Guidelines for Using a Pressure Washer
In case you have been procrastinating over doing your outdoor cleaning job, you should consider getting a pressure washer because it will make your work easier. In addition, you will enjoy the cleaning process. You can brighten the exterior of your house with the powerful spray of a pressure washer. First, you need to understand the how the pressure system works so that you avoid turning a cleaning exercise into a disaster. Fortunately, a pressure washer has four basic components, regardless of the machine model. Moreover, you should focus on pressure, the strength of the spray and cleaning solution.
Basic Components of a Pressure Washer
The first component of a pressure washer is the motor, which powers the pump, thereby increasing the pressure of the water that comes from your garden hose. The water pressure is measured by PSI (pounds per square inch). In this regard, the higher the PSI, the higher the force of the water it produces.
Choosing the right engine for your pressure washer can be something that people overlook. Usually the name brand of the pressure washer is the first think people thing of. When you look at 2 different pressure washers from different companies, they may look different at first based on color and design, but in reality they may be almost exactly the same.
Honda makes some of the best small engines and they mainly consist of the GC and GX series. The GX is a commerical grade engine and is very desirable, but the GC engines are very good as well.
Subaru also makes some very good engines and I would recommend them as well, but in the end when it comes to finding the best pressure washer you should look for the PSI rating and the GPM rating.
The second component is the pump, which I have stated before is the most important part of the pressure washer. The pump is what takes the water from your garden hose and pressurizes it to a much higher PSI level. Depending on the pump you will have a GPM rating as well. GPM stands for Gallons Per Minute. The higher this number is the more water will shoot out and make cleaning easier. On the other hand the lower this number is the more efficient your power washer will be. Some areas have water restrictions and using a pressure washer can be more efficient than you standard garden hose.
Usually the first component to fail with any pressure washer is the pump and they can be tricky to repair. As long as you have a high quality motor matched with a high quality pump, your pressure washer will need very little maintenance. Most of the lower cost units will have a cheap pump that will most likely fail and need to be replaced sooner than the actual engine.
Some of the electric pressure washer have non replaceable pumps and require you to purchase a brand new pressure washer. I know some people who just want the cheapest electric pressure washer they can find and they replace it as soon as it dies with another cheap model. I try to tell them to invest their money into a high quality pressure washer that will save them a lot of money in the long run, but will cost more money up front. Sometimes people listen and sometimes they are stuck in their ways.
The third component is the nozzle tip, which releases the pumped water onto the surface. Most pressure washers have a few nozzle tips that you change according to the surface you are cleaning. You will notice a color or labeling on the nozzle tips, written in degrees, which indicate the strength and width of the fan spray. A high degree means that the nozzle tip has a wide spray fan, and it suitable for cleaning soft surface like wood. On the other hand, a smaller degree means that the nozzle tip releases a narrow spray fan, and it is suitable for removing stubborn stains such as brick and concrete surfaces. These nozzle tips come in different colors. In most cases, red colors signify a strong spray while white nozzle tip is for delicate surfaces.
Always pay attention to the nozzle you are using and the surface you are cleaning. Once the damage is done, it can’t be easily fixed. You can quickly damage a wood deck with a pressure washer and have to replace boards. This can be time consuming and easily avoided if you just take your time and follow directions.
You should also be sure to wear proper safety equipment. It is a good idea to wear eye protection in case tiny rocks shoot up, you should wear gloves when using detergents and other chemicals, and you should always make sure you are wearing protective boots or shoes. Due to the extremely high force of water coming out of the machine you could possibly lose a toe if you are wearing sandals or are barefoot. Just make sure you use common sense and nothing should go wrong.
The forth component is the injector, which is the additional tubing that allows you to put detergent or degreaser into the spray. Not all pressure washers are going to have this function. However, a lot of the popular models will have a built in soap container, or they will have a tube that connects to the pump that you put into your cleaning liquid. The pressure washer is smart enough to dilute the detergent so that you can make sure you are not over applying soap to the surface you are cleaning.
When using an injector to apply soap to your cleaning project, lets take a driveway for example; you should allow the surface to absorb the spray of chemicals for a period of about five to ten minutes before rinsing it off. This allows the detergent or the degreaser to remove the dirt on the surface, and when you make a final rinsing, the surface becomes clean. You also want to make sure that the surface stays wet and the chemicals do not dry before you rinse them off. On a hot day you can find that the chemicals can dry up pretty fast. Just give it a mist of water every now and then. The same goes for when you are pressure cleaning a car. You do not want water to dry on the car or you will get ugly water marks.
When cleaning a fence, the side of a house, a car, or any other vertical surface, it is advisable to start on top and work your way down when you are cleaning. You will avoid streaks on your wall or the fence, avoid splashing dirt and other debris on to the cleaned surface, and make you proud of your work at the end.
Make sure you use the white nozzle tip or the highest degree nozzle you have when cleaning delicate surfaces like the windows and light fixtures. In other words, do not use a strong spray. You can easily damage window screens with any pressure washing nozzles so avoid those at all costs too!
While cleaning keep a distance of 3-4 feet from the surface, to avoid stray water coming your way while cleaning. When cleaning high walls, you can use an extension wand. You should never use a ladder when cleaning high walls because you can trip on the cord and fall.
Using a pressure washer is actually very easy and almost anyone can handle it. There is not too much force that you will be pushed back, but you will definitely feel the force.
Using a pressure washer can be described in just a few steps.
- Bring the pressure washer to the cleaning location.
- Plug in the power cord if it it and electric model. Check the oil and gas if it is a gas powered washer.
- Connect the garden hose and then turn on the water source.
- Pull the trigger on the spray lance to relieve the pressure from the pump.
- Push the power button on the electric pressure washer or pull the cord to start the gas unit. You may need to apply the choke on the gas model. Some pressure washers like the Costco Subaru 3100 model have an electric start where you just press the button to start it.
- Now that the machine is running, attach the desired nozzle or surface cleaner and get to work.
Using a pressure washer can be very fun and rewarding. It will make cleaning easier and more efficient. If you need specific help with your pressure washer feel free to contact more, read your instruction manual, or contact the manufacturer for support.