Under Pressure

If you feel the need to sing along with David Bowie to get into the groove for this post, you can link to the music video of “Under Pressure” here. Or just hum along to it as you read on down the page.

Last weekend I forewarned that I was about to embark on a pressure washing adventure. I am here blogging to you to say it was successful. No falling off ladders, no broken arms or busted windows. We were thankful for a warm sunshiny day and cranked up the pressure washer. Be cautioned, if you use a pressure washer you will get wet. Like, soaking wet. I recommend high school chemistry class goggles and machine gun operator ear protection. Clothes are optional. I am wearing clothes in these photos only because I am extremely pale skinned and didn’t want the camera operator to get blinded in case of a camera flash. Oh yeah, and because I have neighbors.

This is the back side of the house, notice how there is no grass growing. The backyard has a the most massive oak tree I have ever seen and it needs trimmed like a tangled fur shaggy dog. The amount of shade provided by this tree prevents grass from growing very well in the back yard, the lawn is mostly creeping charlie and other green weeds. But I am concerned with the house right now. The trees and lawn will happen. Eventually.

In these pictures I’m pressure washing a length of soffit. I also took the opportunity to clean off the gutters and downspouts, even jumping up on the roof to carefully wash off some moss in certain areas and blast out the last of those crazy helicopter seeds that our maple trees provide a downpour of. The trick is to be careful with the tips on the pressure washer. Start out with a wide angle. If it’s not doing enough work, slowly work down to a lesser angle. I used 40 on the shingles mostly to wash them of dirt. On the gables, I first used the 25 nozzle and then the 15 nozzle to remove what I felt to be an adequate amount of loose paint. The 15 nozzle did leave some grooves in the wood gables if I stayed in the same place too long. The trick was to keep it moving. Then I washed what I already knew was a trouble spot. And it turned out my fears were correct. Wet wood chunks flew off the house and I cringed.

I knew there was a problem here. I didn’t know how bad it was. This short length of gutter has been tilted so that rather than drain to the downspout, it lays in the opposite end and drips down the side of the house left of the window. The vertical board siding above the gutter, as well as the two rows of shingles below the gutter were in bad bad shape. As in, I ripped the wet pieces off with my bare hands. The fascia board behind the gutter and the soffit board below had to come down. The smaller red circle to the upper left shows where the upper fascia board was rotted as well. I already had to rebuild a short length of soffit and fascia as I mentioned back in this post, and the process is just the opposite of tearing the pieces off. Measure new boards to length, dry fit, shave 1/8″ off length, dry fit again, use paintable caulk and set the new board in place. Nail board securely into ends of rafters. Caulk all seams with paintable caulking. (Why the italics? Read this post to find out why I now pay much more attention to what kind of caulking I use.)

So how well did the pressure washing work? Check out how much bare wood is exposed on the south gable after being power washed. It was pretty much solid white when I began.

I should snap a pic of the ground around the foundation. Covering the ground with plastic only worked about halfway. The dark mulch now looks like salt and pepper with all the white paint flecks that flew off the house. Oh well, live and learn. We need to re-mulch around the house anyways.

The last few days have been crazy with scraping, priming, scraping, ladder climbing, scraping, and priming. Move ladder and repeat.

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