Mr. Dirt Blaster Pressure Washing Technical Help Department
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Since we get a lot of questions from home and business owners about powerwashing, our technical department compiled a series of How-To steps. If you don’t find answers to what you’re looking for, then use the contact form to get in touch and we’ll try to answer your questions. However, if you’d like to get the job done faster and professionally, our approved locals partners would be pleased to help you out.
Power Washing Tips and Techniques
Pressure washing may seem simple and easy, but there are many factors to consider. From the type of washer you use, to the nozzles, the chemicals and wether you’ll need to use high pressure or low pressure techniques. Each surface and every type of dirt, dust, grime and mold needs to be cleaned using specific chemicals and techniques. Below is a basic overview of the process.
- Before you begin to actually pressure wash, you must first pre-soak most surfaces with your cleaning solution. This cuts the time it takes to wash.
- Hot water almost always works better than cold but do not put hot water into a cold pressure washer as it will damage it.
- Most surfaces require 4 to 6/gpm at 1500 to 3,500/psi, except wood. Wood should be no higher than 500 to 2,000/psi. Water flow rates should be less than 4 gallons per minute.
- Choose the right nozzle width. Pressure washers range from zero to 65-degrees. Most jobs are done between a 25 and 40-degree angle. No matter the nozzle width, be sure to keep it a consistent distance from the surface you are cleaning.
- While you may want to choose a zero degree nozzle for the impressive power and cleaning ability, you will find that you get tracking and streaking called ‘tracers’. It is better to choose a higher degree to prevent this.
- While psi is constant at the tip of the nozzle, the pressure decreases the further the tip is from the surface that you are cleaning. Experienced pressure washing contractors know how to manipulate distances for the fastest, but best cleaning.
- Every surface requires a different psi, cleaning solution, nozzle width and even the correct pH of a rinse. For example, after stripping wood and preparing to paint, you need litmus paper to test the pH. Acids such as oxalic, phosphoric and aluminum brighteners are commonly used to neutralize pH.
- As you can see, pressure/power washing is not quite as simple as just pointing a wand at dirt. Contractors with years of experience can get your cleaning job done almost before you have mixed your chemicals and hooked up all your hoses. With the expense of chemicals and power washing equipment, it pays you to call one of our professional power washing providers.
How To Use a Pressure Washer
Using a pressure washer safely and to achieve the desired results involves a few steps. You need to understand not only how it works and what it can do, but a few things about the various pressure settings, nozzles, spray angles, detergents and chemicals. You may also need to find out about local regulations for water runoff and chemical usage limitations. Consider the following points before you do it yourself.
- Correct usage of a pressure washer involves the correct combination of water flow, pressure, heat and cleaning solutions for the specific surface being cleaned.
- Every surface has its own limitations and requirements or damage can occur. The requirements for a driveway are vastly different than for a wooden deck or fence.
- Water flow (gallons per minute) is critical to cleaning without damaging your surface. Most surfaces require 4 to 6/gpm at 1500 to 3,500/psi. To avoid furring with wood, use a psi of 500 – 1,000.
- Water pressure (measured in pounds per square inch (psi), is the force of the water stream. It is the combination of pressure, heat and detergents that help break down dirt, oil and stains, although excessive pressure can damage your surface.
- The orifice size and spray angle of your nozzle determine gmp and psi. You need to know the flow rate and pressure needed for each type of surface. As the nozzle size increases, the psi decreases and the gmp remains constant. As the nozzle size becomes smaller, the psi increases.
- Spray angles of 25 and 40 degrees are most common, but each surface’s dirt and stains has its own requirements.
- Hot water and detergents improve cleaning results. Do not run hot water through a cold water pressure washer as it will damage it. Detergents work best when using hot water. While detergents are available for cold water machines, the cleaning time increases.
- The EPA and many municipalities have regulations concerning runoff. You may be required to collect and properly dispose of your dirty, detergent-laden water.
- As you can see, there is a lot to consider when pressure/power washing. For a hassle-free, affordable and quick solution to your dirty surfaces, give our pressure washing service providers a call today.
How To Find The Right Chemicals For A Pressure Washing Job
Selecting the right chemicals for the job is very important. Each surface type to be cleaned with either high pressure or low pressure requires the appropriate chemical. Also, you need to be careful weather the cleaning agent is corrosive or not, and whether it’s environmentally friendly.
- No two pressure washing jobs are the same! Do not assume that the chemical you used last week is the right one for today’s surface, dirt and stains. Professional cleaners have an arsenal of detergents and know which one will work best for the situation.
- Soaps are formulated to break the surface tension that holds a stain to a surface, allowing the pressure of the water to rinse it all away. Pink Thunder Truck Wash Soap and R-111 Classic Brown can be applied with high or low pressure, brushed on and then rinsed for clean trucks.
- Corrosive cleaners dissolve grease and grime. V-502 Kitchen Exhaust Grease Fighter and Clearly Clean X-Treme Concrete Cleaner should not be run through a pressure washer as they can damage the machine. Use a pump sprayer or X-Jet to apply these chemicals, then rinse with hot water.
- Sodium Hypochlorite is used on live algae, mold and mildew. It kills it and slows its regrowth. This can also be applied to concrete to bleach and brighten it.
- Finding the right chemicals and soaps can be difficult. Do not make your own blends as it can be unsafe, and even poisonous. Exothermic reactions happen when you mix water and strong acids.
- All of the blends that you use should have a safety data sheet with information about health risks, storage, spill procedures, hazards, fire, explosive and reactivity data and first aid information.
- If you want a much safer and faster way to clean the dirt and stains on your property, call our pressure washing experts. Pressure washing may look simple, but when you add in a chemical mix, it can be dangerous to you, and extremely damaging to your property.
How To Clean & Seal A Deck
Cleaning and sealing a wood deck requires special care. Before you begin, the surface must be clean of loose debris. You should also make any required repairs befoe you begin. Set up protection against over-spray, select the right cleaner, set the right pressure and pick the right nozzle. The steps are below.
- Clear deck of all items and blow or sweep all debris away. Turn off power to area and cover all receptacles, lighting fixtures, telephone jacks etc.
- Repair structural damage by hammering in loose nails, replacing nails, tightening screws, bolts and spindles and replacing old wood.
- Cover plants and shrubs around the deck with 2 -4 mil clear plastic to protect from chemical over-spray.
- Know your chemical and your type of wood. Bleach can destroy wood and Sodium Hydroxide needs neutralizing agents to prevent wood damage. TSP, oxalic acids, citric acid, phosphoric acid and disodium Peroxydicarbonate all have restrictions on which type of wood and whether they need a neutralizer.
- Adjust pressure from 300 to 3,000 psi at 3 to 6 gpm. Too much pressure will cause the wood to furr. Use the underside of the deck to test pressure and start off with the lowest pressure possible. Wet the deck so that the chemicals will stay on the surface and not soak into the wood. Soak 10-20 minutes and do not let it dry.
- Pressure wash in the direction of the wood grain. Use enough pressure to remove old wood, but not enough to score solid wood.
- If furring occurs, you will need to sand with steel wool or fine sandpaper. Sometimes heavier sanding is needed. Use a 10,000 rpm orbitals sander with 40 grit paper. Finish with 80 to 100 grit paper. You cannot sand wet wood and do not and rough sawed lumber.
- Let deck dry for 24-48 hours and apply the proper sealers with an airless sprayer, paint brush and roller. Shield the house and landscaping from the over-spray. Seal railings and spindles first and be sure to immediately clean up any drips as it will show on the deck. Spray deck and let area dry for 3-4 hours.
- This job is extremely detailed, time-consuming, and difficult to prevent damage and drips. If you want a professional-looking job, call in a professional! Give our pressure washing service providers a call for a no-obligation quote.
Pressure Washing In Cold Weather
- If you have to absolutely pressure wash in cold weather, be sure to not let your pressure washer freeze! Empty as much water out of the machine before storage as possible, and keep your machine in a heated area.
- While running your machine in cold weather, keep the water supply hoses running with hot water. If your hoses are on cold ground, they will freeze in a few minutes in sub-zero temperatures.
- Chemicals work more slowly in cold weather. Plan on using more chemicals and extra cleaning time.
- Do not let your chemicals freeze. Store them in a dry, warm place or they will separate and be degraded.
- Protect yourself as water on your clothing or footwear can also freeze. Use rain suits, overshoes, hard hats with rain troughs and face shields and glasses. Thermal underwear, long gloves with jersey inserts and extra, dry gloves are a necessity. Use boot chains if needed to keep from slipping.
- Be careful where you point your spray as door locks, brake drums, door jams and steps will freeze over with ice.
- Try to wash between 10:00 and 3:00 as the sun can help with its heat.
- If you need to thaw your equipment, hair dryers and heat guns are much safer than a blow torch!
- First, try not to pressure wash in cold weather but if you need to, call in a professional who is experienced, who is prepared with the right equipment, and who will be safe in freezing and icy conditions.
Pressure Washing Basics
Before you decide to do your own pressure washing, there are a few things to consider. You’ll need to decide between using an electric or a gas unit, as well as it’s size and power. Nozzle choice is also important since different surface types require different nozzles and water pressure settings. Of course, safety equipment and over-spray protection will also be required.
- Gas or Electric? Gas powered gives you higher psi (pounds of pressure per square inch) and gpm (gallons of water per minute) than an electric washer. Plus, an electric washer needs to be plugged in, just when you want to turn electricity off for safety reasons.
- What size? Light duty is for small patios. Medium duty is for single story siding, fencing, small driveways and other small jobs. Heavy duty is for larger driveways and reaching the second story of your home. Extra heavy duty is a professional grade for extensive work.
- Which nozzle? Red is zero angle: the narrowest angle. This tip can cause extreme damage and physically hurt you. Yellow tip is a 15 degree angle which is good for concrete. Green tip is a 25 degree angle that is perfect for washing your car, or cleaning mildew off your deck or patio furniture.
- White tip is a 40 degree spray is great for siding or windows. Black produces a 65 degree angle and is the gentlest. It is so gentle it will not clean, but instead is used for wetting surfaces.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection and wear non-slip, waterproof footwear.
- Keep any tip roughly 18 inches away from all surfaces to prevent damage.
- Any surface that was painted before 1978 needs professional cleaning. Old paint can flake off and lead-based paint chips or dust are poisonous.
- Pressure washing equipment is expensive and needs maintenance. Chemicals that are used to aid in pressure washing are expensive and caustic. While pressure washing sounds easy, the reason there are professionals is because there is more to this work than meets the eye.
- For professional results that last longer, call one of our pressure washing service providers.
Pressure Washing A Roof
Power Washing a roof does require special knowledge, care and safety equipment. Not only are roofs made of different materials – from ashphalt to steel, slate, tile and wood to man-made fibers. Each roof type attracts different types of mold, dirt or mildew and needs very different cleaning techniques and chemicals. Also, a roof can be a dangerous place to be without proper safety equipment.
- A roof with moss, mildew, mold or lichen must be cleaned to maintain the roof.
- Wet algae is very slippery and some roofs, like metal are as slippery as ice when wet. Place your ladder on one corner, then, when you get off the ladder onto the roof, walk to the opposite corner to start, and work your way back to the ladder.
- Apply a roof detergent to loosen the surface mold, algae and lichen. This keeps the wand from having to make as many passes and removing shingle granules.
- Too much water pressure will remove granules and even remove shingles or tiles.
- Work in sections. Apply detergent to one area and then spray it clean. Move to another area and do the same. This will keep you from walking on soapy, wet areas which would be slippery.
- Start with medium pressure (green tip) and always aim down the roof as otherwise, water can get under the shingles, tearing shingles off and allowing water to get into your home.
- Do only a few shingles or tiles at a time and consistently inspect for damage. Only clean once a year as cleaning more than that can degrade your roof.
- Climbing ladders, walking on slippery roofs and dealing with soaps and chemicals is risky business. It is much safer to call in a professional who can do the job not only more thoroughly without damage, but also much faster. Call one of our pressure washing service providers for a free quote.