Cleaning and Maintenance

13 Things and Areas You Should Never Pressure Wash

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Although pressure washing is an excellent way to clean things, it still has some downsides. The powerful punch of pressure washing is efficient at removing stubborn gunk but can be damaging to some things or areas you want to clean. There are lots of items that are sturdy enough to withstand pressure washing but this article will be focused on those things that should never be cleaned using this method. The high-pressure water jet might not be safe to use on the following things and areas.

1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingle Roof

Cleaning the roof is a fairly difficult task using conventional methods. It’s tempting to cut some corners and blast a strong stream of water on it with the help of a pressure washer. However, this is not a good idea if you have asphalt shingles which are quite commonly used as roofing materials. The shingles can be damaged by pressure washing, especially if they’re old. You might cause serious problems to the structural integrity of the entire roof if the water jet breaks the asphalt shingles and leaks inside the home.

2. Wood Siding

Wood Siding

Many pressure-washing enthusiasts like the idea of cleaning the wood siding using the intense water jet. However, in most cases, this should not be done because the pressure washer can do some serious damage to various elements underneath the siding. The water stream can penetrate the wood surface and reach the electrical wiring or insulation causing all sorts of problems. Aluminum or vinyl siding can also be susceptible to this kind of damage from pressure washing.

3. Lead Paint

Peeling Lead Paint

Pressure washers should never be used on lead paint. There’s a serious risk of sending toxic particles into the surrounding area due to the strong power of the water jet. Lead paint requires a delicate removal process to contain the toxic chemical and not blast it into the air. Even if you use a low-pressure washing setting, the water stream can still easily damage the paint or strip away residues.

4. Cars

Man Pressure Washing His Car

There’s some debate in the automotive world when it comes to the safety of using pressure washing tools on cars. Most experts agree that it’s not worth the risk and that you should avoid this method to clean your vehicle. The main worry is that any excessive force caused by the intense water pressure will create dents and chips in the paint finish. There’s also the considerable risk of making a mistake during the process and accidentally sending the powerful jet of water through the car’s crevices potentially damaging sensitive internal components like the engine.

5. Teak Furniture

Teak Patio Furniture

Although many types of wood surfaces can be safely pressure washed, it looks like teak wood could be an exception. If you have premium furniture pieces made from teak, it’s best to skip the pressure washer. The reason why pressure washing for this type of wood isn’t recommended is simply the delicate structure of the material. Teak fibers might get permanently damaged even if you’re being extra careful about using a low-power setting. If you want to avoid any risk of ruining your teak furniture, don’t pressure wash it.

6. Electric Panels

Electric Panels

Electric panels are designed with protective coverings to handle harsh weather conditions outdoors. That being said, these coverings are not heavy-duty enough to handle the powerful water jet coming from a pressure washing tool. No matter how careful you are, there’s always a risk of water getting inside the electric panel and causing serious damage that will incur large repair costs.

7. Old Brick Wall

Old Brick Wall

Brick walls are a bit risky to clean with the help of a pressure washer. When the brick wall is really old, there’s a notable risk of causing issues to the surface, especially towards the mortar holding the bricks together. The risk of damage is increased if the brick wall is already crumbling or chipped in some areas. The use of a pressure washer can put additional stress on the surface resulting in significant structural damage overall. In conclusion, try to avoid cleaning an old brick wall with a pressure washer.

8. Stained Wood Areas

Stained Wood Deck

As opposed to indoor wood elements, outdoor ones require proper staining to withstand weather conditions and pests. This protective layer can be removed during pressure washing your porch, patio deck, or outdoor furniture made from wood. If you wish to maintain the health of your stained wood surfaces for as long as possible, make sure you avoid using the pressure washer on them.

9. Windows

Elegant House With Multiple Windows

Cleaning the windows can be considered quite a hassle. It looks like an easy job for a pressure washer but using the powerful water jet on the windows could be a very bad idea. You can actually break the glass when applying sufficiently strong water pressure which translates to a costly replacement. Most windows are simply not built to handle the intensity of the water stream created by a pressure washer.

10. Gutters

Gutter Filled With Dead Leaves

Cleaning the gutters is never a fun job. It’s understandable that you might get tempted to speed things up with the help of a pressure washer. However, like many other things, gutters are not built to withstand the extreme power of this kind of tool. In the best-case scenario, you will cause some minor damage to the downspout, but in the worst case, you might actually separate the gutter from the house due to the strong water stream.

11. Painted Areas

Old Paint on Metal Roof

Unless you actually plan to remove old paint from a surface, it’s not advised to use a pressure washer on any item or area that’s been painted. Even if you’re being extra careful or using low-pressure settings, it’s safe to say that you can easily cause peeling or chipping damage to the paint. Similar to how sealing stains can be accidentally removed from wooden patio furniture, you can eliminate the paint finish of various surfaces when applying the force of a pressure washer.

12. Garden Lights

Garden Lights

Outdoor lighting fixtures tend to get very dirty after some time. Don’t be so quick to take out the pressure washer though. Garden lights are typically sensitive objects that are easy to damage by the power of a high-pressure water jet. This might seem surprising considering how many lighting fixtures built for the outdoors are designed to handle tough weather conditions. Even if you don’t break the light through pressure washing, there’s still a considerable risk of water infiltration and causing damage from inside.

13. Air Conditioning Units

AC Units Installed on House Siding

Air conditioners are also way too delicate to handle the high-pressure water stream coming from standard pressure washers. Despite how convenient it seems to clean the metal fins of the air conditioner, it’s recommended to steer clear of pressure washers. Those fins can also be bent out of shape resulting in limited airflow. This has a negative impact on the functionality of the air conditioning unit requiring some potentially expensive repairs.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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