The Real Cost of 'Cheap, Affordable Pressure Washing' to a Stockbridge, Georgia Homeowner
Well, "Dave" is not his real name, but to protect the innocent, we'll pretend that it is. In the summer of 2018, Dave called us here at Cyclone Roof Cleaning & Pressure Washing a little frustrated. You see, he'd had his Stockbridge home's vinyl siding power washed very recently, but wasn't happy with the results. "It still looks dirty in places, mainly on one side of the home." This was intriguing to me. I wondered why he had agreed to pay the contractor when clearly he felt that the job was not done correctly, but politely of course, I wouldn't ask that question. What I did ask Dave was "where is it dirty? Just up high? All over? Just in the corners?", and he answered "well, pretty much, there are just these darker lines all up and down the siding, all over the wall."
Suddenly I was concerned. What Dave was describing did not sound like dirt that was left over after an inadequate cleaning. It sounded more like some kind of damage to the siding, and I had my prime suspect in mind. "Are we talking about the south side of your home? The wall that gets all the sun?" Dave confirmed my suspicion: "Yes, it would be the southern wall mostly." With that, I told him I'd be over at my earliest convenience to confirm what we were dealing with, and what - if anything - could be done to help him out.
After we hung up the phone, I checked his address and noticed that he was located in the same Stockbridge neighborhood where I'd done some work recently. A few weeks earlier I'd been working in there, and noticed 3 or 4 homes with obvious siding damage, very much like what Dave was describing. At the time, I immediately recognized the damage as the effect of high pressure on the oxidized vinyl surface. You see, as siding ages, the paint layer oxidizes in the blazing Georgia sun - it breaks down and becomes powdery, leaving a very matte look to the surface. If you run your fingers along the siding, the color will come off onto your fingertips, and you will have left a permanent mark on the siding. It's one of the reasons a low-pressure house wash is essential. High pressure will disturb the oxidized layer, leaving permanent wand-marks. Even a low-pressure wash needs to be carried out with extreme care so as not to disturb this oxidized layer. In any case, the HOA for his particular Stockbridge neighborhood had recently sent out notices to many residents to warn them of the fines they would incur if they didn't get their dirty siding cleaned, and so as a result, we had received a number of calls from homeowners needing service. For a few of these calls, our prices had been higher than other quotes they'd received, so they declined our services. But some, recognizing that we'd take good care of their property, hired us - and it was while serving those customers that I noticed all the other homes with recently cleaned - but damaged - siding.
Assessing The Damage
As I pulled up to Dave's home in Stockbridge, I almost didn't need to get out of the truck: it was obvious that Dave too was a victim of careless workmanship. As I spoke with Dave and let him explain how the other contractor had cleaned his siding, it became apparent that this contractor was - commendably, it should be noted - trying to employ a low-pressure technique. They were in fact using soaps to do the cleaning. That's a good thing! They were not simply blasting away the dirt with high pressure. Likely, they also advertized their methods as such: as safe "low pressure house washing" - giving homeowners the confidence to hire them for a risk-free wash of their house. And yet, due to what was obviously a gaping hole in their knowledge and/or technique, they had still caused damage. It was a real shame. I asked Dave if he had tried to get the contractor to come back and try to remedy the problem, but he said they were no longer answering his calls. As my mind went through the many homes I'd seen in the neighborhood with damaged siding, I could only imagine how inundated with calls of complaint the contractor must have been. Again, a real shame.
But of course, I was not there to simply commiserate with Dave and shake my head with him. I was there to help him out, and fortunately, I had a solution. So I told him: "Dave, the good news is that I have a way to fix your siding by stripping off the entire oxidized layer from this wall of your house. It will even-out the appearance of the siding, and hopefully look as good as new. The bad news is that it's very labor-intensive, since I'll have to scrub every square inch of siding with a specialized oxidation-removing chemical." I figured out the price for him, and for just this one wall, the total was probably double what he had paid the other contractor to clean his entire house. "Let's do it" was Dave's simple reply.
The rest of the story is pretty uneventful. At the scheduled time I returned and restored the vinyl siding on his Stockbridge house. The job went according to plan, and Dave was delighted with the results. The siding was shiny and even once again! Deep down, he must have realized that his only alternative would have been complete siding replacement, which made our restoration process a bargain by comparison. But still, I'm sure there was a part of him that wished he'd just called us in the first place. Not surprisingly, once the job was complete, Dave mentioned that the next time his siding needed to be cleaned, he would be calling us.
The Moral Of The Story
So what's the moral of this story? Well, it's that "cheap, affordable pressure washing" can often incur other unforseen costs. Is a homeowner expected to know everything that can go wrong while washing their house? Are they supposed to know about oxidation, the amount of sun each wall receives, the possible chemical reaction between one solution and another, the correct amount of pressure for each substrate, possible water-intrusion routes and/or electrical risks? No. Homeowners have too many other things to worry about. But your power washing contractor needs to know about all of those things, and plan (and price) accordingly. And if things do go wrong, as they can with any company which employs imperfect humans - Cyclone included - a reputable contractor will stand behind their work and make things right, no matter the cost. In our philosophy, there is never an excuse to not answer the phone for a customer who has paid you money to do a job. If you break something, you replace it. If you didn't finish the job correctly, you go back and finish it. If something catastrophic happens, you call your insurance company and take care of it. And if after all of that, you simply can't leave the homeowner in a satisfied state? Well then you give back the money you took from them.
Are you looking for a power washing company you can trust to deliver this kind of service? Why not click the online estimate button at the top of this page to get your free quote? We look forward to showing why we really think that Cyclone is "Your Smartest Option."
Written by: Chris Kinny
October 2nd, 2018
Cyclone Roof Cleaning & Pressure Washing