Building Power Washing & Pressure CleaningCategories: Commercial Services, Strata Services
It’s important to regularly clean the exterior of your strata or commercial building for a number of reasons. Most obviously, it keeps your building looking its best! But even more importantly, periodic washing will extend the lifespan of the paint coating on your concrete, stucco, or wood cladding.
The dirt and airborne pollutants that accumulate on your exterior walls promote mold and mildew growth, which in turn contributes to the breakdown of the paint coating. If left untreated, this problem can lead to the deterioration of your stucco or siding.
How often should a building be washed?
Each building is different, and the frequency of building washing will depend on your local environmental factors. As a general rule, in the Vancouver area, most buildings should be washed every 3 years, and often the north side – along with any sides of the building shaded by trees – should be washed more frequently to remove mildew and algae.
The cleaning process
Remdal washes hundreds of buildings each year, and we wash most of these using a pressure or “power” washer. Pressure washing is typically the most efficient and cost-effective way to wash a building exterior. The pressurized water allows the quick and effective removal of dirt, mold, and mildew. If we are preparing to apply new paint, it also allows us to easily remove loose and peeling paint, or chalky residue.
When we are washing a building in preparation for painting, we pre-treat areas of moss, algae, and/or mildew with a bleach / water solution (usually 1 part bleach to 3 parts water). This solution kills the algae or fungus and makes it easier to clean. It also ensures that these organisms will not continue to grow underneath the new paint and cause it to peel.
Some owners prefer to have their buildings washed without pressure, using a brush and a low-pressure rinse. While brush washing is more expensive than pressure washing, it offers a way to clean the exterior of your building with less surface impact. This method is sometimes desirable for older buildings or buildings with weatherproofing issues.
Is power washing safe for my building?
Sometimes customers are concerned about the risks of using water pressure to clean their building. Can high-pressure water damage siding or stucco? Can pressure washing inject water inside the building envelope?
The answer to both of these questions is, “Yes.” If the person doing the pressure washing isn’t properly trained, damage is very possible: anything from scarred wood to water damage inside the building can occur. Pressure washing isn’t complicated, but there are some basic principles to keep in mind. At Remdal, none of our workers touch a power washer until they’ve gone through our training segment on pressure washing.
When having your building cleaned, we recommend the following:
- Ensure the company has properly trained people doing the washing.
- Only use the amount of pressure needed to break the bond of dirt and mildew. (Holding the pressure nozzle farther back from the surface significantly reduces the impact force on the surface being washed. For example, if you double the distance from the nozzle to the surface, it reduces the impact force by a factor of 4.)
- High-pressure water should not be directed at window or door openings, or upwards under lapped wood siding, or into vented soffits.
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