Pressure Washing Your Sidewalk

Pressure washing your sidewalk can erase months of dirt and grime that accumulate over time on walkways with heavy foot traffic. Bicycles, dogs and children's toys make their way up and down the walk on a daily basis, leaving evidence of their visits behind. Porous surfaces like concrete absorb everything it comes in contact with, so it needs occasional deep cleaning.

Commercial-grade pressure washers can be rented from home improvement stores, and some people own a pressure washer for the home. In either case, read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Pressure washing is a heavy-duty cleaning job that can cause injury and property damage if handled incorrectly. You may also need a professional-strength concrete cleaner for tough oil stains and ground-in grime.

Like replacing air filters, pressure washing your sidewalk has benefits beyond improving the look of your home and yard. A clean sidewalk reduces the dirt and mud your family tracks into the house, which preserves carpets and rugs. Removing debris can also prevent falls, lowering your risk of being held liable for injuries to neighbors and passers-by.

Preparing Your Pressure Washer

The first step in pressure washing your sidewalk is dressing for the occasion. Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes, long pants and safety eye wear. The water pressure can break the skin if it makes contact, and debris on the sidewalk can become projectiles when pressure is applied. Rubber or gardening gloves are also recommended in case your hands make contact with the cleaner or high-pressure stream.

Attach the water supply to the pressure washer. Screw on a garden hose by hand, and tighten it with a wrench. Attach the desired spray tip, and adjust the pressure washer to its lowest setting to begin. Turn on the water supply on before turning on the pressure washer to avoid burning out the motor.

When pressure washing your sidewalk, hold the nozzle close to the ground for the most cleaning power. Use a sweeping motion away from your body to blast away oil, dirt and other stains. When you are finished, use the garden hose to wash away the blasted-off residue.

Pressure Washing Safety

Make sure to warn neighbors about your project in advance so they can steer clear. Coming in contact with the high pressure stream can cause severe injury. This project is best done early in the day when traffic and activity are minimal. Do not let children operate a pressure washer. Handling the machinery can cause injury, and accidental or playful spraying can be dangerous to people and animals.

Never use the pressure washer to wash a house or car without first reading the instructions. The pressure can take the paint right off of the car or home and break windows. Vinyl siding can usually stand up to pressure washing, but read the instructions and consult a home improvement specialist or contractor first.

A good pressure washing is hugely beneficial for concrete and brick sidewalks, but there are some surfaces that should not be pressure washed. Asphalt sidewalks can be damaged by the pressure, making them uneven and allowing weeds and moss to grow. Stone walkways can also be uprooted with pressure washing.

If the sidewalk is deteriorated with many cracks and loose pieces, pressure washing will only damage it further. It may be sparkling when you are finished, but the concrete will be in even more pieces, increasing the risk of injury. Pressure washing your sidewalk is necessary before having the concrete sealed, so wait to pressure wash it until just before you plan to have it sealed. Waiting too long will allow dirt to re-accumulate, wasting that precious time it took to wash in the first place.

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