Posts filed under ‘Fix It’

Bail out

Just wanted to get this out quick because it’s the best summary I’ve seen this week …

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) 09.26.08 – As negotiations continue over the proposed $700 billion bailout of the nation’s financial system, Dr. Mark Dotzour, chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, offers his perspective:

“It’s a sad day in America when the federal government (the American taxpayer) has to bail out homeowners who purchased homes they couldn’t possibly afford. It’s sad because of the vast majority of Americans who live within their means and pay their mortgages on time are now being asked to pay for other people’s mistakes.

“It’s a sad day in America when we have to spend billions to bail out financial institutions that made loans to those people, then sold those loans to pension funds and endowment associations that had no idea of the risk they were taking when they bought the ‘complex and sophisticated’ bonds. ‘Complex and sophisticated’ is just a euphemism for ‘I have no earthly idea what I’m buying.’

“Now for the pragmatism. If we don’t bail out the banks, the American economy grinds to a halt. Many U.S. businesses are financed with short-term notes that mature in 90 to 180 days. This is called commercial paper. What happens when your 90-day note matures, and nobody will refinance it? Just ask Fannie and Freddie, who had $225 billion in short-term notes mature and nobody would refinance them. Hasta la vista. The commercial paper market is virtually frozen, and many businesses are in the same boat as Frannie was.

“The smartest people working in the global financial system say that this $700 billion is a good first step, that it might help to thaw the frozen credit markets but that the devil is in the details. Some say it might take another $500 billion later.

“The fact is that there is a market for these bad loans. It’s about 22 cents on the dollar. The problem is that nobody wants to sell for that price as long as the taxpayers will pay a higher price. So the federal government will buy these assets for a higher price, and it’s possible that they can sell them later and make a profit. It’s possible that the net cost to the taxpayer will be very little. The bottom line is that we are in uncharted waters, and this $700 billion plan is the best plan that seems to have some hope of temporarily solving the problem.

“The long-term problem is still on the table, and that is the simple fact that the U.S. government can’t keep spending more money than it has. Even governments can go bankrupt. The long-term solution for the U.S. government and every American household is to live within their means.

“Who is going to want to invest in mortgage bonds in the future if the federal government can freeze the interest rates below what was promised? Who is going to want to invest in mortgage bonds if the government can cram down the principal on the bonds you bought? Until the federal government can restore some confidence in the global investment community that if you buy a mortgage bond you have a reasonable certainty of getting your principal and the promised interest, the problems will linger.

“The bailout is inevitable and has to happen. Expect more to come. These are just bandages on a gaping wound. Hopefully lessons will be learned, and we will begin to address the illness and not just put on more bandages.”


September 26, 2008 at 8:03 pm 1 comment

Thinking tankless?

By our favorite South Austin contributor–Patti P. 

One night last week I planned on cooking pasta for dinner—knowing what time the family would most likely be home and ready to pounce on their plates—and being that it was my turn to cook—I started the big pot of pasta water before everyone was home and let it simmer on the stove, figuring I could turn up the flame as soon as the front door opened to get the pot to a rolling boil quickly.  Thus dinner would be served, consumed, cleaned up in record time and we could hop right on to evening events. 


Instead of being an organized time saver, I unwisely wasted quite a bit of energy keeping that pot of pasta water on simmer.  Yep, I’m a noodle head in more ways than one. 


But simmering that pot of water is no different than the traditional water heater that you probably have in your house.  It keeps your water heated 24 hours a day—when you’re sleeping and even when you’re not home.   Wasting energy?  Yep you are.  Which may make you a noodle head too. 


An energy efficient but not necessary economical alternative to those continuously heating water tanks is the tankless or “demand” water heater that has been common in Japan and Europe and has gained some popularity in the U.S. since the “go green” movement started leafing out in the early 1990’s.   


Tankless water heaters heat water on demand with a heating device that kicks in when a flow of water goes across the internal sensors (you’ve opened the hot water valve).  The flow sensors turn off when the flow detector detects that you’ve turned off the hot water valve.  Tankless water heaters are about the size of a briefcase; no storage heater with drip pan needed.   


Traditional storage water heaters rise and maintain hot water temperature and have to turn on sporadically to store and maintain your set temperature 24/7.  And they are much much bigger than a briefcase. 


There’s a plethora of information out there on tankless water heaters, and the pros and cons differ depending on whether the source of information is a green energy company, a utility provider, a consumer organization or a tankless water heater manufacturer.  To help you decide if going tankless is for you, I’ve combined all the major pros and cons from the sources above and will leave it to you to weigh your “greens”: energy savings vs. green dollars. 


Tankless pros:  energy, baby

·     Tankless heaters run by cleaner* renewable gas (with electronic ignitions) use about 20% less energy than traditional gas run storage water heaters based on an average usage of 78 gallons of hot water a day (which is about 3 showers, 1 laundry load, running dishwasher once and the faucet 9 times).  Does this reflect your typical household usage?  This percentage of savings is according to the October 2008 issue of consumer reports.  Manufacturers tend to claim 30%-50% energy savings, and the green guide comes in at 34% (which is the average of all claims above).  *Cleaner than electricity. 

·     Tankless do not have energy “standby” losses which can represent 10-20% of a typical household’s annual water heating costs.  Standby loss means that traditional storage heaters have to keep heating water in the tank as it cools off. 

·     Tankless take up only a small space: again the size of a briefcase as opposed to a small water holding silo.  Great feature for smaller house living. 

·     With a tankless you don’t have a huge tank of water sitting in your house with a drip pan underneath…and drip pans are for… 

·     Tankless are less likely to leak or rupture (good news if your water heater is in your attic like my last one was). 

·     Reportedly tankless are less prone to mineral and sediment build up—which makes sense because you’re not storing up water. 

·     Once the tankless water senses the hot water faucet is turned on, you’ll have a limitless supply of hot water (based on your water wise conscience and ability to pay for the gas that is heating your water). 

·     Tankless last about 20 years vs. 10 years for a traditional storage heater (helping to cut down on waste in the landfills). 

·     You can save $70-$80 a year on your household energy bill (based on conventional bill of $200 a year for gas storage heater and $450 for an electric storage heater).  

·     You may be able to qualify for utility company rebates and state tax credits by installing a tankless heater.  Go to  This is a data base of state incentives for renewable energy. 

·     The greenguide says that tankless can provide hot water in as little as 5 seconds as opposed to 30 seconds that it takes some storage heaters to send that warm liquid your way.  Some consumer reports contradict this statement (which is coming up in the cons…)

Tankless cons: green conscience vs. green dollars 

  • Upfront costs for a tankless water heater are high: $800-$1,500 compared to $300-$400 for traditional storage tanks.  The greenguide tested what they claim to be the most efficient systems and these run as high as $3,920 down to $850 depending on size of house and proximity of main tankless to farther faucets/bathrooms.   
  • Installation costs run around $1,200 (compared to $300 for a storage water heater) because tankless need electrical outlets for the fan & internal electronics, upgraded gas pipes and a new ventilation system.   
  • OK, based on the cited initial costs of installing a tankless, it would take you about 22 years to recoup your initial investment (which might be superfluous at this point as tankless have a life expectancy of 20 years. 
  • In order to have enough water available on demand, you may have to have a central unit for the house and then additional POU “point of use” units installed in bathrooms and farther faucet.
  • You may find inconsistent hot water temperatures with an on demand water heater; e.g. if you just need a tiny trickle of water so you can shave, there may not be enough water passing over the internal sensors of the tankless heater to know to start heating.  So, in this case you could end up wasting water by letting the faucet run at a higher rate just to get hot water to lather up your mug. 
  • The faster the flow of water, however, that passes over the internal sensors the less time the water spends in the heating element.  So, particularly in the shower, you may find yourself mixing some cold and some hot water until you can fine tune the temperature.  Could take a little practice.   
  • And, this is where my eyes started glazing over with facts and figures: depending on your ground water temperature for your area (no I do not know mine) your tankless may not deliver sufficient hot water if the ground water is cold.  Like in Vermont where hairdryers are used more for thawing frozen pipes than they are for creating high hairdos.   


So, there you have it.  The pros and cons of going tankless.  If saving energy is important you, the expense may be worth it.  If you want to take baby steps toward saving energy—insulate your current water heater well and reduce your use of hot water. 


Thanks for reading.  Patti P.




September 23, 2008 at 2:25 am 4 comments

Repair Chronicles #4: Clog blog (in the slab, baby!)

I closed on an investment property in Austin on February 13th. The property was a 1960’s house in north/central Austin, Jamestown area. It had been inspected and there was nothing that presented a red flag on the inspection report. The property appeared to be move-in ready.

On February 14, I was doing a little painting and decided to run the drapes through the wash. Next thing I knew I was ankle deep in water in the laundry room. I immediately called my home warranty and they sent a plumber. I initially thought it was a clogged drain and I would be done to the tune of my $60 co-pay. After 4 hours of trying, the clog remained and it was evident that the problem was a clogged trap, in the slab. Ugh.

I got another company, we’ll call them D Plumbing, to do a diagnostic on the line. Not all plumbers do this type of diagnostic and D came qualified and recommended. They pulled the toilet, checked the lines to the street and all appeared fine. They too tried to unclog the pipe with no luck. They too said it was a clogged trap. They could not use the camera in the washer line so they used another diagnostic test to locate the trap in the slab. The machine acted somewhat like a metal detector and found where the end of the auger stopped which indicated where the clog was. So we needed bids to jackhammer the slab in the living room to reach the clog and replace the trap.

The next several days I got several bids in the range of $2-5k. I had D Plumbing mark the spot that they said the trap was in so if I used another company, they would be able to locate it. After trying to get the D to get me on their schedule to do the work, they were not able to give me a definite time frame and were very rude on the phone. I explained the urgency with the tenant moving in but they were not willing to work with me in any way.

I found another person, a contractor, through the realtor and friend who was the selling agent on the property to get her plumber over there. I had a tenant moving in in 2 weeks and was getting nervous about getting the job finished so I had to move fast. I could not wait on D who was giving me the run around.

The 2nd plumbers worked for 3 days jack hammering and digging in the area that D indicated the trap was in. The hole was so deep and wide, three people could have climbed inside but no trap was there. I finally called D and explained that the plumbers could not find the pipe anywhere. Mr. D himself was completely rude and uncooperative and accused the plumbers of not knowing what they were doing and that’s what we get for not dealing with professionals etc. After numerous calls and emails to D including pictures of the hole and taped area where they said the trap was, they finally agreed to come back over. After coming over and doing the test again, they found the trap 6 feet in another direction. 6 feet! So the jack hammering began again, only this time D was doing it. Two holes in the living room floor.

It gets worse. During their digging, the D plumbers hit a water line just below the slab. And even worse, D plumbing refused to fix the water break that they created. Incredible. My contractor and the lead man came to verbal blows over it outside. D refused and left. There we were with not only two holes in the floor, but a water leak to boot. About an hour later, D called back and said they would send a man over to fix it. 3 hrs later and a lot of welding, the pipe was fixed. My plumbers, however, could not afford the time they were spending digging holes and not finding a pipe, so they quit the job. My contractor, Julie, hung in there with me and found another plumber to do the job.

The entire time, Julie kept saying this was the reason she started her own company because she was tired of dealing with the D’s out there and folks needed and deserved to work with trustworthy people. Julie was my advocate and stuck with the project out of principle … she knew I needed her.

The 3rd plumber completed the digging and sawed the trap out. Ironically, the trap was not clogged. The clog was in another area of the pipe. Unreal.

He put in a new pipe and unclogged the area that was clogged. They cut into the drywall behind the washer to put in a vent. Homes in the 60’s put traps in the foundation to keep the sewage fumes from entering the house. Therefore, when the trap was replaced with a straight pipe, a vent needed to be added and it was easy to do in the wall behind the washer.

If I had it all to do over I would have run the washing machine a few full cycles during the inspection (this is not typically done by inspectors, so I recommend you attend the inspection and run the washer a few times yourself) … especially homes built in this era that have cast iron pipes running through the slab.

The contractor, Julie, who owns a business called Hard Working Women definitely worked hard to see the job through. D Plumbing on the other hand was not only significantly incorrect with their diagnosis of both the clogged trap and the location of the trap, but they were extremely rude and hard to deal with. I am still considering reporting them to the better business bureau.

I spent a day dusting and cleaning and working on the carpet so it looked like nothing ever took place under the carpet. The new tenant moved in 2 days later and all is well. The project cost was about $3500. We did get the sellers to pay for a portion of the repair.

Kay – austin, tx

This is an ongoing series of homeowner insight & advice on repairs, upgrades, & add-ons, sometimes do-it-yourself (DIY), sometimes not, chronicling what went well, what did not go so well and advice for the rest of us. Please feel free to submit your repair chronicle to the … we would love to hear your stories and advice. If you wish to submit, please follow this format: (Oh, and we reserve the right to edit and publish or not publish as we see fit. By submitting to the TNPBlog Repair Chronicles, you agree that we can edit or publish and/or not publish as we see fit.)



© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

July 7, 2008 at 6:26 pm 1 comment

Thatch is for huts not for lawns…

By our favorite South Austin contributor-Patti P.

Gasp; let your soil breathe already…sheesh.


Having ears like radar, dragging hoses across our Austin lawn this weekend I swear I heard little gasping noises coming out of my grass.  And I was totally sober.  Once I determined the little wheezers weren’t coming from the hose or my not so little bowsers, I started to leap like a gazelle with thighs across the rest of the lawn in fear that thatch was going to link around my ankles and wrestle me to the ground leaving my husband to find me tied to the lawn like Gulliver (picture a smaller Gullivette in a pretty embroidered tunic—thank you).


Making it to the garage I turned on the computer and quickly “wikied” what might make my soil gasp.  I quickly came to the conclusion that I’m suffering from compaction & thatch.  My soil that is.   Serious problem with a semi-simple cure.  Read on.  Especially if you’re looking for a greener lawn to frame your home which you’re getting ready to put on this competitive real estate market for sale…


Thatch is meant for huts not lawns.

Thatch is usually dried botanical material (straw, reeds, rushes or heathers) layered on roofs to shed water from material that lies below.  So if you have thatch (layers of live & not so live organic material lying between your semi-green grass and the soil surface) it’s going to be very hard for any precious water, nutrients and vital air to penetrate the thatch and feed your soil.  Thus the audible gasping.


How do you know you have thatch? 

Moisten a patch of lawn (don’t make it WET, just moist) and wiggle a screwdriver down into the soil.  If the screwdriver goes down a few inches with ease, you’re probably thatch less and don’t need to read on…oh but do.  I promise to entertain as I love your company.


OK, you’re still with me.  Which means I’m wicked persuasive and/or you tried the screwdriver test and it did not penetrate the soil easily.  Did you hear the gasping too?  You have thatch and most likely compacted soil. 


In Austin, summer is the time to treat the thatch on St. Augustine and Bermuda grass, so make some lemonade, put on your best brimmed sun hat and get to work; preferably early in the morning when soil is just moist—again not wet—if you work with wet soil, you’ll just make compacted soil balls.


Notes to the compulsive and short-cutters:


DON’T try MORE water as over watering probably caused your compaction and thatch in the first place.  Once your lawn is compacted water will just run off to your least favorite neighbor’s yard or the street (wasteful) and hits you in your wallet.


DON’T add more fertilizer as this probably caused your grass to grow too fast, thus the compaction and gasping for air.  Your grass is suffering from a post- Thanksgiving dinner.


DO go to your favorite gardening center (mine is the Natural Gardener in Austin) and purchase a sod corer for $25.


What is a sod corer?

A sod corer looks a like an aluminum pitchfork except a corer has only two tines and they are hollow.  This lightweight corer has a bar above the hollow tines where you can place your foot to push the corer down into the moist soil.  The hollow tines push up tubes of soil just like a play dough maker pushes out stars and hearts and moons.  Leave the little tubes of soil lying on top of the lawn and keep moving along pushing up more tubes.  It is kind of meditative or at least brings you back to good Play dough memories…as long as you didn’t eat the stuff. 


Note: if you are trying to “aerify” a large lawn you may want to consider renting a commercial rotary sod corer at your local hardware store.  I’m going to continue with my Play dough/aluminum manual sod corer as I don’t want to spew gas or pay for gas to allow my lawn to breathe.


Benefits of using the sod corer:

  1. your lawn will breathe again because you are loosening up compacted soil
  2. the corer will make nice breathing holes in the compaction and thatch
  3. coring will stimulate new grass growth & will save you $$$ by reducing water running off
  4. your lawn will start to look lush as the corer cuts through roots; just like a starfish, the grass will quickly grow back new “arms” to cover any open spaces


So, liberate your grass this Fourth of July!  Let it breathe!  Drop us a line and let us know how your coring fared.  Thanks for reading–Patti P.

© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

July 1, 2008 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Repair Chronicle # 3: Refinishing Wood Floors

This is an ongoing series of homeowner insight & advice on repairs, upgrades, & add-ons, sometimes do-it-yourself (DIY), sometimes not, chronicling what went well, what did not go so well and advice for the rest of us. Please feel free to submit your repair chronicle to the … we would love to hear your stories and advice. If you wish to submit, please follow this format: (Oh, and we reserve the right to edit and publish or not publish as we see fit. By submitting to the TNPBlog Repair Chronicles, you agree that we can edit or publish and/or not publish as we see fit.)

Repair Chronicle # 3: Refinishing Wood Floors

Q1. What was the scope of your project?
The carpet in our home was getting old and worn out so we decided to tear it up and replace it with new carpet. When we ripped the carpet up we discovered that the original floors were hard wood floors. It didn’t take long to know why the carpet was put down because the original flooring was worn, stained and scratched up pretty bad. Still the thought of having hard wood floors was very appealing so we decided to refinish the wood floors.

Q2. What was the general budget (initial)?
Since our original plan was to re-carpet our home we had about $5,000.00 put back for this project.

Q3. How close did you land on budget?
The money we had put back for carpet was enough to cover the expense of refinishing the wood floors with a little to spare.

Q4. $ for $, what was the best money spent?
The wood floor sander was our best investment. We would have never been able to complete this project without it. They rent for approximately $100 and can be found at most any equipment rental shop. We rented the traditional drum sander which worked very well.

When using one of these sanders you have to remember to keep it moving at all times. If they are left in one spot they will put a groove in the floor so deep you will never be able to remove it. If you have never used a hardwood floor sander before, make sure you get a demonstration on how they work to avoid having problems later and always keep the sander moving in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Never, ever sand across the grain! Go over the floor first with heavy-grit sandpaper until all the scratches and stains are removed. After this you need to go over it again with light-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish.

Q5. $ for $, what was money not well spent?
We started out with a liquid floor stripper because we were told that this would strip off the finish fast and easy but we soon found that this was not true. It may be good for a small spot but not for a whole floor. It was very hard to use and made a big mess. It was not worth the money we spent on it and we still ended up renting a floor sander.

Q6. If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?
Hire a professional. It was more work than I would have liked to put into it.

Q7. Advice for the rest of us?
It’s harder than you think.

It takes time and patience. You will need to start by taking all the furniture out of the room. Next, make sure there are no nails or carpet tacks left in the flooring; inspect it well.

Get your supplies before you get started so that you don’t have to run out in the middle of working to buy sandpaper or more stain. Don’t forget the dust masks.

Once the sanding has been completed you have to decide if you want to stain the floor or use a clear coat to protect it while maintaining the natural color tone of the wood. We chose the clear coat. Whichever you choose to use make sure that the floors are completely clear of debris before you begin this process. Any dust or debris in the floor will dry in the stain or clear coat and cannot be removed without repeating the process.

Don’t forget about ventilation because these products can be really strong and breathing in the fumes is bad for your health. With stains you may need to apply more than one coat to get the desired color you are after.

Q8. Was there a contractor, plumber, electrician, innocent bystander who deserves an oscar for best performance?
Our two children deserve an Oscar for convincingly encouraging us that we could complete this project with excellent results and for supplying us with something cold to drink.

Q9. What’s next on your list?
I want to replace my old windows with new energy saving ones.

Q10. Your name or alias? Your neighborhood?
Lisa, Copperas Cove


© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

May 9, 2008 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Power washing is too much pressure!

By our favorite South Austin contributor–Patti P.

I have a really hard time aiming a leaf blower in the right direction.  My last attempt sent leaves blowing backwards up against our window screens.  And, yep, the windows were wide open.  While the dogs on the inside got a kick out of snuffing up & identifying all the lovely leaf particles plastered on the screens (“Yo, Dusty, Rikki the spaniel left her calling card on our lawn-woo hoo!” ) I aimed the blower toward the sky and yelped for help. 

So when I recently entertained the idea of renting a power washer to scrub the exterior of our home, my husband replied (and with kindness), “are you nuts?”  Hmmm, no, not nuts but we both know I am dyslexic (right is left, back is forward, off is on and up is down…) so being armed with a power washer kicking out water at 2500 PSI (pounds per square inch) would definitely be a little too much pressure for my cross-wired noggin. 

But since I’ve already researched quite a bit about power washing, I shall pass some good tidbits on to you–the DIY’er who is without directional challenges and a possesses a phlethora of common sense.

Why power wash your home? Well, why exfoliate your face?  According to power washing experts, grit on the exterior of your home can “grind away like sandpaper in the wind & rain”.  Ouch.   So whether your goal is to rid your house of cobwebs, bird doo, mold & mildew to give it a face lift and make sparkling ready for sale or just performing regular maintenance, power washing sounds like a must-do.

Planning on doing it yourself? Some important tips:

1.You can use a power washer on houses made of stone, granite, bricks, steel, aluminum and vinyl…but be especially careful if using on wood-sided homes.  Be sure your wood is wood and a hard wood at that.  Cedar can be too soft, and fiber board would surely look like swiss cheese after a few well aimed water shots.  If your house is sided with horizontal slats, don’t spray the water under the slats–you’ll end up lifting them right up (and maybe off!). If your house is hard wood and painted, be very very careful to move the hose along the house; don’t hold the spray gun at one point for extended periods–this is how contractors REMOVE paint from homes for repainting!  Have lead paint?  Call in a professional for safe removal.

2. Use a power washer that sprays between 1800-2500 PSI (again, pounds per square inch).  You can go a little lower than 1800, but lower than 1200 won’t do the trick and higher than 2500 has potential to blast holes in your house.  To give you an idea of the pressure behind these pounds, your average garden hose flows at 60 PSI.

3. You’ll experience some recoil from the water pressure so you’ll need your feet planted firmly on the terra. Don’t ever stand on a ladder using the power washer.  I’m serious.

4. Power washers filled with clear water (and not mixed with chemical cleaners) will still do a good job of cleaning your house.  You certainly would not want to drench your lawn & shrubs around the house with any chemical cleaner coming out of the power washer.  Even using just clear water, you may want to put some plastic cloths over any tender plants near your foundation…(but you know here in Texas not to be planting right up to your foundation, don’t you?).  Another “Don’t”: never put bleach in the power washer–it can damage parts of the washer.

5. In Austin, you have to use a cold water power washer.  Because we live on Aquifer recharge zones (natural underground water resources: see  hot water power washers are reportedly illegal–the hot water releases too much dirt into the sewer systems.  Using a hot water power washer in Austin is reportedly a fineable offense at the tune of $10,000 fine to the contractor (if you hired someone to do it) and another $10,000 fine to you–the hiree or homeowner.   Hint: if you are dead set on using hot water in your power washer in Austin, you can ONLY use hot water with a filtration system (that removes the dirt before the drainage heads for the sewers).  You’d have to be really compulsive though as filtratrion systems cost about $4,000.  And you’d have to be really hard hearted to let hot water pour down on your plants & shrubs.  So hot water in Austin is only for the compulsive and cold hearted and deep pocketed.

6. Never point the power washing wand (it’s not Darth Vader time) at a person or animal.  Again, I’m deadly serious.  (Notice how I switch from puns to severity?  It’s not intended to make your head spin, and I sincerely hope you can keep up…)

7. DO NOT operate the power washer close to overhead power lines–stay at least 10 feet away, and have a buddy with you to ensure you are clear of power lines at all times.  I lost a high school buddy who tried working alone after school–he died instantly when his machinery touched a low power line.

8. Prepare first:

  • Cover all electrical outlets & avoid outdoor lighting fixtures–water in the fixtures could cause a short circuit and you could blast holes in glass fixtures.  Use plastic bags over your light fixtures and seal good with duct tape.
  • Take off all shutters (and watch out for spiders and wasps when removing).
  • Seal any tiny holes in the exterior of your home.
  • Notice any black spots on your exterior?  Test it first with some bleach.  If the black spot fades, then you have mold(a blasted fungus that I am becoming all too familiar with–in my nose, not my house).  In the case of correctly identified mold, you’ll have to get out goggles, repirator mask, rubber gloves, bleach/water, wear funky clothes or put a plastic garbage bag over your clothing, and grab a scrub brush.  If your test reveals that the black spot does NOT fade, then you just have dirt which can be removed with the power washer.
  • Practice BEFORE you attempt to wash the house–use the driveway (without cars & kids) as a practice ground.  Start with lowest pressure until you get the handle…

9. Ready to wash? (I so admire you!).  Make sure you pick a good day (not a windy day). Back away 3-4 feet and use a downward spray (a 15-25 degree nozzle reportedly is best).  Start power washing from the bottom and work your way up.  And, no, this is not a misprint.  I admit my cross-wired brain had to question this method for a minute.  When you wash from bottom up you eliminate all the dirty streaks that would come streaming down your house siding.  When you’re ready to rinse, THEN you wash from the top down.  If you have used any detergent in your washer (make sure it’s biodegradable and kind to people, plants & pets) you need to rinse within 10 minutes.

10. Oh, and never spray at your windows or you’ll soon be like little house on the prairie (with quaint little calico fabric pieces waving in the breeze in place of your former glass windows).

Whew!  Think you can handle the pressure? 

Best of luck to you with your power washing project.  Please be safe and use your head.  If you rent the washer, make sure you get a complete demonstration before taking it home.  Me?  I’m destined to call in the professionals.  And if you have any hesitation at all–please consult a professional.  Thanks for reading.  Patti P. 

© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

April 30, 2008 at 1:09 pm 27 comments

Did you know?




According to Remodeling magazine’s 20th annual Cost vs. Value Report, the top five midrange home improvements that bring the greatest returns are: a wood deck addition (85.4 percent); siding replacement (83.2 percent); minor kitchen remodel (83 percent); window replacement (81.2 percent); and vinyl window replacement (79.3 percent). For more information, go to


Source: The Residential Specialist magazine


April 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

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© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2016-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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