project to take up a large portion of your weekend and it will be physically demanding.
If you make the smart decision to hire a professional, you can expect the service to cost less than $1000 if you have a standard sized home and in many circumstances it will be more in the $400-$600 range. Prices are variable depending on the size of your home and how dirty the surfaces may be. Chemical treatments or adding on a driveway or deck wash will increase the price. You can expect the service to take less than a day and the entire surface should be uniform and virtually spotless after a professional cleaning.
Many homeowners have concerns that pressure washing may damage their siding or cause water to enter their home. These concerns are reasonable but fortunately you have no reason to be concerned. Pressure washing will not cause any permanant damage to your siding, although it may remove some oxidation.
Oxidation removal is a temporary cosmetic issue that is rare but occasionally occurs on older or light-colored siding. Oxidation is a powdery film that develops on vinyl siding due to age and UV damage. High pressure can remove this in an uneven pattern on your home. These streaks can occur due to slight differences in the distance or angle of the pressure washer wand in our washing process. Fortunately, this issue resolves itself in about 2-8 weeks, depending on the level of oxidation. This resolves itself due to UV rays hitting the siding and reoxidizing the affected areas until it returns to the level of the surrounding areas.
Water should not get into the home unless the seals on your windows or foundation are faulty. EcoWash has washed several hundred homes over the past few years and we have never had a drop of water enter any of our client’s homes. As long as you don’t know of any faulty seals and you shut your windows prior to washing, you have no reason to be concerned about water entering your home.
Weep holes are small holes in vinyl siding that allow for drainage. These can become homes for insects or mold. During a pressure wash, these holes will likely get some water in them and drain out the debris within the siding. That can cause a faint rusty color to drip down your siding in a regular pattern. This is nothing to be concerned about and is not the fault of the individual washing your home. This runoff from the weep holes will come off with a quick rinse, a light rain, or even the morning dew. If this is something you notice on your home after you hire EcoWash to clean your home, we will come out there to rinse off excessive weeping hole runoff.
How We Perform Our House Washing Services
Our pressure washing service is done to the highest professional standards.
First, we walk around the home and do a visual inspection. This is to ensure the home has no open windows and we can be reminded of what areas of the home need to most attention.
After this inspection, we make a washing plan. We typically make it a point to get the dirtiest side first and wash top to bottom. In some circumstances, we alter this strategy to either make our services more efficient or to save us any unnecessary physical strain that may come with constantly switching between equipment.
Before washing the home or applying any chemicals, we water the plants around the home thoroughly so they become saturated with water and refuse to absorb any chemical that could cause them to become damaged or suffer leaf scorch.
After watering the plants, we apply our mold/algae treatment to the dirtiest side of the home. This is done with the black soap tip for the pressure washer wand. We thoroughly spray the sodium hypochlorite blend and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This may require additional spraying to prevent the chemical from drying on a hot and sunny day. If the chemical does dry, it will need to be thoroughly washed to remove any residue.
After letting the chemical sit for 5-10 minutes we begin to wash the dirtiest side top to bottom with the white 40° pressure washer tip. We do it this way because if we washed bottom to top, the bottom areas would require washing again as they will get runoff on them as we clean the siding. Top-down washing prevents this issue. We use 20-foot tall extension wands to reach the tops of houses so we avoid ladder use. Ladders can be dangerous when you are using machinery that creates a force pushing you backward.
After the dirtiest side, we continue to move across the home until every surface has been washed. We use the white 40° tip to ensure the pressure isn’t high enough to cause damage to extremely old and brittle siding. The 40° tip also covers the most surface area so it makes our services more efficient. If the 40° tip cannot clean an area sufficiently, we use the 25° or 15° tip. These force the water flow into significantly less surface area, therefore putting more pressure on the siding which removes debris much more easily.
In rare circumstances, we use the red 0° tip for hard-to-reach areas. This tip can damage siding or wood when used incorrectly. We use the red tip for washing areas that are too tall for the typical wand to reach but not tall enough for the extension wand. The peak above a garage would be a good example of an area like this.
After pressure washing, your home should be in excellent condition and have an increased value. For all of your pressure washing needs, we hope you reach out to EcoWash here.