Q: We're about to power-wash our white, vinyl-sided garage. I know from experience this may leave a rough, chalky finish. Is there a clear, vinyl-compatible sealer that can be applied to the cleaned areas?

Q: We're about to power-wash our white, vinyl-sided garage. I know from experience this may leave a rough, chalky finish. Is there a clear, vinyl-compatible sealer that can be applied to the cleaned areas?

A: The result of power-washing your vinyl-sided garage is a rough, chalky finish, and you might want to stop doing it.

Some manufacturers don't want pressure washers used on their products at all. Others allow them but limit the amount of pressure and the cleaners that can be used.

What experts suggest is washing it with a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled, soft-bristle brush. For textured surfaces, use only a soft bristle brush to keep the grooves in the texture stain-free.

For best results, start at the bottom of the house and work up. Rinse the cleaning solution completely before it dries.

The website www.vinylsiding.org matches a list of cleaners to use with stains. The caveat: Do not use cleaners containing organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover or furniture polish or cleaners. They can affect the surface of the siding.

Even if there is a sealer you can use, consider this: If painting vinyl siding can affect the warranty, so could applying a sealer. Check with the manufacturer before you proceed.

———

Q: We have a paver driveway that was installed in early 2005. We like it a lot, but the maintenance is quite a challenge with the polymer-based sand not curing as it should, resulting in moss, weeds and grass growing between the blocks.

I have upgraded the polymer-based sand from the original installation, and although the results are better, it is not good enough, as it eventually works its way out and is replaced by dirt, weeds and grass.

Does it make sense to foster the growth of the moss? Obviously the grass and weeds must be removed because the root structure is too deep.

A: Only if people use your driveway to figure out which direction is north. Some folks like the look of moss between the pavers. I'm not one of them, so every spring, I use the edge of a garden hoe to remove it.

I've seen power-washing recommended, although you can damage the paver surface, so attack one area before you do. Same with bleach and scrub brush.

Moss grows in the shade. Maybe trimming trees will reduce moss growth.

———

WITH POWER COMES RESPONSIBILITY

This is National Electrical Safety Month, and CSA International wanted me to pass on advice on the proper and safe use of cords and power tools.

Some of the tips are fairly obvious. Others will surprise you.

Check appliance and extension cords regularly and replace them if they are worn or damaged. In particular, look for worn insulation and splices on the cord, and loose or exposed parts on the plug.

When working with power tools, use a heavy-duty, grounded, three-pronged cord.

Never connect more than one extension cord; instead use a single cord that is long enough to reach from the appliance to the outlet without stretching.

When outdoors, use only cords that are clearly marked for outdoor use.

Never unplug an electrical cord by pulling on the cord.

Inspect all tools and cords before each use. Do not use a power tool that has a cracked casing or loose parts. Ensure that safety guards are in order.

Use only electric power tools that have either a three-prong plug or double insulation. If you need an extension cord, use one that is heavy enough to handle the load and has a proper three-wire grounded cord.

For more tips, visit www.csagroup.org/consumers/consumer—site

———

(Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at aheavens

phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.)

———

(c) 2010, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at http:www.philly.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.