Risks when washing a vinyl siding home

Discussion in 'Power Washing' started by mikegbuff, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. mikegbuff

    mikegbuff LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Everyone, what are the real risks of causing future mold/mildew issues when washing a vinyl sided home? I try my best to be careful where the pieces of vinyl are fitted together and also try to avoid spraying up and under the vinyl where pieces hook together. Also, it does seem to be hard not to hit the vented vinyl soffit as I'm cleaning the very top of the vinyl on walls and the gutters.
    I'm using about 2900 PSI and I do not spray directly on top of the vinyl. I try to be a few feet away so I'm not getting a point blank steam on it and the pressure isn't so great.
    Please give any input as to my methods or equipment. Just want to be sure I'm doing it right. I have read all about the risks and some people even say to only wash vinyl siding homes with a brush, cleaner, and regular garden hose. That's a lot of work when you are working on 2500 sq ft homes!!! I try to take all precautions possible. Does anyone have any experience viewing any mold/mildew damage that has been causing by improper pressure washing?
  2. Don M.

    Don M. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Hi Mike, yes 2900 psi is too great. A lot of guys dont realize the higher gallons per minute a machine is, the faster you can clean. Many professional pressure washing companies use anywhere from 6 gpm on up to 10 gpm and the pressure of a garden hose to wash a home succesfully. And many of us if we were doing a 2500 sq ft house would take probably in the hour and a half mark to wash the entire house without ever taking out a brush.

    I have never seen mold damage myself. We always stand at least 10-15ft away when washing.

    How many gpm is your machine?
  3. mikegbuff

    mikegbuff LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Don M. - Thanks for the reply. My machine is 2.8 GPM. I bought one of the higher-end models at Sears to do stuff around the house for myself with the intention of that being all it is used for. Then I started getting asked by others (mostly favors for family/friends) to do stuff for them and it has snowballed since. I do realize I would need to get a commercial one if I were going to do this more often. I don't want to buy another one until I'm sure I want to do pressure washing though. I have read through a lot of these forums and found them very informative. As info, I'm not trying to become a low-baller or take anyone's business. I'm trying to learn about the business and become knowledgeable before I decide if I would want to offer this as a professional service.
    Question for your or others who may want to help.
    I did not realize the GPM made that much difference. How does this work, can you explain? Since I have not seen a higher GPM machine in action, I'm confused. Obviously, more water flow puts more water on the surface you are cleaning, but I'm not sure how you can clean better with more water and less pressure? I'm not questioning you, just trying to understand the concept. It takes me four hours to do my 2300 sq ft house, so your process works much better than mine!
    You must be using some better cleaners than me to be successful with less pressure. If you do not mind giving your secret, can you tell me what cleaners you use for vinyl siding and where you can get them? I have been using the generic vinyl siding cleaner from Lowes or Home Depot. I do water down plants/grass before, during, and after washing to avoid any damage there. I have seen chemical names on some of the forum posts, but I'm wandering if these can be gotten at Lowes or Home Depot or where.
    I am just getting started and doing small jobs part-time until I get more experience and knowledge. So that is why I'm trying to be cautious and get the opinions from the experts here.
  4. Don M.

    Don M. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Mike, just get a jug of 12% sodium hypochlorite, put your tube in there, and use your black soap tip. You might want to put a couple shots of a household dishwashing soap in there.

    FCPWLLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Higher flow cleans better because the water that runs across the surface, the more dirt it takes with it. Vinyl Siding should not need more than 100 psi to clean if using the right detergents.

    That machine you use will be useless for the most part in trying to offer professional service. The flow is too low to allow you to shoot heights keeping you off ladders and making you faster and profitable. I do most homes in @ one hour. No ladders for most homes.

    Here's a place to start looking at better Pressure Washers and detergents...


    Here is a example of low pressure vinyl washing...

  6. mikegbuff

    mikegbuff LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Don M. and FCPWLLC - thanks a lot for the help...makes sense to me. That is something I would have never known from talking to people in local stores who sell pressure washers and detergents. I really appreciate it.
  7. doublelung

    doublelung LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    But what is a sufficient GPM for a homeowner.... 3, 4, maybe 8? I have a 2000 sq. ft. vinyl home with a white metal roof that needs cleaning all the time. It is about 40 ft from the ground to the peak of my house. What would be a good setup to get the proper chemical to the top and to get enough flow to clean it good? My roof is very steep and my big arse is not getting on it! The last guy who came out wanted a grand to clean my roof! I have to figure someting out better than hiring it out.
  8. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,224

    You don't want anything less than 4.0 gal/min.
  9. yard_smart

    yard_smart LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 590


    FCPWLLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    I would think that staying on the safe ground would be worth paying a PRO $1k to do it while you go play some golf.

    Anyhow, you would be looking at a chem pump versus a pressure washer for the vinyl and metel roof. If you are simply getting mold/algae, then you just need to get bleach on the surface.

    Here ya go ... http://www.pressuretek.com/de58secorocl.html

    this will spray a good bleach mix on those surfaces and can then just be rinsed with a garden hose. NO PRESSURE on Vinyl or roofs.

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