Quick, think of the filthiest do-it-yourself job around your house.
- Cleaning out the garbage disposal? Good one. It’s pretty gross in there. What’s your kid tossing in that thing?
- How about blowing wet leaves out of your gutters? It’s a great way to ruin a shirt and get decomposed leaves all over your siding.
- Of course nobody likes scrubbing a toilet. Well maybe your weirdo aunt who’s a known germaphobe.
Take your pick of the dirty jobs above. They all suck, to be blunt. They involve grimy conditions that humans do not enjoy. Still they don’t stack up to the dirty job of…..
Sure your deck needs the mildew washed off with a pressure washer every year or so. And that concrete driveway wasn’t meant to look dingy year round.
So the logical thing to most people is to go rent a pressure washer from the paint store and go at it, full blast. They think it’s easy. Just spray some bleach around and use the machine to blow away dirt, grime, and mold.
Here’s a secret.
Since power washing is not truly easy and gets the user really dirty (and wet), most homeowners are one and done. Meaning after that first rental of a pressure washer, they choose to hire out that service next time.
Some folks don’t even get through the first use before giving up! You may have noticed some homes with clean siding up to about ten feet, then still dirty past that point.
You see, running a machine you have no experience with is the issue. If you are an accountant, you don’t use gas powered washers for tax returns I’m guessing.
Or if you own a beauty salon, you don’t need this type tool to wash hair….on most clients anyway.
Along with being a nastier job than gutter cleaning or toilet scrubbing, power washing has other pitfalls.
- These powerful jets of water can hurt the user. Oodles of people visit emergency rooms each year because of bad cuts from the tip of the sprayer.
- How are you gonna haul that machine back to your house in a Volkswagen?
- Inexperienced users can destroy their home’s exterior and even hard surfaces like brickwork with a power washer. It’s not meant to be a chisel or a jackhammer for Pete’s sake.
- Actually buying a small washer makes sense to some homeowners, until they realize how dirty a job it is. Oh, and they are storing a machine they only use once a year. That means it probably won’t crank easily, or at all, after sitting idle for 11 months and 29 days.
Look, I would never discourage a DIYer.
I admire that will to do things on your own.
It’s just that I like saving people from nightmarish scenarios. And for my money, power washing for the average “civilian” just isn’t something they need to try.
Our guys can run a washer for ten hours and stay relatively clean. They know what they’re doing, so they have little tricks to the trade.
Still, even the pros don’t walk away from a power washing job with a dry pair of pants or boots. With some spots on their clothes as well.
If you insist on doing some power washing yourself, I applaud you.
Just make sure to grab some old (very old) clothes out of the back of your closet before you begin a job too nasty for even Mike Rowe.
No need to deny it. I’m not the concrete police. Although I do have an affinity for the material as you may have noticed.
The reason I bring salting driveways up is because we are still in the midst of winter. Don’t let a warm day here and there fool you. Or a lying weatherman with a nice smile.
Winter will be with us a while longer. Consequently we still have to deal with icy conditions. And no one wants to chance slipping on a walkway, winding up in an ER with a concussion or jacked up elbow.
But using salt and other deicers on your hard surfaces around your property simply isn’t a good move. Don’t believe me? Just check out this super-smart looking science guy. That’s not Bill Nye is it?
If you skipped the science lesson in the video from “Dr. Scott” (no Star Trek comments please), here’s the issues with salt use on concrete.
- It can cause corrosion to the rebar underneath the surface. What do you think that does to the main material? Right, it leads to possible crumbling and cracking.
- The chemical damage can also cause surface discoloration depending on the deicer you choose.
- While water that freezes, thaws, then refreezes on concrete is not ideal, it is natural. Thus quality concrete walkways and drives can handle that. It’s the addition of salt and other chemical deicers that put too much stress on the pores of the concrete.
Clearly winter time can be a bummer. Most sane folks prefer 70-80 degree days. You know, so you can leave the house without dressing like a snowmobile tow-truck driver. Having to deal with icy surfaces is just another negative part of having an actual winter. Folks in San Diego and Hawaii don’t have to deal with stuff like this of course.
But in the greater Philadelphia region, winter comes each and every year without fail.
So what are some alternatives to dumping salt on your precious driveway during these inevitable cold months?
- Keep snow shoveled off the main areas to keep ice to a minimum once the freeze sets in.
- Try pickle brine and urea as a safer alternative.
- Ever eat beets? I hear they’re pretty healthy. Oh and sugar beet juice is a 100 percent natural ice melting liquid – Although no one eats enough beets to have the juice to deice an entire driveway, the front steps could be treated easily.
Perhaps you read this post a little too late. Maybe your dad came over and tried to do a favor by keeping you safe from icy paths. And now you’ve got concrete damage.
Everything can be repaired. If it was built once, it can be rebuilt of course. Either the one section, or you might even use the damaged portion as an excuse to upgrade to a nicer material for your walkway. Hopefully most of you caught this article in time to avoid hurting the walkways and driveways you use daily. We can’t save you from winter, but we can help you protect your property.