6 Tips For A Stress-Free Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

The summer months are the time of the year when you want to enjoy your home, not have to fix it up! However, some things need to be addressed before fall rolls in. Also, some of these simple tasks can help you enjoy both the inside and outside of your home more.

Below we’ve provided 6 stress-free summer home maintenance tips for you to consider. If you keep on top of your home maintenance checklist you’ll have plenty of time to sit by the pool and have BBQs this summer! Let’s get started.

Read more

How to choose a contractor to pressure wash your driveway

If you’re tired of the dirty mold, mildew, and oil stains on your driveway, then listen closely…

For this article, we interviewed Jared Harris of Blue Monkey Pressure Washing to get his tips for how to choose someone to pressure wash your driveway. We talked about:

  • How dangerous a pressure washer can be in the wrong hands.
  • Why your driveway will look AWFUL in only 3-4 months if the contractor you hire to pressure wash it skips any of these four steps.
  • The minimum amount of liability insurance you should require from your driveway washing company.
  • What important department do 99% of pressure washers not have for their business?

Jared begin pressure washing back in 1995 and selected the name “Blue Monkey” because he says it’s easy for people to remember! We asked Jared to tell us what our readers should look for in a service that will clean their concrete driveways.

He listed a few tips:

  • Check that they have proper insurance
  • Look into their customer service record
  • Ask them about their process – insist on an experienced technician
  • Research the company

1. Let’s talk about the importance of proper insurance.

Jared advises that pressure washers should have a $1 million liability policy for their business. In fact, he said it’s the standard for the pressure washing industry. He also suggested looking at a copy of the insurance policy to make sure it’s valid and up-to-date.

Why is insurance so important? Here’s a list of possibilities that could happen to your house when you hire the wrong driveway pressure washing company. A pressure washer in the wrong hands can:

  • Blast paint off your siding and trim.
  • Blow stucco off your exterior.
  • Blow your brick mortar joints out.
  • Kill the plants in your garden.
  • Cause streaks on your finish.
  • Remove the sand face from your bricks.
  • Remove the finish from fancy doorknobs.
  • Wreak havoc inside your house if there is an open window.
  • Hurt your pets or children.

What about accidents with ladders? “Thankfully you don’t need a ladder to power wash a driveway,” Jared said. “However, sometimes a homeowner will ask you to wash their roof while you’re there already. The good news is that 95% of the time no ladders are required to wash a roof. This limits the danger of someone falling off a ladder, or a ladder falling on a car or your house. But an inexperienced power washer may not understand this. Take the time to hire an experienced contractor.”

“The chemicals used to clean your driveway and decks are very slippery,” Jared said. “That’s why we always place caution signs when working at the customer’s home. All it takes is a visitor slipping or one of your children slipping and [they could] fall down the stairs.”

This is another reason to make sure that the service you use to pressure wash your driveway has liability insurance.

2. Ask them about their method for cleaning your driveway.

What chemical will they use? “If they are not excited about telling you, then be wary about hiring them,” Jared said. Being an educated consumer is your best defense when working with contractors.

Jared continued, “Did you know that concrete can be damaged with a high-pressure water stream? Some concrete is softer than others depending on the concrete, sand, and water combination. The problem with do-it-yourselfers that use a Home Depot pressure washer is that a 3000 psi,  three gallons of water per minute machine does the exact opposite of what you want your machine to do. For example, let’s talk about mold. Inexperienced concrete washers will try to blast with a high-pressure stream of water. Mold is not killed with power but by bleach chemicals. You want to provide a high volume of water with low pressure to get your driveway clean. You want to kill the mold… not blast it.”

Another question you should consider is the temperature of the water they’ll be using. “While hot water is usually not necessary to wash your house when the temperature is 60° to 70°F, hot water does come in handy when cleaning concrete,” Jared said. “Your concrete is full of mold, mildew, and dark oil stains. Hot water allows us to use less chemicals.”

Jared explained, “Most people think of concrete as being hard. Did you know that concrete actually acts like a big sponge? Mold spores collectively darken your concrete, turning it gray, black, and green. It’s embedded in your concrete so it cannot be blasted out by water. If you try to do so, it’ll damage the surface of your driveway.”

Jared shared four key pressure wash steps to clean a concrete driveway properly:

  1. Pre-treat the driveway with hot water, then apply chemicals and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Surface clean the driveway and check for mold spores.
  3. Rinse with water.
  4. Post-treat any mold spots that are giving you trouble.

Why is it important to do all the steps? “Either take your time now or your driveway will look bad again within three or four months from now,” Jared said.

That leads us to the next question.

3. What kind of customer service do they offer?

“Most power washers are a one-man show,” Jared said. He explained that many people just pressure wash for some extra cash. What are the odds you’re going to be able to get someone to talk to you when you have a problem then? What are the odds of getting them to come back to fix something that was not done correctly?

“That’s why we have a real customer service department. They address all customer problems and concerns. You get to talk to a real live person that will return your phone call. So, you should hire a driveway pressure washing company that has a customer service department.”

4. Take the time to research the company.

Look for their online reviews. Check Google, Yelp, or Angie’s List. What you want to look for is how attentive they were to detail. Did they follow through on what they said?

5. Any tips for those that might be inclined to do it themselves?

Jared warned, “Remember to use eye protection since you’re working with caustic chemicals. Wear safety boots so that the chemicals don’t leach through your sneakers and burn your feet. Never point the pressure washer at someone else. Water at high pressure speed can act like a knife and cut through your skin.”

It’ll cost you $85 to rent a pressure washer from Home Depot. Then you’ll have to buy the right chemicals. After learning the facts and dangers associated with it, many see the value in hiring a professional driveway cleaner to pressure wash their driveway. If you would like a free quote to power wash your concrete driveway in Atlanta, please feel free to contact Jared through his website.

We hope you have found these tips helpful! Look out for more articles in our pressure washing series on our blog.

Need insurance? Great! We’ve got a lot of it. Home, auto, renters, business, life – take your pick! Just fill out our quick quote form or give us a call today and we’ll help you get the coverage that you need at the best possible rate. We’re here to help!

How to choose a business to pressure wash your wood deck or fence

If you’re looking to pressure wash your grungy deck or fence then you will enjoy this article.

Today we talk with Dustin of Dustin’s Pressure Washing in Gwinnett County, Ga.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The common mistake made that can splinter your deck’s boards
  • Why it’s important to communicate your expectations with your deck cleaner before they start
  • How to prevent streaking on the boards of your wooden deck
  • The benefits of NOT using chemicals to clean your deck
  • Where to go to do your research before selecting someone to work with

Dustin has been pressure washing homes for 15 years. He started as a young man wanting to have a small after school job. He pressure washed a house for a lady in his neighborhood and he was hooked for life. Dustin revealed the importance of understanding these things before choosing a deck power washing contractor:

  • Setting expectations before the deck cleaner begins
  • Hiring an experienced deck cleaning service to pressure wash the wood
  • Finding someone you can trust
  • Considering whether or not you want to use chemicals

Let’s talk about power washing your deck or wood fencing.

Dustin says that it takes experience to understand the structure of wood and to know the spray tip size and water pressure required to clean it right. Why is this important? If you don’t select them right it can cause many problems. For example, inexperienced washers can blast your deck and cause lots of damage to it. We will talk more about that in a moment.

The importance of setting expectations.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my expectations about having my deck pressure washed?
  • Am I expecting it to look brand new after it’s washed?
  • If my deck is in poor shape, am I willing to repair the bad boards so that my deck looks good again?
  • Am I planning on painting or staining my deck to cover over the imperfections later?

Dustin says that some people expect miracles from power washing a poorly maintained wooden deck. Unfortunately, if you have a five-year-old deck that has not been sealed and protected it’s going to have issues. A professional deck washer will set the expectations for the final results ahead of time so that the homeowner understands what they’re going to get from the pressure wash. If they don’t do this, you might not be happy with the results. In fact, if they don’t bring it up, you should before they ever begin.

What happens when an inexperienced pressure washer works on a poorly maintained deck?

It’s not pretty.

A high-pressure blast from a pressure washing machine can cause your deck to splinter and crack. We challenged Dustin on “cracking” a board with water and he informed us that an industrial tool called a water jet cutter can actually cut through STEEL. A high PSI pressure washer in the wrong hands can easily break a window, damage your deck, or hurt someone.

We Googled “pressure washer dangers” and found this scary statistic: A Consumer Reports article stated that, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 6,047 people went to the emergency room for pressure-washing-related injuries in 2014. 14% of those patients needed to be hospitalized.

The lesson? Never point a pressure washer at someone or yourself. Have a professional pressure wash your deck.

Tips for cleaning your wood deck and wooden fence

Dustin shared the following tips with us:

  • For the best results, start with a deck with good, solid boards. You can only do so much with rotting or splintering wood.
  • Use a low-pressure stream of water.
  • Set your tip to a wide spray stream of water.
  • Wash one board at a time from top to bottom to ensure no lines or stops or starts in the finish. In fact, he compared it to what you would do it if you were staining your deck. One smooth clean motion creates the best effect.
  • Know that some dirt is so entrenched into the boards that it almost acts as a stain to the wood. Dustin said you have to take your time and keep your eye on it. He describes this method as going by “inch by inch.”
  • Be prepared to replace worn or damaged boards so the whole deck looks like new again.
  • Seal your deck annually to protect it.

How to find a good contractor to pressure wash your deck

There’s a lot of competition out there. In fact, Dustin told us that there are over 450 pressure washers in his zip code alone! Anyone with a pressure washer and a pick-up truck is out there cleaning decks. So, take your time to do your research before hiring one. Dustin recommends using websites like Angie’s List or Home Advisor that prescreen contractors and do background checks for you. He also recommended looking at Google reviews.

Ask your deck washing service if they are environmentally friendly

Dustin is an animal lover and chooses to not use harsh chemicals when cleaning decks and fences. In fact, he said that the one time he did use one of these chemicals, it ruined a new shirt! If it ruins your shirt, what does it do to your lungs, your cat or dog’s paws, and the environment?

We hope these tips will be helpful when you’re choosing a deck washing company in Atlanta. Take your time and do your research. Dustin is willing to answer any question you have and can be reached at his website.

Maintaining your home is one way to protect your investment. Affordable home insurance from Atlanta Insurance is another. Please let us know how we can be of assistance to you! We’re here to help you get the coverage you need at the best possible rate – if you fill out our quote form or give us a call, we’ll get you a free quote!



How to choose a business to pressure wash your roof

If the stains on your roof are beginning to drive you crazy, you might be thinking of hiring a roofing cleaner. In just a few hours your roof can be sparkling like new again. The key, though, is hiring the right roof cleaning company. We interviewed Jeremy Cassel of JSC Pressure Washing, located in McDonough, GA, to get his advice about choosing a roof cleaning company.

Jeremy started pressure washing tractor trailers while working for a cousin in Ohio back in 2008. When he moved to McDonough, GA, he passed out some fliers to start his own residential pressure washing business. “I’ve invested in $15,000 worth of pressure washing gear to clean roofs correctly,” Jeremy said. “This is not a cheap business to get started in. You must understand how each piece of equipment works when you’re working with caustic chemicals because your equipment could break down fast.”

What questions should our readers ask of their roof cleaning company?

  • How much experience do you have in roof washing?
  • What kind of water pressure will you use to clean my roof?
  • What’s your plan for rinsing my roof?
  • How will you protect my garden?
  • Are you insured?
  • Could I see some references?

How much experience do they have?

 “Your roof washing contractor needs to have the experience to know which chemicals to use. A pressure washing professional knows what chemicals to use and the correct concentration of chemicals to use when cleaning your roof. For example, sometimes you might have red mud stains on your home. An acid must be used first, then a degreaser works best as a catalyst to remove it. On the other hand, the green mold must be killed with a bleaching agent. If you attack all stains with the same chemical, you’ll be disappointed with the results you get.”

Power washing contractors are a dime a dozen. Not all of them have the experience or equipment to wash roofs correctly. So, ask how long they have been washing roofs.

These additional questions will also help you to see how experienced they really are.

What kind of water pressure will they use?

“Will they use high pressure? Or will they soft wash it?” Jeremy said. “Here’s the problem with using high pressure to wash your roof. First, it can destroy your roofing shingles by blowing the granules off. It can also break shingles. Finally, you can force water underneath your shingles, which can lead to water damage and mold. When you soft wash the roof, the first thing you do is chemically douse your roof. The key thing is to let the chemicals do the work. Not the water pressure! Then all you have to do is a soft wash rinse to remove the cleaning chemicals.”

As far as how mold gets on the roof in the first place, Jeremy had this to say: “Mold spores fly through the air looking for a dark shady spot to land and grow. Is any part of your roof in the shade? Black mold loves to eat lime. Lime is used to help weigh down your shingles. Eventually, mold can burn a hole through your shingles.”


Next question: What’s their plan to clean your roof?

 If they don’t want to share it, then you need to hire someone else.

“Make sure that they use enough water to rinse your roofing shingles,” Jeremy advised. “The chemicals need to be diluted with water at a 10 to 1 ratio. Do not leave any chemicals on the roof. For every gallon of chemical used, you’ll need to spray three to four gallons of water to rinse it properly.” Why is it so important to use enough water? “If you leave too much chemical on your roof, it will corrode your gutters and you’ll need to replace them sooner than you want to.”

How will they protect your garden?

Jeremy said that roof washing chemicals can harm your garden. “Extra care must be taken to protect bushes, flowers, and vegetable gardens. Cover them with plastic tarps and use extra care when using chemicals in these areas. Do they offer you the option of cleaning your roof with biodegradable chemicals that won’t harm your bushes and plants? It’s true that these environmentally safe chemicals cost more to treat a roof, but it’s a lot less money than replacing all of your bushes, flowers, and plants.”

Remember to protect your pets.

“It’s best to keep your animals inside your home while you’re having your roof cleaned. The mist from the chemicals used can hurt your animal’s lungs. The chemicals that are washed off of your roof can harm your animal’s feet. The same goes for children! Make sure they have shoes on, no bare feet allowed. Keep them indoors while [the workers] spray your roof.”

Do they have liability insurance?

Respectfully ask to see proof of insurance. Check the date of coverage make sure that it’s up-to-date. An outdated insurance policy isn’t going to help you if they cause an accident at your house. Jeremy said they should have a $1 million liability policy. “Accidents can easily happen when using a pressure washer with 4000 PSI at 88 gallons per minute. A window can break easily if you’re not paying attention to where you’re working.”

How reputable are they?

“Check Google for reviews,” Jeremy suggested. “I’ve been doing this almost 10 years now. Every year the competition grow stronger. Unfortunately, there are many fly-by-night companies out there that want to wash your roof. So, take the time to check them out.”

Any final tips for our readers looking to hire the right roof washing service?

 “Sometimes while [I’m] washing the roof the homeowner will ask me to wash their siding also. Do you have cedar siding? It’s important that pressure washing cedar siding is done perfectly with the grain. An experienced power washing company understands this. But an inexperienced person with a Home Depot pressure washer will wash it any old way. In the end, you’ll get splintering and you’ll see lines and indentations on every board. You will not be happy with what you paid for. It always cost less to go with a contractor that is experienced and has a good reputation.”

We hope you found this article helpful. Here at Atlanta Insurance, we’re serious about helping you protect your home. We want to think Jeremy Cassell of JSC Pressure Washing for giving this helpful information on finding a company to pressure wash your roof. If you want a free quote on pressure washing your roof in the greater McDonough and Stockbridge area, you can contact Jeremy on his website.

If you want a free quote for your insurance, we can help! We can help you build a customized insurance plan to protect your family and home. We’ll help you get the coverage you need at the best possible rate. All you have to do is fill out our quote form or give us a call today.

How to choose a pressure washing company

Choosing a contractor can be tricky. You want to make sure that you find someone who’s trustworthy and who will take good care of your home. That’s especially true when it comes to finding a pressure washing company. Over time, a layer of dirt and gunk can build up on your deck and house, necessitating that you hire someone to clean it. But you don’t want to choose just anyone.

We caught up with Mickey Rickard of MJR Pressure Washing to get some advice for choosing a pressure washing contractor. Mickey started pressure washing homes back in 1998. There aren’t many people who can say they’ve been pressure washing houses here in Atlanta for the last 19 years!

What should our readers look for when it comes to hiring someone to pressure wash their house?

  1. Experience.
  2. Insurance.
  3. Licensing.
  4. References.

What kind of experience should our readers look for?

Mickey said, “Ideally you’d want someone that has 10 years or more of experience…[but] 3-5 years is pretty good too. You will find that most have less than three years of experience and this is average.”

It’s important to find someone who has plenty of experience. Mickey himself admits that he’s still learning, even after 19 years in the business. Your home is a huge investment, so you want someone who knows what they’re doing to pressure wash it.

What kind of insurance should a pressure washing company carry?

Mickey said that your contractor should carry liability insurance at the least. To illustrate his point, he told us a story about how, when he was starting out, he accidentally tripped a breaker. He was washing close to an electrical outlet and some water slipped behind the box, causing the breaker to shut off. Fortunately, he was able to reset it and everything was fine, but if he hadn’t realized the breaker had been tripped it could have gotten messy. What if there had been a freezer filled with expensive foods connected to that particular breaker? Yikes.

He also shared a story that he heard in which smoke came out of an outdoor electrical outlet on a house that had been power washed. The smoke ended up causing a small fire, which is unsettling. A trick that Mickey has learned is to tape all outdoor outlets to seal them against any water trickling in—water and electricity don’t mix.

Again, the moral of the story is to make sure that your pressure washer has insurance and lots of experience. You don’t want your home to catch fire from power washing.  

What kind of licensing is required?

Mickey explains that the business must have a business license to be a legitimate pressure washing company. All it takes is going to the county office to get licensed.

What kind of references are best?

“Good and honest!” Mickey said.

Some places will actually ask you for a positive review after they do the job that you hire them for, but Mickey believes that a contractor should do such a good job that asking for a good review won’t be necessary. After all, it’s in their interest to do quality work so they get good reviews and build up a strong reputation. No one’s going to hire a power washing company with bad reviews. Mickey also points out that a contractor should strive to do an excellent job so that their customers will call them back the next year and pass along their name to their friends and family.

What kind of problems can an inexperienced pressure washer cause?

If your home has vinyl siding, you’ve probably noticed that it turns a very vivid shade of green, caused by algae. Oxidation from weather and the sun can also be an issue—it’ll leave a powdery substance all along your vinyl siding.

If an inexperienced pressure washer uses a pressure setting that’s too high, they’ll leave your house looking great while it’s still wet, but as soon as it dries you’ll notice squiggles and lines. This happens because a setting that’s too high and only removes some of the powdery oxidation.

Mickey explained that an experienced pressure washer knows to let the chemicals do the work instead of the blast of water. The bleach in the chemicals will remove all the gunk and oxidation, and then all the washer has to do is use a low setting the rinse off the bleach. To make sure that your pressure washer knows their stuff, ask them about their process and how they clean houses. If they mention a high setting…you may want to reconsider.

Also, if someone improperly bleaches your home, they could do some real damage. Using too much bleach or leaving the bleach on the surface for too long could cause the color of your house to fade.

Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, if not the biggest. To protect your investment, you should consider pressure washing to add life to your siding—plus it makes it look nice! And special thanks to Mickey of MJR Pressure Washing for sharing his professionalise with us. If you’re interested in getting your home pressure washed or you want to find out more, you can check out http://mjrpressurewashing.com.

If you’re looking to protect your home with insurance, we can help! Contact us today and we’ll help you make sure that your investment is safe and sound.