Time to take a dive and power wash

Posted 7/1/21

This is a warning: Don't take up power washing if you're a perfectionist. I'm not the perfectionist, but I can't stand a job half completed. Power washing demands that, too. I've power washed the house siding, amazed by the streams of grit and pollen

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Time to take a dive and power wash


This is a warning: Don’t take up power washing if you’re a perfectionist.

I’m not the perfectionist, but I can’t stand a job half completed. Power washing demands that, too.

I’ve power washed the house siding, amazed by the streams of grit and pollen that pour off. This can be accomplished rather quickly and when you’re done those sections missed blend in, and overall the effort is rewarding.

But get down to cleaning stone stairs, a sidewalk or the apron around a pool and you’re in for an endurance test. To clean these surfaces of baked-in grime, often accompanied by a patina of green growth, requires directing a stream from no more than 8 inches to pry the dirt from a 3-inch wide swath. So, now you have a nice light strip with blackened cement on both sides. To clean a sidewalk slab is a laborious task of swaying washer wand back and forth over an area not much larger than this newspaper. Anything larger and you have increased the distance between the power stream and the surface with a proportionate decline in cleaning power.

It’s mindless, back and forth, spray soaking your legs, which wasn’t so bad this weekend, and sending flecks of dirt spotting the house. The problem is if done methodically, the result is so outstandingly that you can’t stop.

I knew what I was in for.

I go this way every couple of years when finally the shabby look of things gets to me. My sailing friend Claude introduced me to his power washer about 20 years ago. He brought over his 6-horsepower unit. I marveled at the results. A couple of years later, he loaned it to me again. This time I tackled the apron around the pool. I was making progress in a haze of mist, feeling good about how it was going, when the washer stopped abruptly. As I have recounted in this column, the washer was gone. There was no sign of it. The hose was there. I still held the wand. There was no hum of the gas engine, no sign of the two-wheeled device.

To my shock, the washer was setting in the bottom of the pool. It had vibrated across the apron and taken the plunge.

You don’t want to drop gas engines into the water, especially when they’re running.

I visited Harvey Davies down the street at Davies Service Center. He advised draining the gas and oil, removing the spark plug and air filter and blowing out the carburetor. It was good advice. The unit lived to power wash another day. In fact, Claude gave me the machine when he won a new one as a sales promotion from his company.

The once submersible power washer sprung to life after the third pull Saturday. She rattled and spray shot from where the wand joins the hose.

So what? It was hot and the water was refreshing.

When I reached the pool apron, I paid special attention. Indeed, she has an attraction to water. The vibrating machine was creeping ever so slowly to the pool.

I slid a couple of rocks under the wheels and went back to work.

Good thing I checked. In five minutes the washer shimmied past the rocks and was prepared to take a dip.

I pulled it away from the pool and retrieved a piece of 2-by-4, sliding it under the wheels. This time she wouldn’t be taking the dive.

The shock of seeing the power washer at the bottom of the pool is as clear as if it happened yesterday. I realized I would always think of that when I power wash.

That’s a good thing, not because I don’t want to have it happen again, which is definitely the case. But rather, the recollection brought a chuckle and, for what it’s worth, broke the boredom of a tedious task that I hope not to repeat for another two years.


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