Is it safe to use a power washer on a brick house? The simple answer: yes. But you definitely want to proceed with caution. Brick siding provides a classic look that lasts for a long time. The porous nature of brick, however, means that it attracts a lot of grime, mold, algae, and more. Washing it can provide continued good looks, but you have to be careful. In this guide, CLAD Siding will discuss how to clean your brick home’s exterior safely & successfully via power washing. Let’s get into it!
The Dangers of Power Washing
A power washer makes easy work of cleaning the exterior of your home. It can provide the pressure and reach you need to get the job done more quickly and efficiently. And it definitely beats doing it by hand. However, when it comes to brick siding, you should exercise care.
If not properly executed, power washing can cause more headaches than solutions. A power washer can loosen mortar, leading to deterioration. The same goes for the actual bricks. This is especially true for older and weathered exteriors. If you have any of these issues, you’ll want to take care of them as soon as possible prior to cleaning your brick siding.
Power washing can also lead to two other major issues: water seepage and removal of the natural waterproofing. If water is able to make its way to the back of the wall, this can result in some major problems. At the top of the list is mold. Power washing, when set too high, can also strip away brick’s natural water resistance, causing further degradation.
How to Power Wash Brick
Okay, so now we know that power washing a brick house can be a little tricky. But if you know the techniques on how to use this handy tool properly, it can make your project go by a lot more swiftly without any hiccups. Let’s take a look at how you can carefully do so.
Don’t Use High Setting
First of all, the main issue is water pressure. If you have the washer cranked all the way up, this will undoubtedly lead to damage. As mentioned above, masonry that’s already a bit loose will be blasted out of your siding if you use a high pressure setting.
Prep For Power Washing
To begin with, prep is essential. Without the proper equipment and protection of elements in close proximity to your brick siding, you’ll end up regretting not taking these steps to heart. Here are the key things to do to prepare for a successful wash:
- Assess Masonry: Before you do any cleaning, take a look at the condition of your brick and mortar. You’ll want to patch and fill any issues before cleaning.
- Nozzle Type: A narrow stream is the faster way to damage brick. Utilize a 40 degree nozzle. This will provide a softer and wide spray.
- Pressure: Keep water pressure at or below 1000 psi. Prior to jumping into washing your entire siding, test a small section to dial in the pressure just right.
- Cover Stuff: Use tarps to safeguard plants, outdoor furniture, and any other items close to brick siding. Also make sure to close doors, windows, and other openings.
Steps to Power Washing
So, how do you clean a brick house? Once you’ve finished with prep, now it’s time to power wash! Follow these steps for a safe & effective cleaning:
- Saturate with clean water: To ensure that you don’t permanently change the color of your brick exterior, thoroughly spray brick before applying a cleaning solution (especially if it contains bleach). Bricks must be wet enough to protect against discoloration.
- Use proper cleaners: You’ll want to pick up a cleaning agent formulated for brick or exterior siding. This can be sourced online or at your local hardware or home improvement store. If you use an improper detergent, this can cause dirt and grime to stick to your brick.
- Less pressure and more soap: Since bricks are extremely porous, you’ll want to spray plenty of water and detergent to thoroughly clean. Spray from the bottom up, making sure to cover every square inch of masonry. Allow it to soak in for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
- Brush stubborn stains: When it comes to tough spots, you’ll want to use a brush. One of the best options is a rotary brush attachment. This will save you some elbow grease having to do it by hand, as well as provide a less harmful alternative to higher washing pressure.
- Rinse off brick: Once the cleaning solution has had time to soak in for several minutes, it’s time to set your sprayer to a milder setting. Spraying from top to bottom, move slowly (but don’t hold in one spot too long) via a circular motion.
- Apply sealant: The last step in the process, a brick and mortar sealant will safeguard your siding and keep it clean longer. As with the cleaner, make sure to use a sealant made for your application.
Cleaning and sealing your home’s brick exterior on a routine basis will not only keep it shiny and clean, but it will also protect it from degradation. And as you can see, the steps are pretty straightforward. Just make sure to follow all these guidelines. This will provide you with a smoother (and quicker) cleaning experience without the worry of avoidable damage.
When it comes to cleaning and restoration, you want to follow the right procedures. If this is outside your scope of ability, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals. Taking care of small issues now will help save you from the stress & cost of dealing with bigger problems later.