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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Steps for Preventing Water Damage and Mold Damage Due to the Misuse of a Pressure Washer

4/12/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian offers tips to help homeowners avoid water damage and mold damage when using a power washer to clean their homes.

Water damage restoration is necessary when an appliance supply line ruptures, severe weather causes a roof leak, a tub overflows, or a toilet backs up. However, homeowners may not realize that power washing a home could also lead to water damage and extensive mold damage. A property damage disaster can strike at any time and often without warning, including from the improper use of a power washer. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian is sharing the tips listed below on how to avoid water damage and a mold infestation resulting from incorrect pressure washing.

A power washer is an amazingly effective and efficient cleaning machine to get rid of stubborn dirt and grime, including mold and mildew. As the name implies, a power washer uses a powerful stream of water to wash the grime off a surface. The big-box consumer model can exceed 2500 psi, while a commercial model can top 4000 psi. Professionals distinguish between power washing and pressure washing, but both methods utilize a powerful stream of water and sometimes a detergent. Power washing, however, uses hot water.

The Perils of Power Washing

In the hands of an untrained and inexperienced homeowner or handyman, a power washer or pressure washer can cause serious property damage and personal injury. Property damage may include:

  • pitting concrete, mortar, stucco, and asphalt
  • dislodging bricks and mortar
  • defacing concrete yard ornaments, birdbaths, and statuary
  • peeling paint
  • gouging and splintering wooden fences, decks, facia, and soffits
  • denting and dislodging gutters
  • cracking, denting, or loosening vinyl siding
  • pitting and cracking wood siding
  • blasting away the caulking and seals around windows, doors, and vents
  • cracking and breaking windows
  • shredding window screens

Unsafe operation of a power washer or pressure washer can also result in minor to severe physical injuries.

In the hands of an inexperienced homeowner, a power washer can cause severe property damage that can lead to unwanted water damage and mold damage. Here are some specific tips to stay safe, protect the surfaces being cleaned, and avoid water damage and mold damage.

  1. Always use the correct water pressure for the surface being cleaned. If there is concern about surface damage, opt for a lower water pressure setting. High water pressure can create cracks in vinyl siding, allowing water to seep behind the siding during the washing process and later during rainy weather.
  2. Maintain proper nozzle distance and stream width to protect the surface that is being cleaned. Lower pressure and a wider stream can prevent pitting, gouging, splitting, cracking, stripping paint, or tearing up the upper layer of older concrete. Damaging the seal between mortar and brick can allow water to seep behind the brick, causing wood rot and mold issues.
  3. Keep the wand under control at all times. A wayward wand can dislodge mortar, destroy siding, break windows, and rip out caulking and seals around windows and doors. A leak around a window can be difficult to spot until peeling paint, warped sheetrock, warped baseboards, and the distinct smell of mold and mildew become obvious.
  4. Apply environmentally-safe cleaning agents to the dirty surface, and let the chemicals do the hard work of breaking loose and dissolving the dirt, grime, oxidation, stains, mold, and mildew. Follow up with a modest pressure level and a wider stream for more efficient coverage. Repeat the process on stubborn areas. For the inexperienced homeowner, a blend of water and detergent sprayed on the surface to be cleaned and then rinsed with a garden hose with a hose-end sprayer may be the best course of action to prevent structural damage to windows, doors, siding, soffits, gutters, and bricks.
  5. Be aware that using a power washer on replacement windows and doors may render product warranties null and void.
  6. Use proper safety gear when power washing. Eyewear, gloves, a face shield, a long-sleeve shirt or jacket, and ear protection are essential. Bleach and other strong detergents can have adverse effects on the skin and eyes.
  7. Be careful when climbing a ladder, spraying near electrical outlets and panel boxes, or working near overhead power lines.
  8. Hire a licensed, bonded, and insured professional to clean tough jobs. Deep grime, delicate surfaces, and high heights require the right equipment, cleaning products, training, and skill only a professional can provide.
  9. If water damage or mold damage occurs as a result of a power washing job gone wrong, contact a property damage restoration company with the equipment, training, certifications, and expertise to locate the origin of the water intrusion, identify any mold issues, and clean up and restore the damaged areas. Water damage around windows and doors, behind siding, and inside walls will likely involve mold issues.

The professionals at SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian have the latest water removal and drying equipment. Cutting-edge moisture detecting technology is vital when covert, or hidden, water damage is involved. The SERVPRO team can also take care of any mold issues that might have arisen from the water intrusion. Demolition, reconstruction, and full-service damage restoration are what the SERVPRO team does best.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. A crew will arrive on the scene in about an hour. For more information about the company’s water damage cleanup services in Red Oak, TX, and surrounding areas, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian by phone at (972) 935-0827 or by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

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