It's that time of year again – time to start thinking about what your house is going to look like in the spring when the grass is growing, the flowers are blooming, and the sun starts spending more time in the sky.
We spend much of the winter stuck looking at the inside of our house, but now we need to consider what people see when they're looking at the outside. Whether you need to do some painting or even just clean off a layer of dirt, a thorough pressure washing is a great place to start.
If you've never used a pressure washer before, it can be a little intimidating. After all, the average pressure washer harnesses a lot of power. It can strip off dirt and paint from wood, metal, bricks... almost anything really. You do need to be careful, but if you follow a few easy guidelines, you'll be fine.
Tips on tips
Without the nozzles or tips to concentrate and direct the water, your pressure washer is just a fancy water pump. Some models include a variety of nozzles and some do not, so if you need to buy a nozzle, the first step is to decide what you're going to be cleaning. Types of nozzles can vary, but most of them will be labeled by angle and fall between angles of 0° and 40°.
Before you get started
Once you've got your pressure washer, you know how to use it, and you've figured out what nozzles you need, it's time to take a look at your workspace. These are fairly common sense guidelines, but it's a checklist worth looking at before getting too far along.
You're almost ready to get started, but before you start spraying the wall right next to the front door, you should test your setup on an inconspicuous part of the house. If the pressure is too high or you have the wrong nozzle attached, you're much better off learning that while cleaning the corner of the house around back behind the bushes than on the part you can see from the street. Also, keep in mind that just because the whole house was painted at the same time with the same paint, different parts may be harder to clean than others.
Get it done
Pressure washing is a quick way to thoroughly wash your house, your deck, and even your patio furniture. And it's easy enough for almost anyone to do themselves as long as you prepare and use proper caution.
Do you have a power washing routine that you can share with newcomers? Any tips that we haven't mentioned here?
Jay Harris, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, is a regular Home Depot blog contributor on outdoor projects and products. Jay's interests range from riding lawn mowers  to chainsaws .