The phone is ringing. A customer is calling to get a quote for washing his house. We present a good price, and the job is ours. What do we do next?
Taking this from the first step, we must have answers to some questions before we can start. It is best to call 1 or 2 days prior to the scheduled day to confirm the date and answer any new questions. This is also a great time for any housekeeping issues that may affect the job. The following is a list of questions and recommendations you may want to ask or state:
1) Is the water supply on and accessible?
2) Have you made payment arrangements?
3) Will someone be home?
4) Will the homeowner remove screens as necessary?
5) Will all pets be kept inside that day?
6) Does the customer have any questions?
7) Have we confirmed the appointment and time?
8) Have we discussed weather related issues and rescheduling issues if needed?
9) Has the customer removed anything they feel is valuable from around the house and deck?
NOTE: It is important when cleaning a log cabin (and some other structures) that someone be present or that you have access to the interior. Water can get through to the inside and it helps to have someone first inspect for previous leaks prior to starting the job as well as keep an eye on the job moving forward.
It is now time to load up the truck and go to the job. For some a simple checklist of all items needed comes in handy so as not to forget a needed tool or item for the job. Upon arriving at the job you should knock on the door (in uniform) and introduce yourself. At this time a quick explanation may be in order and again ask if there are any questions. Next, before unloading any equipment, make sure you have a good water supply.
Now it is time to unload the truck and set up equipment. It is very important when setting up and using the equipment that you are paying attention to the landscape and surroundings. You do not want to pull hoses across the property doing damage to flowers, lighting, etc. that can cost you more money to replace than the job pays in profit. Remember you are here to make the property look better, not worse.
At this time we want to move items and protect any lights, plants, breakables, etc. that could be damaged. Connect the pressure washer to the garden hose (if you are using a portable power washer). For those with trailer or enclosed units you will simply pull the hoses out to the structure. For building cleaning it is time to assemble scaffolding, put lifts in place, anchor harnesses, etc, for safety and access to all areas. Depending on how we will be applying chemical we now want to make sure that we are set up and that are cleaning solution is in place. Now connect any wands, extension poles, external injection tools, or other equipment you will be using. Check to make sure everything is in working order.
We now should address any stains that should be scrubbed first. We never want to apply cleaners to dry surfaces so we want to wet the surface first. We should scrub all stains to the best of our ability prior to washing as a whole.
Wet down and cover any plants around the property that may be damaged by the cleaners you will be using. Consider protecting the plants after wetting them so that strong cleaners cannot sit on the leaves and burn them.
Working from the bottom up, apply water to the surface. Next, it is time to apply the cleaning solution to the surface (again from the bottom up) and let it dwell as needed. Dwell time is the amount of time you allow the cleaners and chemical to remain on the surface to work. After the appropriate time has elapsed it is now time to wash the siding. For the cleaning work, you should now work from the top down.
NOTE: The best way to apply cleaners and rinse the surface is to point your gun above the area you are trying to reach. Let the spray fall downward onto the surface instead of shooting directly at it. This will ensure that you don’t force water under the siding and between the joining sections.
House washing can be done by injecting cleaner through your power washer and using moderate pressure to clean. The ideal tool for this is a telescoping wand. More recently contractors have turned to an external injection tool, which allows them to shoot the cleaner on to the surface, let it dwell for 10-15 minutes, and then rinse it off using the external injection tool. The second method is faster, but uses more soap to get the job done. Whether you use the “dwell” method of cleaning or your injector; whether you use the telescoping wand or the external injection tool to wash a building, you will likely want to set up on one corner of the building with the objective of cleaning two sides before you have to move your equipment. The idea will be to apply cleaner to one side, let it dwell for several minutes, and then wash or rinse that side. Moving on to the next side, repeat the process. Then move to the opposite corner and repeat the process all over again.
If you are using an external injection tool, arc the spray a few feet away from the building so that the water/soap is falling down on to the surface.
If you are using a wand or telescoping wand, you should keep it moving at all times in a pendulum type movement and never start or stop the gun directly on the siding.
If you are using a telescoping wand, you should stand a safe distance away and start out approximately 12 inches away from the surface and move closer only as needed. Be careful when getting closer than 6 inches from the surface as you may cause physical damage (depending on the substrate and pressure involved). Most homes can be cleaned between with pressures between 300 – 1000 PSI.
If you need to minimize the pressure and still use the total GPM capacity of your washer there are easy ways to do this. The easiest way is to use the nozzle chart (page 15) and select a larger orifice tip to reduce the PSI. Another way is to use a dual lance wand which will apply chemicals through one tip and allow you to adjust the pressure of the other tip by the handle on the gun. It is important to look at the pressure washer as a large rinsing tool. Obviously there are times when increased pressure and hot water will come in handy but, it is important to allow chemicals and cleaners to do the actual work through proper dwell times. We recommend that you do not use any hot water over 130 degrees. Do not let chemicals and cleaners dry on surfaces.
Ladder use in cleaning of structures is frowned upon when using a pressure washer as this could lead to accidents and falls. Standing on a 24’ ladder and pulling the trigger on a 4000 PSI machine is a scary proposition. Extreme caution should always be exercised when using a ladder and you should have someone “foot” the ladder at all times.
To minimize or eliminate ladder use many contractors use chemical injectors, telescoping wands, external injection tool, or shooter tips to apply chemicals and rinse surfaces.
Chemical injectors allow you to apply cleaners through a special tip (black tip) to surfaces. This tip is used with your washer at a low setting and will shoot a good distance. Telescoping wands are often used in conjunction with this method.
NOTE: Never try to the use a telescoping wand from a ladder.
An external injection tool nozzle injects and proportions soaps, chemicals or liquids at high pressure or low pressure without going through your pump, hose, or gun. The external injection tool projects chemicals or other liquids to vertical heights of 40 feet or more, depending on your pressure washer. It can be used with virtually any pressure washer, hot or cold, from 1000PSI to 6000PSI. You can wash and remove mold, dirt and mildew from houses, buildings, water tanks, silos, roof tops, and high structures without using ladders, scaffolding, or a telescoping wand.
Shooter tips are tips that attach to your regular wand or telescoping wand and shoot chemical and water over 30 feet. These tips have a cone shape at the end of the tip at varying sizes to allow for different ranges.
We now move around the structure until it is completely cleaned. Before breaking down your equipment, you should (if someone is present and available) do a ‘walk around’ with your customer to inspect the job and sign off. You do not want to have to come back for a missed spot since this is very expensive to do.
If you will be washing windows it is at this time you would do so. It is also a nice touch to put back items as they were and do “touch-ups” such as blowing off walkways, raking mulch beds, wiping window sills, etc. as this will separate you from your competition and leave a lasting impression on the customer. Remember you are looking for repeat customers, so do everything to insure that you will be doing the work in years to come.