This time of year, we are often asked to come out and look at cleaning up the outside of a home. We look at several things: what is the exterior finish (Siding, brick, stucco, etc), how are the eaves constructed (open or closed), is the house exterior painted, stained, or capped with aluminum?
In most cases, power washing the exterior is the most efficient method for cleaning it up. However, several aspects must be considered prior to starting. Will a ladder be needed? Is there severe algae on the surface? Are there any repairs that are needed prior to starting? It is always best to start at the top and work your way to the bottom of each area. It is very important to remember that the way the exterior is designed is to shed water down from the top. The power washer nozzle must be angled down and not up. Pointing the nozzle upwards can cause large amounts of water to enter windows, doors, and can even get behind siding and trim boards. All flashing around windows and doors is designed for water to run down from the top. Windows themselves are not designed to keep water out that is being blasted at it from the bottom up. The same goes for all doors. Remember that the doors to you home are not submarine doors. They are not designed to have water blasted at them in the wrong direction. They will leak.
In some cases, power washing alone might not be enough. There are many products on the market that help clean or breakdown the dirt. TSP and “Crudcutter” are two examples. These products can be sprayed onto the surface and will loosen up dirt and algae. Applying water through a power washer will then leave the surface clean and looking like new again. Use a little common sense if you are thinking of tackling a project like this. Remember that homes are built and designed to keep the water out when it comes from the top down and not the other way around.