I'm not really sure why guys like to pressure wash everything! Maybe it is that feeling of power having 10X's the force of a hurricane in your hands, I just don't understand it. Anyway, I say all of this to issue a warning to any and all homeowners that own a power washer or are thinking of having their home power washed! DON'T DO IT!
Just think about the force of the water that is shooting out of that nozzle. Even at it's lowest settings it will take the skin off your foot or any other body part you stick in front of it. So just imagine shooting that water at your home and then imagine all of little nooks and crannies that water is going to find. You are shooting water into areas you don't want it to go!
Some claddings (siding material on the exterior walls of your home) can take the force of a pressure washer a little better than others. Brick holds up fairly well, but it can still be etched and damaged. Vinyl siding can be stripped off the side of a home and if you have Hardy Plank or any other cementious siding , it can be split and delaminated. Forget wood, unless you want to strip the paint right off the planks! As for Stucco or EIFS (artificial stucco), don't even think about power spraying a wall clad in stucco or EIFS. You will strip off the finish coat in seconds!
The following photos are of an EIFS home that I inspected. The lamina or finish coat was all but removed from this home. The underlying mesh was visible on every single wall and window banding. The good news was that all moisture levels were low at all windows and penetrations. The $10,000 worth of restoration work that they previous owner did five years ago was working. The bad news was that the $200 pressure wash job removed the lamina coat and now the current owner will need to have it reapplied to the tune of around $15,000 to $20,000
If you want to clean your home, you can purchase several different house washing products. Most come in a plastic bottle that you attach to your garden hose. It sprays a chemical (similar to household bleach) with other surfactants in it to help remove the dirt and grime. You let them sit for a few minutes and then spray it down with clean water from that garden hose. NO POWER WASHERS!!
So what is one to do with that fancy power washer you now have? How about cleaning the driveway! But, be careful if you have exposed aggregate! Again too strong of a stream and you will strip those little stones right off… Another option would be to sell that spraying beast on Craig's list or have a garage sale!
Scott Patterson specializes in Stucco, EIFS and AMSV (Faux stone) inspections through out Tennessee and the South. Call 615-302-1113 if you have a question or need to setup an appointment.
Scott Patterson has been a professional home inspector since 1995 and works out of the Greater Nashville TN area. You can contact him at his office 615-302-1113 or on his cell at 615-870-4162 via text or voice.