If you’re planning to sell your home, go take a walk out your front door. How does the exterior of your house look? Does it have a visible layer of dirt from recent storms? Is your driveway spotted with oil and clogged with leaves? Hiring a pressure washer will make everything sparkle before potential home buyers come to check out your digs.
“Power washing” is a bit of a misnomer. “We do use high pressure to get to the top of buildings but in fact the actual pressure used on a building for washing is no more than a normal hose would deliver,” explains Mark of RVA Landscapes. “It uses chemicals to do most of the work so that we can ensure no damage to the siding.” Professional companies use this technique in conjunction with specially formulated soaps that help kill things like mold, mildew, and algae. “The soap also helps lift dirt and debris off of the surface without the use of high pressure,” says Andrew from Absolute Pro Wash.
You can get relatively cheap equipment yourself, but it’s still best to leave it to the pros. “Pressure washers used improperly can injure someone quite easily,” Andrew explains. “In our ten plus years in business, we’ve heard of (and seen) too many accidents take place due to an individual who did not possess the knowledge and skill to properly use a machine.”
Beyond personal safety issues, improper washing can result in etched concrete, scarred wood, and broken windows. “It takes years of experience to get the chemicals right and therefore it should be left to the professionals,” Mark says. “I’ve been called many times because someone has tried to do it themselves and have either damaged the paint or couldn’t figure out how to get to the top of the house with that darn washer in tow!”
What To Know When Choosing a Pro
“Trust your gut,” says Kenny from Full Force Pressure. “If you don’t think you will work well with a pro, something seems off-kilter intuitively or you otherwise feel apprehensive, you might want to consider your options.”
Find out how long the pro has been in business and if they’re insured. “This weeds out the good from the bad,” says Mark. “It may seem like you’re getting a better deal until that fly-by-night company ruins your siding or your paint and leaves.”
Ask what chemicals they’ll be using. “If they say bleach, they’re inexperienced and you should stay away,” says Mark.
“You want a company who uses the safest methods to clean your home,” says Andrew. “Low pressure or ‘soft wash’, along with specifically formulated cleaning solutions should be mentioned at some point in their answer.” How many years experience does your company have regarding my specific cleaning need? “Don’t accept answers such as ‘I’ve never done that before’ or ‘I can give it a try’,” says Andrew. How long will the service take to perform? “A typical wash for a 2000 square foot home should take on average one to two hours to clean,” Andrew explains. “Not all homes are the same so there is some deviation to this. But if their answer is six hours or two days, thank them for their time and call a real professional.” Ask if they guarantee their work.
“Research their reputation online via platforms like Google, Facebook, and Thumbtack,” says Kenny. “Word of mouth is another reliable metric for measuring reliability in a pro.”
Some states or cities require special environmental licensing or permits as well as city and state occupational licenses. For most states, it’s not a taxable service, but you may want to check when asking about price.
“Customers should tip if they feel the service merited it (maybe a couple of extras were thrown in at no charge), and they feel comfortable doing so,” says Kenny. “I never expect a tip as to never risk making a customer feel obligated,” he continues. “I have received tips covering my lunch all the way to fifty percent of the cost of the whole job. All were appreciated.” Mark says, “Our teams always enjoy tips, although not for the reason you may think. Because it’s not common, when our guys do get tips, they know they did a great job.”