A hosepipe at full steam and a scrubbing brush fueled with elbow grease will only get you so far. When you really need a powerful clean, put some motor skills behind your cleaning projects and opt for a pressure washer that can reduce the time and energy required to complete many jobs outside of your home.
“Pressure washers squirt water quickly and with enough force to blow away dirt, grime and debris. They’re often used to wash concrete driveways, pavers and sidewalks, decks, patios and siding because they make cleaning relatively quick and easy,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of San Diego-headquartered Lawn Love.
A pressure washer uses either an electric motor or a gasoline engine to power a pump that forces water through a nozzle to create pressure, according to Mike Saice, manager of parts, service and repair at Northern Tool + Equipment, a national retailer based in Burnsville. Minnesota, with a suburban store in Mount Prospect.
“Nozzles vary in size, style and pattern, allowing pressure washers to be used in a variety of applications,” he adds. “A pressure washer is better than a garden hose with a high pressure spray nozzle because the pressure washer generates a lot of power. The secret of a pressure washer’s success is that the same water flow rate in gallons per minute exits a garden hose nozzle and multiplies it, creating additional power and capability.”
Kristina Matthew, an Austin, Texas-based landscape architect and co-founder of Gardeningit.com, says pressure washers also come in two temperature varieties: cold-water models and hot-water models.
“Cold water pressure washers are great for cleaning sidewalks, decks, patios, and siding,” she says. “A hot water pressure washer that can also use soapy detergent is better for cleaning things like decks, sidewalks, concrete, car parts, and brick.”
Ideal prospects for purchasing and using a pressure washer are homeowners who have a variety of outdoor surfaces and outdoor areas that get dirty on a regular basis.
“Homeowners can use pressure washers to wash their home’s exterior, deck or patio, vehicles, garage floors, driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, pool decks, fences, grills and grills, and lawn mowers,” says Saice. “They are very effective at cleaning surfaces. If a stain or discoloration has entered the material, removing the discoloration means removing damaged material until uncontaminated material is reached, or replacing the damaged object with new materials.”
For example, dirt on the car can be removed with a pressure washer, but rust cannot be washed off – it must be removed or replaced.
However, extreme caution should be exercised before and during operation.
“Always wear appropriate clothing such as safety goggles, rubber gloves, long pants, closed-toe shoes and hearing protection when using a pressure washer. The powerful jet these machines put out, combined with their high pressure, can cause serious injury — possibly damage to your skin and nails, or slips and falls,” Matthew warns. “Also, the spray head tips should always be pointed away from you when to minimize the amount of water emitted.”
When using a pressure washer for the first time, start at least 3 feet away from the object or surface you’re cleaning, Saice recommends. When spraying, slowly move the nozzle towards the material to be cleaned. When you’re happy with the results, back off a bit and keep that distance. Remember that the force of pressure can quickly damage surfaces, especially soft wood like pine, if the nozzle gets too close.
“Pressure washers often cost between $150 and $400 or more and are available at most home improvement or lawn care stores,” says Yamaguchi. “Expect a lifespan of about eight to 15 years, depending on how often they’re used.”