Posted on: 30 July 2015
If you have an old and worn looking wooden fence on your property, then it may be in your best interest to replace it if you notice a great deal of rot across the surface. Rotten wood is wood that has actually decayed to the point where the cellulose inside has broken down. Many different insects and pests feed off the decayed material, and this can leave your home susceptible to infestation. If rot has not started to show up yet, then you may be able to clean the fence and protect the surface from moisture damage to keep those pesky termites away from your home. However, if you clean the wrong way, then you can actually destroy your fence in the process before rot even has a chance to take hold. This happens when pressure washing the wrong way, so find out what you really need to do.
Pressure Washing to Release Debris
Many experts advise you to pressure wash your fence once it starts to look gray. Many different types of woods will fade and become discolored over time, but the gray coloring is usually consistent with cedar materials and it is quite unappealing. The faded color is produced when the natural oils released by the tissues of the wood are dried out. Water damage along the outside surface of the wood as well as general dirt and debris contribute to deterioration too. Often times, stains and sealants are needed to help retain the moisture or oils left in the wood, but the debris needs to be cleared away first. Cleaning also releases the outside layer of deteriorated wood. Pressure is needed for this with the assistance of a pressure washer, and many people think that the more pressure that is used, the quicker and easier the fence will come clean, but this not the case.
Unfortunately, water can actually dent and crack a wood fence when too much pressure is placed on it. In most cases, a pressure washer that releases between 1500 and 2800 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure is ideal for fence cleaning. Devices that are labeled as light and medium duty will work well for you. Any pressure washer that says that it is made for heavy or extra heavy use may cause damage, since they release between 2900 and 3300 PSI. To understand why, you need to understand what PSI means. PSI is the amount of pressure or stress that is applied to each square inch of surface across your fence. If you are not sure exactly what it means to force 1500 PSI against the wood, then consider the fact that your car tires probably contain 32 PSI of air pressure and a natural gas line is under about 1,000 PSI of pressure. This means that 2800 PSI of water pressure exerts more force than you think.
Choosing the Best Nozzle
Not only can the pressure cause damage, but using the wrong nozzle on your pressure washer can gouge the wood fence as well. Most pressure washers come with nozzles that release water across a specific angle. For example, a 0 degree nozzle releases water with a direct spray, and a 15 degree nozzle sprays water across a 15 degree angle. Small angled nozzles like these will create the most force when water is released. This means that it is better to use a 25 degree or 40 degree nozzle or spray end when cleaning off a wooden fence.
There are also nozzles that are sold for use with different detergents or cleaners placed in the reservoir or container of the pressure washer. These nozzles are a great choice if you want to use a mild detergent to get rid of some of the fence debris without increasing water pressure to get the wood clean.
For more information on cleaning your wooden fence the right way, contact a local fence contractor.Share