Featured Maintenance Task for April: Power wash your home's exterior

Our featured Home Maintenance Task for the month of April is power washing your home.  Now that Spring is here, the days are getting longer, and the temperature is warmer in many areas, it’s a great time for an annual cleaning of the exterior of your home.

Power washing your home’s exterior will remove dirt and mildew from siding that has built up during the year.  It will also provide a good opportunity for you to inspect your home’s exterior for any loose siding or trim, rotted or damaged wood, or areas where caulking or sealing is necessary.  The Spring is a great time to make these repairs before the heat of Summer causes wood to expand and crack.

Pressure washers can be rented from most home improvement stores as well as paint suppliers.  Depending on the size of your home, you should be able to complete a full wash within a day, and rental fees will range from $50 to 75 dollars a day.  You’ll want to be sure to get a model that is appropriate for the type of siding or exterior for your home.  Unless you intend to repaint your home, you want to have enough cleaning power, but not so much that it’s going to strip off the paint.

Many models also allow you to mix detergent into the stream as you go.  You’ll also have a variety of spraying tips to use for rinsing, washing or reaching higher points on your home.

Here are a few tips to pressure wash your home safely:

  1. Get a feel for the pressure washing wand before you get started.  You’ll want to know that you can control the wand and direct the spray confidently.  Start with a small part of your driveway and familiarize yourself with the equipment before you start.
  2. Maintain a proper distance.  The impact of the high pressure water stream increases as you get closer to the home, which can end up stripping off paint or damaging wood.  Maintain a distance of 3 to 4 feet from your home to ensure that you are adequately removing dirt and mildew while keeping the pressure at a moderate level.
  3. Cover plants prior to starting.  Detergents and bleach used to clean your home may damage plants and shrubs.
  4. Rinse, then scrub, then rinse.  Start with a top-to-bottom rinse with detergent.  Wait at least 5-10 minutes for the detergent to set, then scrub any specific areas of dirt or mold by using a soft-bristled brush on an extension handle (which may also be rented from the home center.)  You can also scrub the gutters, soffits and shutters.  Finally, do another top-to-bottom rinse with clean water to remove any remaining dirt and detergent.
  5. Practice ladder safety!  If you have a multi-story home, you may be tempted to use a ladder to wash the upper eaves of your home.  However, before you climb up a ladder, it is likely that the washing nozzle will be able to send water up to the top of your home.  In all cases, be extremely careful when using a ladder, make sure it is secure, and always have another person hold the ladder while you are climbing.

Of course, if you’d prefer to have someone else do the work, there are many professional contractors who can wash your home for you.  Prices will vary by geography and the size of your home, but you can expect to pay at least $100 for a full service cleaning.

This simple Spring cleaning task will keep your home’s curb appeal high, and will reduce the build up of mold and mildew that can damage your home and lead to health concerns.

Need helpful maintenance reminders?

Derek Smith

Derek is the co-founder of HomeSpot HQ, and uses it to manage the seemingly never-ending list of projects and maintenance tasks around his suburban home.