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13 Things You Should Never Pressure Wash

Pressure washing is a satisfying task to tackle at home, but don’t get carried away! If you aren’t careful, pressure washing can actually do more harm than good.

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pressure washing houseBeth Van Trees/Shutterstock

Wood Siding

While it’s possible to wash wood siding correctly, there’s also a good chance that water will find its way up and under the exterior surface if you use high pressure. From there, water can damage insulation, electrical wiring and can spur mold growth. A high-powered pressure washer can also dent aluminum and vinyl siding. We’ll walk you though how to safely use a pressure washer to clean your home’s exterior.

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electrical box on houseChristian Delbert/Shutterstock

Electrical Panels and Meters

Even on the exterior of your home or in your yard, fixtures housing electricity should not be pressure washed. Though they can withstand a rainstorm, pressure washing can force water into cracks and crevices and cause damage, resulting in a need for costly repairs. Avoid making these top 10 electrical mistakes by DIYers.

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asphalt shinglesESB Basic/Shutterstock

Asphalt Shingles

Never pressure wash your roof if you have asphalt shingles. The water pressure will remove the granules that are important for protecting your roof. Not to mention, using a pressure washer from a high place is dangerous. Once you squeeze the trigger, the powerful recoil on the spray wand can throw you off balance and off of a  ladder. Plus: 15 silent signs that your roof is failing.

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fixing ac fins with butter knife home air conditioner

Air Conditioners

When it’s time to clean your air conditioning units, don’t reach for your pressure washer. The intense flow of water can bend or crush the delicate fins and restrict air flow, which could shorten the life of the unit. Instead, use a vacuum and much gentler water flow to clean your air conditioner.

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peeling lead paintJoyce Vincent/Shutterstock

Lead Paint

Never remove lead paint with a pressure washer. Lead paint should be carefully contained when removed, not blasted into the air and surrounding surfaces. Learn how to remove lead paint safely yourself.

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crumbling brick

Old Mortar

Weathered brick houses and other landscaping surfaces with mortar can be damaged by pressure washing. Any loose material, especially on older structures, will be blasted away by pressure washing on a high setting. Here, we’ll show you how to correctly clean hard water stains off of brick.

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pressure washer stream

Living Things

This one is a no-brainer (hopefully!). Never pressure wash humans, pets or plants. The force of water coming from a pressure washer can cause physical harm—even penetrate skin—and will most certainly destroy your plants. When you are pressure washing appropriate surfaces, be sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris. Check out the other safety gear every DIYer should own.

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Ceiling Fan Front PorchJohn Wollwerth/Shutterstock

Painted Surfaces That You Want to Stay Painted

Pressure washing will easily chip paint off of most surfaces, so only use a low-pressure flow of water to wash painted items such as a porch floor or painted outdoor furniture. Plus: Learn how to give your pressure washer a tune up.

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broken windowSeDmi/Shutterstock

Windows

Don’t pressure wash windows! The high pressure can break them, causing you a major headache (and expense) to replace. Instead, wash your windows better with these tried-and-true tips from professionals.

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car under hoodAlexxndr/Shutterstock

Vehicles

Using really high pressure to clean your vehicle can actually cause small dents and even chip the paint, making it vulnerable to rust. If you do use a pressure washer to clean your car, be sure it’s set to a low-pressure setting. And never attempt to pressure wash under the hood! It could force water into cracks and crevices and cause serious damage. Home mechanics will appreciate this list of 100 car maintenance tasks that you can do yourself.

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FH02JUN_02631_065Family Handyman

Outdoor Light Fixtures

Though outdoor lighting is built to withstand rain and other outdoor elements, you should not pressure wash these fixtures. You’ll risk forcing water into cracks and causing damage. Learn how to install low-voltage outdoor lighting yourself.

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clean guttersIndy Edge/Shutterstock

Gutters

Though tempting, you should never clean out the inside of your gutters with a pressure washer. It’s best to remove debris by hand, and then rinse the inside clean with a less intense flow of water. Gutters are meant to withstand rainstorms, but could become damaged by the extreme power of a pressure washer.

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power washing stained chairiMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Stained Wood

Pressure washing will pull stain right off of wood surfaces. Maybe that’s what you are going for, but if you intend to keep stain on wood, don’t use a pressure washer to clean it.