Pressure washing is an effective way to clean stubborn dirt and grime from the surfaces of your property. But, when done incorrectly, pressure washing in winter can present some unsavory consequences.
Pressure Washing in Winter: Is It Possible?
For a lot of people, the winter season is the only time of the year when they can get some cleaning done. It is hard to notice anything wrong with your property during other parts of the year. But, when holiday decorations start going up, you begin to observe the dirt and grime that has built up on the various surfaces of your house over time.
One of the most efficient methods of cleaning is pressure washing. If you live in an area that experiences warmer winters, you have no trouble pressure washing your home even in the dead of the cold season. But, if you live in an area that often sees freezing temperatures, you might wonder if pressure washing is even an option.
Can you pressure wash in the winter? Yes, but it comes with strings attached. Like most cleaning methods, pressure washing relies on water to clean surfaces, though has the added bonus of pressure that can blast away even the most stubborn of filth. That means it comes with the risk of covering surfaces with ice once the water reaches its freezing point.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Pressure Washing
Pressure washing during the wintertime poses a few risks. Fortunately, you can significantly minimize those risks by remembering the do’s and don’ts of pressure washing in winter.
Do: Use Hot Water
The main risk with pressure washing in winter is freezing pipes and surfaces. One way to combat this is to use hotter water than you would normally use for pressure washing. A temperature between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal so that the evaporation rate will minimize the risk of icing.
Don’t: Forget to Protect Yourself
An often neglected part of pressure washing during the wintertime is protecting yourself from possible harm or injury. Hypothermia can be a real problem, especially in areas with sub-freezing temperatures. To prevent hypothermia, make sure to layer up and cover yourself thoroughly. It is also a good idea to wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and hates.
For shoes, you can wear rubber booths or spiked footwear. In doing so, you can avoid slipping on wet or icy surfaces when pressure washing outside. It is recommended to wear the right footwear even if you have de-iced your outdoor area prior to pressure washing.
Do: Pressure Wash Out in the Sun
Another way you can prevent freezing pipes and surfaces is to pressure wash out in the sun. Do your best to avoid the shade. Make sure to stay under the bright sunlight when pressure washing your house or vehicle so that ice won’t form. It is even better to do this in the afternoon when the weather is likely at its hottest. This also helps speed up the drying process, further preventing ice from crystallizing.
Don’t: Forget to Check Your Fittings
A big reason why winter maintenance requires you to turn off outdoor water sources is that they can freeze during this time of the year. Because pressure washing uses water to clean, it is important to ensure you have access to fittings located indoors.
When pressure washing in winter — or any time of the year, for that matter — the runoff water has to go somewhere. If that water makes its way to your driveway or sidewalk, it could quickly turn into ice. To ensure everyone’s safety, it is best to de-ice your surfaces before you start pressure washing. You can do this by applying salt, sand, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride to the surface area.
Don’t: Forget to Account for Chemical Imbalances
Chemicals don’t tend to work as well in the winter as they do during other times of the year. Knowing how cold weather affects chemicals, you should account for this ahead of time. You might need to use more chemicals than you normally would.
Additionally, you must also protect your cleaning chemicals from cold temperatures. When using a liquid chemical, remember that they can separate if you allow them to freeze. To avoid this, make sure to store them in a warm and dry part of the house.
Do: Protect Your Pressure Washing Machine
To protect your pressure washer in winter, see to it that you keep it in a warm and dry location. When water freezes in the machine’s pump, it will cause it to expand and even burst. But, storing your pressure washer in an area that is both warm and dry can protect its fittings and lines, allowing you to save both money and trouble.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Power Wash a House?
Ideally, you would pressure wash your house between March and November. But, if you must do it during the wintertime, make sure to avoid temperatures below 40 degrees. If the temperature is too cold, it could damage your pressure washer, put you at risk, and freeze the surfaces you wash. Thus, during colder months, it is best to wait until the afternoon to pressure wash your house.
Not all areas experience freezing temperatures, though. If you live in a warmer part of the country, it is likely you can pressure wash your house without worry even during the winter season.
The winter season does not treat all places equally. While some areas get a lot of ice and snow, others get a lot of rain instead. In this case, it would depend on the amount of rain and wind. It is generally safe to pressure wash your house if there is only a light drizzle outside. But, it is best to save pressure washing for another day if there is a thunderstorm or if the wind is too strong.
Let the Pros Handle the Job
Pressure washing in winter can be a productive way to spend your holidays off. But, it is not always recommended. Before you pressure wash your house this winter season, make sure to equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge.
Alternatively, you can also hire a professional company to pressure wash your property this wintertime. Call Washh today at 704.321.8000 or contact us online to get a free estimate.
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