Pressure-washing the exterior of the home can be an effective way to clean it in the spring and fall.

Pressure-washing a home is an effective way to remove stubborn grime and refresh the look of a home’s exterior.

Pressure-washing, utilizes a high-velocity water spray to remove dirt and residue from the exterior surfaces of a home. It is frequently used on vinyl siding, concrete and sometimes wood decks to treat mildew and other growth that accumulates over time.

Pressure-washing can be a great way to remove grime without having to scrub by hand. But it requires a delicate touch to get it right. Sometimes it is best to leave the job to professionals. But homeowners willing to give it a go can try pressure-washing themselves, as various stores rent power washers. Most units will connect to a standard garden hose.

The home improvement website ImproveNet says that, until very recently, pressure washers were almost exclusively commercial machines sold to professionals or rented to do-it-yourselfers. Lately, manufacturers have targeted homeowners looking to buy with lightweight options. For those who see pressure-washing as a routine venture, purchasing a unit may be worth the investment.

It is important to exercise caution when operating a pressure washer. The high-velocity spray can tear through skin. It is key to get a feel for the washer, and try less pressure first to get a handle on the magnitude of the tool. Don safety gear prior to using a pressure washer. Gloves, eye protection and ear protection can be handy. Choose old clothing and expect to get wet. Never point a pressure-washer hose at anyone and do not attempt to rinse feet or hands in the spray.

The renovation resource The Family Handyman suggests starting with a wide-degree nozzle to test out the spray on the surface that needs to be cleaned. A 15- or 25-degree nozzle is usually the wand for general cleaning and paint stripping without damaging the surface of the home. Experiment with an optimal distance of the washer wand to get the desired cleaning effects without causing any damage. Work using a horizontal and slightly downward angle to avoid driving water up under the siding of a home.

Avoid spraying any electric wires or components on the home. Also, try not to spray upward, and angle the spray away from doors, windows and vents.

Some washers have reservoirs that will hold a detergent solution. Choose the right detergent for the job. Keep in mind that cleansers containing bleach can damage surrounding plants, so they may need to be covered while the washing takes place.

Avoid the use of ladders when operating a pressure washer. The push-back from the wand can cause falls. Instead, opt for an extension wand to address the upper reaches of a home.

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