How do I clean my brick exterior???

Old 02-14-02, 11:17 AM
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How do I clean my brick exterior???

I just bought my first house (built 1944) last summer and i noticed that the brick exterior has:

-a "white film" on the brick that looks like melted rock salt??

-There is also lots of paint spots from when the previous owners painted the windows and dripped paint...

How can i remove this??? It really looks like crap...

Is there a chemical or should i just rent a powerwasher (but I'm afraid of cement between the bricks coming out)??

Can anyone help a first time homeowner out???
Old 02-14-02, 01:54 PM
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Do NOT use a powerwasher on masonry!

Put it out of your mind. Think like no one has ever suggested it.

Ok. Now we can start fresh. In 1944 how did masons clean brick? The way they had for years. First, they did a neater job than the "bricklayers" of today. Second, they cleaned as they went along. Masons always had burlap on a jobsite to brush off their work. Third, might have used muriatic acid (*) to clean up residue, etc. Fourth, cleaned up a bit... and went and had a beer.

Today, its a shame to say, but many bricklayers have had a couple before 10 sometimes, they are sloppier than all get out, and if they ever saw burlap, they'd think the landscapers left something off a rootball. Then, to top it all off, they'll get out the power washer, and make sure they have real fine nozzle on that thing so they can get all the details clean... finally crankin' that hummer up. Oh yeah! If 1,000 PSI is good, 2,000 PSI should make the job go twice as fast... or maybe at 3,000 PSI I could be done after lunch... and still get to go hunt/drink beer/fish/drink beer/golf/drink beer... etc.

You are 150% correct. Power washers do damage to the brick faces... changing the look of the unit in the was from sandface to wirecut... in the matter or a couple of wand passes. They also destroy joint surface also... taking off the layer of fines brought to the top by tooling (gravevine, concave, convex, rope, etc.).

The best method for an individual to attempt is the good old fashioned "BRUSH AND BUCKET". Simply wet the wall with water from a garden hose... using your thumb to simulate a nice rain on the wall... work only in small areas.... starting at the top and working down. Get a commercially available cleaner, we offer the whole line of Sure Klean products in our area. (Paint remover, lime solvent, 600 detergent.)

Finally, I am affraid your wall is crying to you for help. The white salty film is EFFLORESCENCE. This usually means you have excessive water inside the wall cavity. I bet it is on southern or southwestern exposed wall too! The water is leeching and migrating out toward the heat of the sunshine on the outside of the wall... bringing with it all sorts of impurity found in the wall... like salt... from side walks and stairs... or even if the sand delivered to your jobsite was the load after the truck had been working for the state delivering highway sand that had salt mixed in... it could happen. Pay attention to the signs... look up... you have a leak... DON'T SEAL ANYTHING until you FIND THE WATER SOURCE! Then you plug the hole or cracks... then, by hand... srubb off the EFFLORESCENCE... don't push it back in with the powerwasher, using only clean water. Most of the times, EFFLORESCENCE will go away once you close off the source of water penetrating the cavity. You may need to repeat the process.

Good luck!

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