Wahlen Works Blog

parking garage maintenance

We’ve worked in a lot of parking structures during our 49 years in business, some as small as 5,000 sq ft and others larger than 1M sq ft. Whether yours is a parking garage, a parking ramp, or a parking lot; it is a significant part of your real estate portfolio and requires both routine and preventative maintenance to maintain its value.

As an owner or manager of a parking structure, you’re well acquainted with the damage that naturally occurs over time. Potholes, cracks in the concrete, and corrosion are bound to appear: but their presence can be minimized, and sometimes almost eliminated, with regularly scheduled maintenance.

Your parking structure is the workhorse of your business and often the first point of welcome for you customers. It experiences direct exposure to vehicle traffic, weather, chemicals, and grease on a daily basis. It only takes a few missed deep-cleans for minor deterioration to start. These can turn into problems beneath the surface of the concrete before you know it.

An effective maintenance plan should include all the periodic tasks that are required for smooth day-to-day operation, as well as the tasks performed to avoid future repairs and protect the owner’s investment.

Sweeping and Washing

Your garage needs frequent sweeping — at least monthly — and quarterly pressure washing to remove sand, dirt, and other substances that wear down its concrete surface. Because of human nature, a clean garage is more likely to stay that way because people are less likely to litter in a well-maintained environment. In addition to extending the life of the facility, a clean, well-kept garage is inviting and gives you a good reputation.

In Wisconsin, it’s especially important to schedule a pressure washing in the early spring to remove deicing products and again in the fall to remove leaves and make sure the drainage system is clear.

Pavement Marking and Signage

Your maintenance schedule should include attention paid to pavement markings and signage. Parking lot striping needs to be restored as soon as it begins to fade or wear away. Concrete walks, drives, and curb landings might need to be repainted as often as twice a year for safety purposes.

Waterproofing

The main enemies of the structural integrity of your parking structure are water penetration, chloride penetration, and freeze/thaw damage. The best way to prevent the damage is to prevent penetration into the concrete with a waterproofing barrier. Waterproofing systems that protect the concrete surface extend the life of a garage and make routine maintenance tasks easier to complete.

The ideal waterproofing system uses a calcium silicate gel to penetrate the concrete and fill cracks, pores, and capillaries; forming a subsurface barrier that can’t be peeled, chipped, or scraped away.

A regular maintenance program is critical to preserving your garage and providing excellent service to your customers. Call us to talk about a schedule that perfectly meets your needs. (414) 771-0884

waterproof your concrete

Water is the enemy of your parking structure. It can penetrate the concrete causing costly damage to its steel reinforcement. Considering the large capital investment parking structures require, it’s worth taking some time to consider how best to protect them, not only from water, but also from deicing agents and freeze/thaw cycles.

We believe that the best way to prevent concrete damage is to prevent water and chemical penetration in the first place through the use of a waterproof barrier. Membranes and silane sealant do provide some protection but have drawbacks that waterproofing does not.

For that reason, we recently partnered with Alchemco, manufacturers of the TechCrete 2500 Waterproofing system—a long-term solution that creates a waterproof barrier inside the concrete. 

TechCrete 2500 offers the following benefits:

  1. It has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are “any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions.” In other words, emitted gases from certain solids and liquids. Because TechCrete 2500 is VOC-free, if the concrete structure is ever demolished, the concrete remains recyclable, which is good for the environment.

  2. It is a penetrating solution that forms a calcium silicate gel which fills cracks and capillaries up to 2mm wide. Because it forms a subsurface barrier, it can’t be chipped or scraped away by snow plow blades and it will continue to seal future cracks up to .04mm wide.

  3. There’s no need to close your parking facility during business hours in order to complete the installation. 

  4. One of the best features of TechCrete 2500 is its longevity. It makes the concrete surface more dense which allows it to stand up to traffic from people and cars. It also has the best warranty in the industry ranging from 15-30 years depending on the current condition of the structure.

  5. A TechCrete 2500 treated surface is easy and inexpensive to maintain, requiring only regular sweeping and a yearly pressure wash.  

Parking areas are a large capital investment. The longer they last, the greater the return on your investment. While the value of regular cleaning and maintenance can’t be overstated, the best protection comes from not allowing the water to penetrate the concrete in the first place. Read more about our concrete waterproofing service here.

Protect your parking garage

Parking structures are expensive capital investments. In 2019, the median cost to construct a new parking garage was $21,500 per space and $64.77 per square foot. If the average garage is 145,000 square feet, then you’re looking at almost a million dollars to build a new one. 

Parking structures are so common that we have become oblivious to them. Customers expect them to be there when they need them, and they expect them to be safe. Property owners need them to generate a return on investment and be well maintained. Often they will hire a facility manager to ensure that their needs and the needs of their customers are met.

So it’s no surprise that a 2019 CORT survey of facility managers found that profitability is their #1 concern — up from #3 in 2018. When property managers are under pressure to do more with less, routine maintenance and proactive protection become important. 

With that in mind, here are some useful articles offering good advice on parking structure maintenance. 

How to Protect Your Parking Structure from Winter Weather Damage by Sarah Kloepple, Associate Editor at Buildings.com. 5 min read.

The biggest winter weather liabilities are slip-and-fall injuries, damaging deicers, improper snow removal, and clogged drains. Having your garage professionally cleaned at least once a month will minimize the risk of injuries and chemicals and ensure that your drains don’t get clogged. Pay attention to how your snow removal company does their job to ensure that they aren’t piling the snow too high or causing damage with the snow plow blades.

Protecting Parking Structures by James P. Donnelly, P.E., S.E. 7 min read.

In this article James Donnelly, a structural engineer, gives a concise but thorough overview of the ways that parking garages deteriorate, the types of routine maintenance that need to be done, how to schedule inspections, and effective waterproofing strategies. 

Financing Parking Garages: Q&A with Parking Consultant Gerard Giosa. 9 min read.

Although the majority of this article deals with the costs of building structured parking rather than surface parking, it also addresses budgeting for operational and maintenance costs. Giosa says, “A good number to budget for ongoing parking garage operating and maintenance expense is about $500 per space per year…It is also critical to perform routine preventative maintenance on the garage, including sealing decks and replacing caulking and joints, to avoid major structural repair bills as the garage begins to age. With a good preventative maintenance program, a parking garage can be expected to last 50 to 70 years or longer.” 

Planning for parking: How strategy and technology can improve garage integration by Stan Bochniak, former Facility Manager. 7 min read.

The focus of this article, which first appeared in FMJ magazine, is parking in mixed-use developments. These developments combine retail, entertainment, offices, and residences in a walkable space. But, people often arrive at their initial destination by car, which makes parking an important part of the experience. “Since mixed-use garages are used more than traditional garages, their maintenance demands are higher. Spaces turn over more quickly, and everything from elevators to trash cans are used more frequently. Regular maintenance tasks, like sweeping and steam cleaning, have to be done more often and scheduling is a bit more challenging.”

A common theme among each of these articles is that when you plan for the regular cleaning and upkeep of your parking structures, you are making the wisest possible use of your budget. At Wahlen Works, we can provide a single service or a combination of services to help you maximize your dollars spent. Instead of tackling problems as they occur, budget for proactive, pre-scheduled approach to maintenance.

facility cleaning and maintenance
2019 is almost over and 2020 is just around the corner. Here is the cleaning and maintenance you need to be thinking about when it comes to keeping your facilities in top shape throughout the next year.

January through March

During our long Wisconsin winters, property owners want to minimize unnecessary damage to their property and also keep drivers safe. It’s best for the longevity of your concrete if you simply remove snow with a plow. If you’re worried about a slick ramp, you can use sand. If you must use a deicing agent use a chemical, such as calcium magnesium acetate, that won’t damage the concrete or steel reinforcement.  
 
When the weather gets bad outside, it’s a perfect time to clean an polish your Indoor concrete floors. They are porous and need to be sealed to prevent stains and last longer.
 
Once March arrives, spring is just around the corner and you can begin to think about spring cleaning. It’s a great time to consider a complete service package for your property which includes sweeping, power washing, pavement striping, and concrete sealing. 
 
Now is the time to check signage for damage from corrosion or vandalism so that the signs can be cleaned or replaced if necessary. Inspect walkways, handrails, stairwells, and walking surfaces for hazards. If your stairwells and elevator enclosures are dirty, add them to the list of places to be cleaned.

April through June

The first thing to think about in April is a thorough sweeping of your entire facility to remove sand and dirt from parking and pedestrian areas. Then it’s time for deep cleaning and protecting with power washing and concrete sealing.
 
Pressure washing
Pressure washing gives instant aesthetic improvement to your property — a deep clean you can’t get any other way. It removes accumulated layers of dirt and grime, chemicals, and especially salt — even if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Power washing can be used on pavement, walls, roofs, and equipment. 
 
Concrete Sealing
Sealed concrete lasts longer, looks better, and resists staining. Water penetration is damaging to roads and to masonry walls. To maximize the life of your structure, it is very important to keep water from penetrating it, which sealing does.
 
Finally, you will want to evaluate whether you need new pavement markings in time for summer traffic. Fresh, high quality pavement marking keeps vehicle and pedestrian traffic organized and moving smoothly which keeps everyone safer and happier. Removing dirt, oil, and grease with power washing will allow you to know if you need to re-stripe.

July through September

School’s out for summer which means it’s time for school (and park) improvements such as painting your playground for sports and other activities. Whether it is a basketball court, a kickball diamond, a hopscotch track, or a foursquare space, we can provide an expert layout.
 
Summer is also time for Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair, and dozens of other local festivals and activities. With all this fun comes extra food and oil spills. By August you may need your second pressure wash of the year. We also recommend ongoing maintenance like monthly sweeping and removal of graffiti from concrete and masonry surfaces.
 
By September, construction season is winding down. If you have a project nearing completion, schedule your post construction clean up early so you’re not left with potential hazards on your property.

October through December

Once we pass the fall equinox, it’s time to prepare for winter.
 
First remove leaves. Their chemical composition can  damage the surface of your concrete or asphalt. A professional sweeping will clear leaves and debris from places where water needs to flow freely. Then, inspect for damage to the concrete and perform repairs. Walk around all your snow plowing routes to ensure that they are unobstructed.
 
We recommend a second pressure washing in the fall. Seal the concrete if you didn’t do it in the spring. By the end of October, seal coating season is just about over.
 
Inspect lights for proper operation. A well-lit facility is safer for travel and feels safer to your guests, especially as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Clean and replace lights as needed. Lastly, wash windows so that the maximum amount of that precious winter daylight can stream into your workspaces.

Commercial Floor Sealing

sealing concrete floors
The use of hard surface floors is on the rise in commercial establishments. Concrete has always been a popular choice for warehouses and garages. In addition, it is becoming trendy for lofts, office buildings, and shared workspaces. There are a lot of reasons for this, including economics and aesthetics. The concrete is already there so there is no additional expense from covering it with wood, carpet, or another material. Furthermore, when properly sealed, the natural, rustic beauty of the concrete is enhanced. 
 
Concrete is porous and so it needs to be sealed to prevent stains and increase its lifespan. There is a lot to know about properly sealing an interior concrete floor, which is why we believe it’s wise to hire a professional. It is demoralizing to spend all that time, energy, and money only to have bubbles, blotches, and dull spots. Because of the rough nature of the surface of concrete, sealer that is not applied properly won’t look good.
 
Before sealing your concrete floor, it must be prepared properly. If the concrete is rough, grinding, densifying, and polishing needs to be done. Next, all dust, dirt, and debris must be removed. Any spills, stains, or wax must be thoroughly cleaned with a product designed for concrete so that the sealant will adhere. During this phase, we can also dye the concrete to enhance the decor and design. Then the floor must be rinsed and allowed to dry completely. Incomplete drying will trap moisture under the sealant. 
 
After repairing cracks, the floor is ready to be sealed. It’s important to select the correct sealant. This varies based on whether or not the floor has been painted or stained or has had design textures applied during installation. The product must also be formulated for interior use. A different sealant is used for concrete warehouse floors than is used for concrete office floors. The interior space needs to be well ventilated during this part of the process and the floor needs to be allowed to dry completely before it’s ready for foot or vehicle traffic. 
 
Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the concrete floor. A relatively new floor requires a different type of preparation than an older one.

Floor Sealing Questions

When you contact us to have your concrete floor finished and sealed, we’ll have some questions for you.
  1. Where is the floor located (warehouse, office building, etc.)?
  2. How old is the floor?
  3. Is it painted or intentionally stained?
  4. Was the concrete finished with any type of design.
  5. Are there accidental stains which need to be removed?
  6. Has the floor been sealed before? If so, how long has it been since the previous application?
  7. How much traffic does the floor have to bear?
At Wahlen Works, we know which type of sealer and process you’ll need for your particular floor sealing project in order to increase it’s life and enhance it appearance. A properly finished and sealed concrete floor can last for years before it needs to be treated again. Contact us for an estimate today. https://www.wahlenworks.com/estimate/

Construction Site Clean Up

construction site clean up
All construction projects have the same thing in common…they leave behind a mess that somebody has to clean up. Construction site clean up is not generally the responsibility of the contractor. Once they’ve removed their equipment and tools, they’re done. But the site still needs to be made ready for occupancy — or in some situations ready for the next phase of the project. 
 
Debris needs to be removed and surfaces need to be made spotless. It’s a big to-do list. Without experience and attention to detail, the client’s first walk through can be a disappointment. 
 
This is where we come in. If you need a construction clean-up crew within the next few days or the next few weeks, Wahlen Works is your best choice. We are thorough, professional, and will quickly get your building clean, safe, and ready to occupy. In addition, we are flexible enough to work within your schedule and can be available on short notice. Best of all, we work quickly and carefully which gives you a greater return on your money spent. 
 
We offer the following construction site clean up services: 
  • Trash and debris removal
  • Concrete floor cleaning, polishing — and sealing if necessary
  • Removal of oil, dirt, mineral residue, and paint from masonry
  • Washing of walkways, entries, driveways, and parking areas
  • Exterior building cleaning
  • General pavement cleaning
Whether it’s a new multi-story office building or a luxury condo development, we can get the job done. We never waiver in our commitment to excellence and your satisfaction is guaranteed.
parking lot maintenance
Wisconsin has nearly perfect weather in early fall. Daytime temps in the 70s mean that just about every activity is comfortable. Temperatures in the 50s at night make for great sleeping weather. These gorgeous conditions can almost convince us that it will last forever. But we know it won’t.  Whether or not there’s another polar vortex in our future this winter, we know it will get cold. There will be snow and ice. There will be salt and sand. It will be messy. It’s time to think about parking lot maintenance.
 
As difficult as it is to think about, now is the time to prepare for winter. To make it easier for you, we’ve developed this handy checklist of everything you need to address to protect your parking facility before Wisconsin does what Wisconsin does. 

Winter Preparation Checklist

The Autumn list for parking lot maintenance includes:
  1. Clean your parking lot. Leaves are not as innocent as they seem. Their chemical composition can  damage the surface of your concrete or asphalt. In addition, fall leaves that have been compacted and frozen by an early snowfall are a pain to remove. A professional sweeping will clear leaves and debris from places where water needs to flow freely. Then, pressure wash the entire facility for clean, odorless property.
  2. Inspect thoroughly for damage. Perform repairs on potholes or cracks. If you defer these repairs until the spring thaw, the damage will be greater and more expensive to fix. 
  3. Check your drainage so water doesn’t pool in the lot or run back to the foundation.
  4. Seal your concrete. Concrete sealing creates a barrier between winter chemicals and salt and your parking surface. By the end of October, seal coating season is just about over, so don’t delay.
  5. Walk around all your snow plowing routes to ensure that they are unobstructed.
  6. Evaluate whether or not your pavement markings and signs are clear and easy to see. If not, consider new parking lot striping. A freshly painted lot  increases the odds that people will drive and park safely. When large sections of your parking lot are used to store unmelted snow, you need to make sure that the rest of your parking lot can be used properly and efficiently.
  7. Review all customer and employee access points into your building. wash to make sure that people don’t slip and fall. check for irregularities in the walkway that can cause people to trip.
If you fail to winterize, your costs could easily shift from preventative (which is less expensive) to reparative (which is more expensive).
 
Start today! The average first frost in southeastern Wisconsin happens in October. That’s now and it means you want to schedule your service within the next few weeks. Before we perform any job for our Milwaukee clientele we map out a detailed plan to ensure that the work is done efficiently and expertly. Call us today at (414) 774-0884 to schedule your winterizing services.
 
professional power washing
We write a lot about power washing on our blog because it gives your property more bang for the buck than almost any other monetary investment. Also known as pressure washing, it gives you a deep clean you can’t get any other way. It removes accumulated layers of dirt and grime, no matter how long it has been since your property was last sparkling clean. Power washing can be used on pavement, walls, roofs, and equipment.
 
Deep, ground-in dirt can come from a variety of sources including natural elements, such as the weather, and the human presence on your property. This kind of dirt won’t disappear by itself. The longer you go without a deep clean, the more difficult it becomes to get it looking like new again.
 
Professional power washing is an important part of all property maintenance. If you’re a smaller business, you might be tempted to do it yourself, but that will likely be frustrating and a waste of time. If you’re a larger business it’s easy to forget to schedule this type of routine maintenance. But you don’t want to be “that” business: the one with the dingy exterior that stands out in a bad way. 
 
In our travels around greater Milwaukee, we’ve observed 8 businesses that need more pressure washing than they currently have scheduled.
  1. Warehouses. We know that warehouses are places where work happens which is why regular power washing of walkways, loading docks, and entryways should be a given. On top of that, there is the cleaning that needs to be done in between tenants. This should include pre-treating stains and spills, removing oil and grease, and sealing the concrete. 
  1. Retail centers and shopping malls. Since these facilities welcome paying guests year-round, we are always surprised when we see that exterior cleaning has been neglected. Shopping centers require parking lot maintenance that includes frequent pavement cleaning. 
  1. Restaurants and hotels. If guests notice that exterior areas have been allowed to get dirty, what impression will that give them of the interior areas? The entrance, walkways, and parking lots are the most obvious place to start, but don’t forget that dirty dumpster area. A professional power wash will give you the satisfaction of cleanliness and keep your guests’ minds on their delicious meal or their good night’s rest. 
  1. Entertainment complexes. The remnants of people having a good time — such as peanut shells, gum, and anything with sugar in it — usually end up on the grounds outside the venue. After a few weeks of baking in the sun, only a professional power washer will be able to remove them completely.
  1. Office buildings. Most property managers know that their office buildings need regular pressure washing. Still, it’s surprising how long cigarette butts, empty beverage containers, spider webs, and last autumn’s leaves can stay put. For heavily trafficked areas, power washing should be done monthly.
  1. Apartment complexes. There are so many places in a residential community that can and do get dirty. Parking areas, stairways, and common areas are easily littered. If left too long, residential dirt has a compound effect because it’s human nature to assume that if other people are lazy with litter, you can be too. When your business is to attract renters, you want your property looking like new.
  1. Trucking centers. Most logistics centers and truck fleets are housed outdoors where they are subject to the whims of the weather. In these cases, the trucks need regular power washing as much as the facility does.
  1. Gas stations. Most modern gas stations also have a decent sized convenience store that serves snacks, soda, and fried foods which are frequently spilled on the way to the car. Then there is the oil from the constant vehicle traffic. And if the station has a car wash, there is potential for even more dirt to accumulate on the property. Regular professional cleaning is the answer here too. Your customers will notice.
Professional power washing must be frequent, thorough — and most of all — scheduled. Give us a call to set up your regular pressure washing services today. We’ll work around your schedule so that your business isn’t interrupted. And you’ll be very proud of your property.
pavement marking communicates

Do you realize that your pavement marking can talk? Well maybe not talk exactly, but it certainly can communicate. In fact, that is its primary function. It’s like the project manager on your team or the traffic officer at Miller Park. Fresh, high quality pavement marking keeps vehicle and pedestrian traffic organized and moving smoothly which keeps everyone safer and happier.

What Is The Purpose of Marking?

Pavement marking is so ubiquitous and so expected that most people rarely give it a thought — until it isn’t visible when they need it. If you have ever been caught in a blinding thunderstorm or found yourself with seconds to decide if you need to merge or stay put, you know that proper road surface marking is the difference between fear and confidence. 

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the U.S. Department of Transportation says, “Pavement markings are used to convey messages to roadway users. They indicate which part of the road to use, provide information about conditions ahead, and indicate where passing is allowed.” Symbols, such as for bicycles, tell you how you are permitted to use the lanes. They can also warn you of areas where you might want to exercise caution, such as at railroad crossings.

In parking structures and on other private property, clear easy-to-understand striping tells drivers where to go and what to do. A prominent crosswalk tells pedestrians that it is safe to walk there. Signs and symbols tell both foot and vehicle traffic where they are permitted to move, wait, and park. This is good for customers and business, but it also complies with the law, specifically in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When creating handicapped parking areas, a combination of clearly marked stalls and proper signage sends a warm welcome message to all visitors.

What Do Parking Lot Pavement Markings Mean?

When you enter a ramp or other parking structure, you are confronted with markings that are more complex than the standard yellow and white of the highways. Pavement marking works in conjunction with signs and (sometimes) traffic signals to direct traffic through a parking area and a yellow line (either solid or broken) is still used to indicate two-way traffic. However, you will also see stop lines, crosswalks, painted curbs, and symbol markings. 

  • A stop bar marking is a single white line that tells you where to stop.
  • Word and symbol markings, such as yield or directional arrows, communicate to you without diverting your attention from the road.
  • Crosswalk markings are parallel double white lines that tell pedestrians where they can cross the roadway. Sometimes they are accompanied by the symbol “ped xing” on the road just before the crosswalk that tells the driver to prepare to stop.
  • Curb striping is used to communicate curb use rules such as no parking, fire lanes, handicapped zones, loading and unloading, parking for a short period of time, and parking allowed.

$136M Pavement Marking Project

In California, they tested a new 6-inch wide, highly reflective road striping in 2017. The $136 million project was implemented on I-80 in the capital city of Sacramento. The test was so successful that Caltrans decided to re-stripe 50,000-plus lane miles of state highway system in the next decade. 

Their reasoning is that markings “must be capable of conveying information during inclement weather and evening hours when there may be little to no illumination from overhead lighting. The 6-in.-wide striping provides a valuable continuous stream of information about the roadway that signs or signals cannot supply. They alert drivers to changes in the roadway and help them maintain their position inside of the lane without requiring the driver to take their eyes off the road.”

While pavement marking obviously can’t talk, it does tell us things and communicates valuable information that we literally cannot live without. If your striping is faded or inefficient, give us a call. We’ll have it “talking” to you again in no time.

DIY Pressure Washing
DIY pressure washing is quite the fad. Lots of people think they can tell you how to safely use a pressure washer to clean your property. After all, you’re spraying water. How hard can it be?  Not hard at all according to HGTV and DIY Network. “The process only requires a few tools”, they say. “You can purchase a pressure washer at nearly any hardware store or rent one from a local tool rental shop”, they insist. “Erase years of wear and tear from your driveway in just a few simple steps”, they promise. Be skeptical, we advise.
 

It Looks Easier Than It Is

 
Pressure washing is one of those things that looks much easier than it actually is. Without experience or someone to show you what to do, you won’t be certain of the outcome of your first efforts with the pressure washer. When you operate a pressure washer incorrectly, you run the risk of property damage, physical injury, and environmental pollution. If you use too much pressure for too long in a small area, you will have etched concrete. If you don’t know what safety precautions to take or if you give into the temptation to take safety shortcuts, you can end up in the emergency room. Indiscriminate, unplanned washing can send pollutants into the municipal water system or your carefully tended garden.
 
Even people who have experience with professional power washing equipment are tired and dirty at the end of the job. When you consider the expenses of DIY pressure washing — machine rental, cleaning supplies, potential damage repair — and the amount of time the work will take, you have to consider the return on investment. It’s especially tempting for small business owners with modestly-sized properties to think that they can save some money by going the DIY route. But, wouldn’t the time you spend learning pressure washing the hard way be better spent investing in the business you own — the place where you are an expert?
 
At Wahlen Works, we are experts in pressure washing so we do have a dog in this hunt. We think you are going to be happier and better off if you hire us to do your pressure washing rather than doing it yourself. And we are not the only ones who urge potential novice pressure washers to be cautious. Glenn Hegge of the “Handyman Show” says, “While a power washer often is the tool of choice for driveways, decks and siding, you have heard me caution about using a power washer for certain projects, because the water pressure these units create can damage the things you are trying to make look good.”
 

Pressure Washing Pitfalls

 
We have observed five common areas where inexperienced pressure washing gets people into trouble. Each one provides a good reason not to undertake DIY power washing. 
 
  1. Using too much pressure. Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). The water pressure of a typical garden hose is about 40 psi, while a gas-powered pressure washer dispenses water at between 2000 to 2800 psi (source: consumer reports). This is enough pressure to splinter wood, dent automobiles, and etch concrete. Without experience, it’s easy to cause damage that is expensive to fix.
  1. Working inefficiently. Most 1950’s housewives would tell you that it’s best to clean top to bottom and back to front. They would probably also tell you to soak tough stains and air dry your sheets. The same principles apply to pressure washing. However, if you aren’t accustomed to this mindset, you might not think to pre-treat grease stains until they didn’t get clean the first time. 
  1. Not using the correct products. Speaking of pre-treating, do you know which solutions to use? Or which detergents to add to the water? Or that you need to add cleaning solutions to the water at all? If not, don’t feel bad. Most people don’t. This is where a professional can save time and money by doing the job right the first time. In addition, they know how to keep harmful chemicals out of the sewer system and out of your landscaping.
  1. Not using the correct equipment. There are many different types of pressure washers available for rent and for purchase. Generally speaking, electric units have a lower psi and gas units have a higher psi. Beyond that, it takes some time to research and decide which machine you need. Or you can take the word of the salesperson. All of these things take time and have a learning curve. 
  1. Failing to take proper safety precautions. If your pressure washer can etch concrete, what do you think it will do to your Nike’s? You need the right protective equipment which includes sturdy shoes, protective eyewear, and gloves. If you are using a gas powered machine you shouldn’t operate it in an enclosed space. If you are using an electric machine you need to remember that water is an excellent conductor of electricity. In other words, if you’ve never operated a pressure washer before, there’s a lot to learn. Most of it is probably in the manual, but how much of that will you realistically read?
 
Properly maintained hardscapes add value to your property and speak well of your business. And yet, your time is most valuable when it’s invested in what matters most to you. Instead of spending your Saturday learning how to use a pressure washer, be a DIY outdoorsman and let the facilities professionals keep your facility clean.

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