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What Are Pressure Cleaning Services & Why Do I Need Them?

by | Feb 12, 2019

At Northbay Maintenance, we provide pressure cleaning services for businesses and homes across the North Bay area. But what is pressure washing, exactly, and why do you need it?

Today in the blog, let’s take a look!

What Is Pressure Washing: How Does It Work?

Have you ever held your thumb over a garden hose to get it to spray farther? By blocking off part of the hose’s opening, the same amount of water suddenly has to flow through a smaller space. The only way for that to happen is for the water to suddenly speed up as it passes through the tiny opening.

Now imagine multiplying that by a factor of several hundred.

That’s pressure washing. A pump pushes a stream of water through a pipe, where it meets a nozzle that blocks off most of the pipe’s opening, much more efficiently than your thumb. This causes an enormous increase in the water’s pressure and thus its speed.

If you point it instead at something like a dirty wall or driveway, this strong jet of water can blast away grime. That is the basic premise behind our pressure cleaning services.

Variety in Pressure Washers

Pressure washers have a variety of options and configurations. For one thing, there’s no fixed pressure setting. Light-duty washers might have a maximum pressure of under 1,500 pounds per square inch (PSI), while the most powerful heavy-duty pressure washers might have a pump capable of delivering over 4,000 PSI.

Additionally, pressure cleaning services, like what we offer at Northbay Maintenance, use different nozzles that allow for different amounts of constriction on the water flow. It’s like moving your thumb to block more or less of the opening, resulting in a stronger or weaker spray of water. This allows us to easily match the correct pressure to the surface being cleaned so that no damage is caused to the surface.

Many pressure washers also have inlets for detergents, to provide extra cleaning or degreasing power in situations where it would be helpful. Sometimes, it isn’t helpful! In some pressure cleaning services, detergent isn’t necessary or can’t be used due to environmental concerns like runoff into a river or waterway.

What Is Pressure Washing: How Safe Is It?

It’s understandable to wonder if pressure cleaning services are safe. If the cleaning mechanism involves blasting the grime off of a material with a powerful jet of water, wouldn’t that damage the material too?

The answer to that isn’t a simple yes or no. Instead, it depends on the circumstances. It’s certainly possible to make the water pressure high enough that it will destroy virtually anything. That’s how water saws work after all! But at lower pressures, there’s usually a sweet spot where the pressure is high enough to dislodge the grime but low enough not to damage the material. That’s where hiring an experienced and licensed pressure washing service team can really be important. Oftentimes, Northbay Maintenance has been called in to come fix costly damage done to a property from an inexperienced pressure washing service. Fixing damage caused by bad pressure washing habits can cost 5-6x more than just hiring a professional team that knows how to do the job right the first time. Remember: cheaper pressure cleaning services aren’t always less expensive in the long run.

Pressure washing is a little bit like a chef’s knife: It cuts through the food you’re slicing, but not the countertop or board that you’re cutting on unless you chop too hard!

What Materials Can Handle Our Pressure Cleaning Services?

Many common outdoor materials can handle pressure washing safely, provided that the equipment is operated by an expert, such as our professional crews at Northbay Maintenance.

  • Concrete
  • Wood
  • Brick
  • Stucco
  • Asphalt
  • Fiber Cement Siding
  • Vinyl Siding
  • Aluminum Siding

Tricky Materials

Some materials can be pressured washed safely, but are tricky, and can be hazardous if you try it yourself. A good example is a shingled roof. At Northbay Maintenance, we are often able to treat shingled roofs with our usual pressure cleaning services, but we do not recommend cleaning a shingled roof on your own. “Why not?” you may ask after already learning so much about what pressure washing is. Taking a DIY approach to some household projects may work, but for cleaning projects like cleaning a shingled roof, using a pressure sprayer on your own cause the shingles to dislodge, not to mention the power of the spray can actually knock you off the roof!

Other examples of tricky surfaces are aluminum siding, which can dent, and wood shingle siding which can rot or cause mold and electrical safety problems. With expert care, these materials can usually be pressure washed safely, but we strongly discourage you from trying it on your own.

Damaged Materials

Oftentimes, we’ll find a damaged spot on a material that is otherwise safe to pressure clean. This can happen with old materials, corners, or high-impact surfaces.

In these cases, Northbay Maintenance offers our careful custom approach. We’ll provide our pressure cleaning services to the areas where we can safely do so, and provide gentler cleaning on the delicate area—even scrubbing by hand when necessary.

Unsuitable Materials

Occasionally, there is no sweet spot at all: The lowest effective pressures to blast away grime are still high enough to damage the material itself or the structure it belongs to. Some examples include:

  • Shingle Siding
  • Asphalt Shingles
  • Windows (Use Our Window Washing Service Instead!)
  • Lead Painted Surfaces
  • Light Fixtures
  • Utility Equipment (E.g., Electric Panels & Outlets, Fuel Tanks, Gas Pipes)

When it comes to any of these materials, contact us to discuss services that would best serve you instead of our pressure cleaning service!

What Is Pressure Washing: Why Do I Need It?

Pressure washing can restore the brightness and vitality of old surfaces. The difference is sometimes pretty amazing. Until you see it for yourself, it can be hard to believe just how grimy, gray, and dull many surfaces become over time.

In turn, this bright, clean, vivid look is a great way to spruce up your home or commercial property. Dull, dirty surfaces can make a business look like it’s struggling or doesn’t care. They can make homes look unloved and neglected.

Our pressure cleaning services breathe new life into your outdoor spaces. This restores pride of ownership, which makes businesses look more dynamic and successful, and makes homes look sharp and stunning. It can help a home sell faster and for more money, and can win a business new clients.

It’s also much cheaper than many of the alternatives such as repainting surfaces or replacing them with completely new materials.

Other Pressure Washing Services

At Northbay Maintenance we also offer parking lot and garage pressure cleaning services for businesses. Not only does pressure washing make your lots look nicer, but it actually helps prolong the lifespan of the surfacing as the grime that adheres to the asphalt will gradually deteriorate the surface over time.

Additionally, we offer dumpster pressure washing to commercial clients. This is a great way to reduce smells, control pests, and slow down the spread of bacteria.

Contact Us

We proudly serve the North Bay, including Napa, Marin, Eastbay, and Sonoma Counties. In addition to pressure cleaning, we provide many other services as well, from tile and grout cleaning to janitorial services.

Now that you’ve learned what pressure washing is, and how you can benefit from our professional pressure cleaning services here at Northbay Maintenance, contact us today for a free onsite evaluation to discuss your cleaning needs!