Are you pondering putting your house up for sale? Have you recently purchased your home? Or do you take pride in the way the exterior of your home is perceived by passers-by?
Answering yes to any of the above questions means you are concerned with the upkeep and maintenance of the outside of your home, as well you should be. Within those walls and under the roof is what we typically see and regularly clean, but keeping the outside of the walls, roof, etc. in good repair is what will maintain and protect our home, as well as keep it from being the one the neighbors all grumble about. So let’s take a few minutes to examine some problem areas.

The exterior walls of our home are like the skin on our bodies. Just as skin serves as a protectorate against harmful elements, your home’s external surface shields it, and you, from the outside. The importance of keeping the outer walls in good shape is vital for the longevity of the home and for temperature control.

For starters, give the outside of your home a bath. How many times you may need to do this depends on your climate, location and the amount of dust kicked up by traffic. Generally, once a year should suffice. You may want to consider purchasing a pressure washer to get the job done quickly and easy. Look for a PSI (Pounds exerted per Square Inch) that has reasonable strength. Somewhere around 2,000 should do it. You’ll need that amount of pressure to shoot the stream up to the peaks of your home, but also be aware of turning down the pressure when it comes to the lower sections. Start from the top and work your way down. Thoroughly spray the underside of your roof overhang and soffets with your pressure washer to make sure that you release any dirt and debris, then ease your way to the lower portions.

Most concrete, vinyl siding, and wood surfaces are suitable for pressure washing. Avoid however, any stenciled or imprinted areas as the pressure of the spray can wash off the design. Turn down the pressure before blasting your windows too; a pane with a small crack could come apart all together. You will get great results power washing pavers and stone but you should be careful on sandstones, caulk and moldings, as the more powerful washers could do damage. If you have an older home, be aware that a powerful spray may actually eat into paint and groove your wood.

When in doubt about whether your particular surface is able to withstand the water pressure, it is a good idea to test a small area beforehand. Choose a section that is not very visible and see how that reacts to the spray. Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection, and wear non-slip shoes. You might decide a parka is in order; you’ll be getting wet.

You can use your pressure washer to clean those gutters too. Before you do, you will need to determine if there is too much debris clogging the gutters to simply wash it away. Check for any trees surrounding your residence. If you spot any pine trees, you’ll probably find that loads of needles are likely stuck within the spout. You might need to physically yank them out before you can use a hose or pressure washer. If the gutter is clogged, you can clean it out with a regular plumbing snake.

As you wash the exterior of your home, and while you’re on the roof cleaning out the gutters, you should also do a general inspection. Check your roofing tiles to make sure they are all in place. Look over the siding as well to make sure all is secure. Older homes might require a re-pointing of the concrete foundation, or some repair and or painting of the wooden exterior. If you have a chimney, be aware of any loose bricks or flashing that may have pulled off over the past year. This might be a good time to get rid of any bee or wasp nests, as well as to remove and clean out anything lurking behind your shutters.

Window cleaning will also be something you’ll need to spend a little time on. If you live in a northern location, you’ll probably want to take down and clean the storm windows and get the screens on for the nicer weather.

That is a good time to clean the window sashes as well. A garden hose will quickly clean the screens before you put them on; that unused little vacuum attachment will work too. Unless you want to stock up on Windex, you can clean all those windows with a vinegar and water solution.

After you’ve done the house, be sure to give your lawn and landscaping some attention. A home is accented nicely by a well-manicured lawn and some smart landscaping. But the opposite will also detract from your home. A clean exterior will not be as noticeable as the two-foot weeds growing out of your gardens. Landscaping, by the way, does not mean to clutter your lawn up with ornaments, fake deer, one-legged flamingoes, and hundreds of bird pools so that your law resembles the famed Roman baths. Less is much, much more. Please, on behalf of your neighbors, keep your lawns tasteful and gnomeless.

By following a good maintenance schedule and keeping the exterior of your home clean and in good repair, you will assure yourself that your investment grows in value and remains a source of pride to you and your family.