Contractors Beware

Contractors Beware — This could be an industry changing topic.

This is just a warning to all contractors so take it as you want. It’s more directly related to residential however if you put a twist on it you could be in danger in the commercial side as well. For example, any surface of vinyl, aluminum, etc.

We power washed an individual’s house that had ***** ***** siding. It’s a higher grade vinyl siding. No doubt customer was happy when the job was completed using our soft wash system with a common mix of soap and chlorine. A couple months go by and he calls to complain and says there are streaks on the siding. Sure enough there was. At first I thought oxidation. However nothing that I tried to use prevailed in removing these streaks. My ultimate conclusion was that it wasn’t oxidation. Mind you that the streaks look like perfect lines in the vinyl from bottom right to top left at an angle. No chemical run marks. With that it swayed me away from the chemical usage as if that was the case there would be run marks since the streaks were at an angle there should be some run off markings. All the streaks around all sides of the house were the same length and pretty much same width. So at wits end I turned it in as a claim because the homeowner called ***** ***** and they said it was not a manufacturer default in the siding as I expected it was.

The insurance was happy to write the homeowner a check to replace all of the siding. So here is where you should pay attention. When speaking with the adjuster, first they sent out an independent contractor to evaluate the work I did. Because the lines were 2 and half stories high she asked if I had proper training on scaffolding. I had to explain our process and how we do things. Her comments to me were that we were not at fault. Mind you that this lady had no idea how pressure washing was done and asked if I brushed the solution on and scrubbed it, etc. The typical questions you may get from a NON educated homeowner. She asked the PSI, etc.
Secondly when I went and asked the adjuster how we were found at fault his reply was that the independent contractor thought we didn’t meet the “Care Instructions of the Siding” because of our “ratio” of chlorine and not using the soap the manufacturer suggest in using. Upon further communication with this adjuster he stated that we as contractors need to know the manufacturer’s care instructions for every house (i.e. vinyl, aluminum) that we wash. His comment was that we as contractors should look on the back of the siding for the care instructions. (Laughingly) I asked him if he heard what he was saying. (That would require us to pull siding off each home we even gave an estimate for) Then he realized what that would mean and backed out of that part of the conversation.

So does this or will this change the industry? I don’t know how anyone else would feel in our position but I will say the cost of house washes are on the rise for us. For the house that no one knows the manufacturer well I guess that will go to the contractor who wants to pay an insurance deductible bill sent to him.

I am not trying to blast anyone’s products here but for the contractors who use ** on vinyl to get rust off, *** on vinyl because it’s a “green” product, **** on vinyl because it’s what you have used forever, etc. Just be aware that YOU THE CONTRACTOR are held responsible and will be seen as at fault according to what this insurance company explained to me.


An additional note should be mentioned. That if the product used had Product Liability Insurance, they would have covered the claim instead of you if you had used the product in a consistant manner in which it was designed.

I know that some of the products out there do not have product liability insurance and if you use them then it falls on you as the contractor if any claims should arise.

Are there any pictures to go with this? Before and after pictures, mix ratios, application process, manufacturer recommendations and the like would all be useful here

No matter what, this had to be a sickening feeling and I can see this issue spreading like wildfire in consumer advisories against pressure washing businesses

I doubt you would see it spread against pressure washing companies. Just like the roofing industry the vinyl siding industry has recommended cleaning instructions. We do not know all the details, so I would not jump to conclusions.

As long as you are using a detergent that meets the cleaning guidelines set by the manufacturer I would think you would be safe. I do not think it will be a matter of knowing the process for a bunch of manufacturers. It is pretty much a standard uniform set of instructions across the industry.

I am in the process of putting everything together and downloaded accordingly as far as the pictures go.

I explained our mix ratio and had to explain the soft wash system to the independent contractor lady. Our mix ratio is what I have used for years with no problems whatsoever. I wont divulge our mix ratio because it would disclose who we buy from and I don’t want this to sound negative toward them. (SEE BELOW) Not their fault as far as I am concerned. I did explain to the independent contractor how many homes we have done in 10+ year as well. What was explained to me from the adjuster was that because our mix ratio WAS NOT the same as what the manufacturer required we were putting ourselves at risk of a lawsuit. And therefore the insurance company thought they were protecting us by paying the customer the 25 grand for new siding.

On their instructions it states that under normal conditions rainfall is enough to keep the siding clean. Also as for the worse case (Mildew/ Mold) cleaning it should be done with 1/3 cup detergent (Tide), 2/3 cup TSP, 1 quart of Clorox 5% solution, 3 quarts water.

Our solution was 16-24oz detergent (NOT TIDE), 5 gallons Chlorine, 55 gallons water.

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Thats a lot of chlorine for 55 Gallons. You can sanitize a 10K Gallon Swimming pool with 5 Gallons.

I assume that was direct spray via a pump and not DS?

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Thats about twice the strength we use

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What makes it so odd is that the lines were all straight. I am guessing the insurance company decided that 25K was much cheaper than what it would cost to fight it. Win or lose a case and it can cost you thousands even if you are not at fault.

Applied with a soft wash system. I have never DS.

As for the strength. Do the math. The manufacturer is suggesting to use 1/3 of your solution as Clorox. We use 1/10 but use 12%.

The straight lines is what and where my problem laid. If it was chemical usage it would have NOT been universal lines all across the siding. I would have also thought it would have had run marks as anything you apply vertical usually has at least minimal run off. These lines looked like someone took a 4000 PSI machine and etched into the siding. That’s how straight they were.

How did you apply and rinse your house wash, was it DS’ed or did you use a pump? Did you mix it or did an employee?

What has me confused is when we was anything, anything at all, it drips/runs straight down, NOT at an angle.

Applied with SoftWash system. I mixed it personally. The angle is where my problem was. We applied and let it sit for probably 10-15 minutes and rinse. Overcast day and nothing dried. I am still twisting my head over this…

drying should not have been a problem. I think something else was going on, did you get the pictures?

Let’s see some pictures.

Can’t believe I saw this. This happened to me about 3 years ago. Regular customer. They had very high end siding. I xjet our solution and they called us back week later … Same thing with lines… At first thought is was leaking from joints, but they weren’t lined up. The siding was a grayish color with little black in it. I didn’t have to pay. I had guy call, maybe a defect, but wasn’t . I had pictures on my old phone and posted it to another forum, not sure if it was Wcr , but no one ever saw it before. I’ll try to find out name of siding

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My math says the mix was 1% which is what alot of people shot for (me included). I think the lines where already there and your cleaning just uncovered them or made them more visable. Are these angled lines the same as some of the roof pitches around this house. I’d say the sun, maybe some reflections off some windows combined with the roofs blocking part of the sun caused this. There is no way your House Wash did this. I don’t know how this would effect your insurance but with me being a 2nd year powerwasher, I would fight it all the way.

The problem with this Sean is that the insurance company just decided to pay out. I talk to Rob probably 4-5 times a week because we love talking shop. He told me about this case and pretty much what happened was Rob got bamboozled by the insurance company who just decided to pay out and not giving him a chance to fight this. This opens up a whole other can of worms when insurance companies just decide to make you at fault by paying out just to clear the claim.

You also have to keep in mind that fighting the case regardless of who is at fault can sometime cost more that what the actual claim would have been. So in the long run it can often be less expensive to both the insurance company and the business owner to settle the claim than it would be to hire attorneys and fight it.

To all who have asked. I will getting the pictures together shortly I have not downloaded them from the camera’s yet. I have several sets of pictures of this. I am trying to sort thru the best ones and most visible.

To what Heroe’s is saying. NOT true. The homeowner in this case would have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that it was our fault. I am still sticking with the fact that it was a manufacturer issue not something on our end. We have attorney’s on payroll now so it wouldn’t have cost much for us. The HUGE problem here is and my concern is the setting of precedence. Now if a homeowner knows about these claims we as contractors would lose every time because the insurance has already sent out checks. Like I explained to the adjuster you are putting meat risk for 1000’s of claims. Make sense?

Remind you that this same insurance company wrote out a check for the only other claim we have ever had. This was a parking garage in which we were washing the interior. Somehow and to my knowledge the facilities guys have never got it resolved water was leaking on the outside of the building. We had our reclaim system set up on the bottom of the 6th floor yet water was leaking out and running down the outside of the building. When we saw this we stopped immediately. The garage had a section on the first floor that they had created a coffee shop. Huge 10x15 custom windows. So a couple days go by and the coffee shop owner calls me and tells me he is going to sue us for warping his window. He explained that the water running on the outside warped the window. What did the adjuster do? He wrote a check for the 3200$. I asked him if he saw how the building was setup and that there was no water on the inside, etc. He said no Rob we just figured it was easier to get this guy happy and wrote the check. Really? So now you can see why the siding issue is a concern as well.

Burden of proof or who is at fault has nothing to do with it.

If a homeowner takes you to court, whether you are at fault or not. It would have cost you or the insurance company money to defend yourselves.

The point was that the insurance company has to weigh the facts and determine what is the least expensive way to settle the claim. If paying the claim regardless of who is at fault is cheaper than fighting it out in court then that is the most likely course of action.

Insurance Companies are in the business of making money, not to determine who is right or wrong. They settle claims based on dollars and cents not right or wrong.

Just because you have a claim paid out does not mean you are at fault, or that you accept responsibility. Paying a claim is often the less expensive course of action for both the business owner and the insurance company.

That is the way business is done.