Pressure Washing Problems
Pressure washers are a great tool for removing graffiti, dirt, and other stuck-on debris from surfaces, but there are some items that can get damaged by the powerful stream of water. While there are obvious items to avoid pressure washing, like people, animals, and plants, many other surfaces and objects around the home also are vulnerable to damage.
The pressure of the water can be the reason behind avoiding certain objects, but some devices can be ruined by any water seeping into cracks. It can wreak havoc with sensitive electronic and mechanical systems. So, before pressure washing the car or the house, check this list of 9 things you should never clean with a pressure washer.
Giving the windows a quick wash with the pressure washer may seem like a great idea, especially when you consider how difficult it can be to reach windows on the second floor, but the fragile panes of glass can’t hold up to the high-pressure spray produced by the pressure washer. The stream of water is more likely to blow out the glass than clean the window, leaving you with at least one window to replace and a big mess of water and glass to clean up inside.
Electric meters typically have a solid metal casing and transparent glass or plastic cover over the face of the meter. While the casing keeps the meter safe from rain, sleet, and snow, it can be vulnerable to the high-pressure stream produced by a pressure washer. The power produced by the pressure washer can force water through the narrow cracks and crevices, causing damage to the incoming electrical system and resulting in costly repairs.
Avoid turning the pressure washer on a roof with asphalt shingles to prevent damaging the roof and potentially causing leaks. The high water pressure actually removes the granules from the asphalt shingles and it can break or completely remove shingles if the roof is older. Leaks in the roof cause problems throughout the house, including rot, structural damage, and mold, which can be introduced into the heating and cooling system, affecting the health of anyone living in the home.
Cleaning out the gutters is not fun for most people, and it may be tempting to use the power of a pressure washer to remove built-up dirt, grime, and clumps or leaves. However, this isn’t a good idea. A pressure washer is too powerful and could pull the gutter off the house or cause damage to the downspout. It’s better to clean the debris out of the gutters by hand, then use a garden hose to rinse the inside of the gutter.
Old Mortar or Brick
Pressure washers are ideal for cleaning concrete patios and paving stones. They also can be used at a lower pressure setting on new bricks. When the brick and mortar on the outside of the home is chipped and crumbling, then a pressure washer will only cause problems. The powerful stream of water can pull mortar out of the wall and cut into old brick, resulting in significant structural damage and exposing the interior of a home to outdoor weather conditions.
Some pressure washers are marketed as suitable for vehicles, and this can be true if the washer is set to a low-pressure setting. However, it’s advised to completely avoid using a pressure washer on a vehicle because slight changes in distance from the vehicle or the angle of the spray can cause lasting damage, like dents and chips in the paint that leave the vehicle vulnerable to rusting. The power of the spray also can force water into the cracks and crevices on the vehicle’s engine, leading to expensive repairs.
Stained or Painted Surfaces
The powerful stream of water produced by a pressure washer is great for stripping paint from metal siding or stain from a wood deck. In fact, it’s advised to pressure wash a deck before applying a new coat of stain to properly prepare the surface. If you don’t want to chip, peel, or otherwise damage the stain or paint, then avoid using a pressure washer on stained or painted surfaces.
Related: How to Clean a Deck
Outdoor light fixtures, like lamppost lights and porch lights, are made to resist rain, sleet, snow, ice, and high winds, but they aren’t designed to deal with the powerful horizontal stream of water that comes out of a pressure washer. The high-pressure flow of water can break any glass panes or bulbs and may completely remove the light fixture from its mount. If the force doesn’t destroy the fixture, the water may still seep in through the cracks and damage the internal electrical components.
The metal box that houses an air conditioner helps to protect delicate metal fins that filter the air as it enters the air conditioning unit. While a pressure washer would quickly remove dirt and debris from the outside of the air conditioner, it also can bend or crush the fins, restricting airflow into the unit. Instead, use a garden hose or vacuum and a soft brush to gently clean between the fins and save the pressure washer for the driveway.
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