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Is it Worth Doing Your Own Pressure Washing Around the Home?

Its getting close to spring and your house and driveway looks dirty.Your siding and concrete have a bright green tinge to them that didn’t come with the house….

Like many, you’ve wondered whether to go to your local hardware store and buy your own powerwasher. The question is, do home pressure washers actually do the job and can they get the parts of your home, driveway, and other concrete and asphalt clean enough to justify the purchase?

Here’s my unequivocal answer… Maybe yes and maybe no.

I’m not a politician, so why the non-answer? Well, it not only depends on the machine, but it depends on your skills, and whether your investment justifies the cost.

So lets start with the first part of the question:

Will pressure washing machines you can get locally do the job? The kind of machine and its ratings help determine what they can and cannot do.

Types of Machines Available:

1. The cute little electric zappo 1000 for a hundred bucks or less. My advise is, unless you want to spend hours doing a job you could be done with in minutes, forget these little, wash with not much more than hose pressure machines. Yes, they’re electric and don’t burn gasoline, but they’re pretty much useless, even if all you want to do is wash your car.

2. 1200-1500 psi gas powered home machines, in the $200 + range, and designed for small jobs. These typically come equipped with a small assortment of nozzles, a 15 to 20 foot hose with couplers and sometimes, a soap injection setup.

These units usually have enough pressure to wash siding, and clean up a lot of home jobs, but are not really suitable for deep cleaning driveways or concrete pads. With the right chemicals and soaps, you can do a decent job of cleaning off your deck and siding.

3. So-called “commercial pressure washers”. These are not true commercial grade and would not stand up to the daily use required in a commercial powerwash business, but can handle larger jobs at home,

requiring more pressure and more volume. These range from say, 1800 to 3000 psi and are accordingly more expensive.

At the 3,000 psi end, they can be effective on driveways as well as siding and decks.At the low end, these machines are more suitable for exteriors and vehicles.

4. True commercial quality mchines. These pressure washers usually require a gas or diesel motor capable of producing 11 to 16 horsepower so they can drive the big, large volume and high pressure pumps. They are usually 3000 psi and above and where, on a small machine, may produce a gallon a minute of water at their rated pressure, the big ones, can push out 3 to 5 to even 11 gallons a minute! And the price is significantly higher, ranging from $2,000 to more than $10,000.

These have all the power you’d need to tackle any job and will last a long time if cared for.

Now, lets tackle the second part of the question. Does the investment justify the purchase?

Lets ask ourselves a few questions.

1. What am I using a pressure washer for, and how often will I use it?

If you are, like my neighbor, simply wanting a small machine that will reduce his cost of car washes, then option #2 above is a good choice. You may also be able to do small jobs on your home, such as siding and rinsing off your wood or concrete deck.

Warning! Make sure you know what you are doing before attempting cleaning your siding or other building envelopes. Accidentally forcing pressurized water underneath your siding can cause mold and mildew, rotting your home from the inside out and potentially causing health issues.

2. What would it cost to hire a professional to do that job? How long would it take me and what’s my time worth?

If you like the work and have the time, many around the home jobs are do-able. Just be sure you’re going to actually do them. Check your local buy-sell and see how many people have “nearly new” and “never used” pressure washers for sale.

One project I don’t recommend, is deep cleaning your driveway. This is a very time consuming process, requires a good, powerful machine and the ability to not get bored easily! If you go too fast, you will have the privilege of having the neighborhood’s first zebra striped entrance or driveway. Old, dirty and mossy covered concrete and asphalt is something you should leave for the professional pressure washing company.

So, to answer the question, is it worth doing your own pressure washing around the home. It depends on what you want to do, how much time you have, your skill level and how much money you are able to spend versus the cost of professional help.

Small jobs are ideal do it yourself projects, and usually too small to hire out on a cost efficient basis. But big jobs like driveways are probably not a good bet. If you do decide to buy your own machine, get

the best one you can afford. It will allow you to do a better, faster job and expand what you are able to do.

Hire the professionals for the bigger or the combo jobs, like doing your driveway, sidewalks, deck and perhaps de mossing and algae removal from walls and sheltered areas. The pros can get it done faster and better and most can either supply or recommend materials to make cleaning last

longer and eliminate the mold.

Here’s to spring and a great looking house and driveway!