Puerto rico government

Ask the builder: pressure washers can cause irreparable damage

Do you own a high pressure washer? I have had no less than five in my life. I have to say these are amazing machines when used correctly and on surfaces that won’t be damaged by the powerful blast coming out of the nozzle at the end of the cleaning wand.

My university degree is in geology. A month after my 20th birthday, I found myself walking down the Kaibab Trail to the mouth of the Grand Canyon on my first geology field trip in the West. It took about four or five hours to walk down to the Colorado River.

I’m not sure if the professor told us at the time, but the National Park Service says the Colorado River swallowed up all of this missing rock, transporting it to the ocean in just 6 million years. He did so with just 14.2 pounds of normal atmospheric pressure pushing through the water flowing over the rock, not 2,400 pounds as many pressure washers produce.

In other words, the water that normally flows over dense hard rock will erode it. Think about the destructive force created when you plug in your pressure washer or pull the starter cord on its gasoline engine. I witnessed a heartbreaking example of this destructive force on a trip to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, in October 2019. Months before, anti-government protesters had spray painted slogans on many buildings.

The governor sent workers to remove the paint and they decided to use a pressure washer. One of the buildings was constructed from hard oolitic limestone. The machine operator removed the paint, but he also eroded the stone permanently engraved on the facade of the building which had been spray painted. It was difficult to digest as one would have thought in a few minutes that the operator could see that he was damaging the stone itself.

Think about the things around your home that are much softer than hard limestone – like the things many buildings are made of in Washington, DC, including the Washington Monument! This oolitic limestone was chosen for a reason: because it is so durable and beautiful.

In other words, if you don’t know how to use a pressure washer and point that cleaning wand at your wood deck, railing, or steps, in seconds you’ll turn smooth treated lumber into a fishing dock. weathered where the soft Spring wood between the darker bands of summer wood has been worn away.

Do you use your pressure washer to clean your uni-stone driveway, sidewalk or patio? I’m talking about interlocking concrete bricks to which dry pigments are added. These pavers can be available in an assortment of colors and earthy tones.

This color that you see on the surface is just an ultra-thin layer of cement paste that contains the dry pigments. It’s a snap for your pressure washer to detonate this thin film of color, exposing the actual color of the small stones used to make concrete. Place the spray lance too close to the brick and you will remove some of the fine sand used to make the brick.

I see professionals using pressure washers inappropriately all the time. Many painters use them to wash the exterior of a house before applying a new coat of paint. Too often I see the operator point the cleaning wand upwards to clean objects above their head or shoulders. This is a huge mistake.

We builders build houses with the rain falling in mind. Rain does fall, and in rare cases, it can strike a structure sideways during a powerful storm, hurricane, or hurricane. But Mother Nature rarely has rain that rises to the sky.

Lap constructions, trim, flashing and so on so that falling water does not get behind the exterior skin of your home. An operator aiming for a pressure washer can lead water behind the exterior skin of your home in no time. Never point the nozzle of a pressure washer at the outside of your home.

Is your house covered with vinyl siding? Have you ever paid attention to how the pieces of siding overlap at a joint along a long wall? Never aim a pressure washer wand so that the water will lift the overlapping coating and go behind the vinyl. The same goes for places where the vinyl trim is against windows and doors. There is a seam there, and the pressure washer can drive a lot of water behind the coating that otherwise shouldn’t go.

First, you should read the front cover to cover any manual that came with your pressure washer. The manufacturer may have all kinds of warnings on how to use the machine with different materials.

At the very least, use your own critical thinking skills. To do experiments. Instead of pointing the pressure wand at a 90 degree angle to the surface you are cleaning, try 45 degrees or even 10 degrees.

If you are using a high pressure water jet to remove peeling paint, it is best to hold the wand parallel to the painted surface. The water jet will sink between the paint and the surface and wash it off, usually causing little damage to the coating or trim.

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