Pressure Washers Effective, Fun to Use

Pressure Washers Have Lots of Uses

You get such dramatic and quick results from using pressure washers that you may not realize they are actually fun to use. You may be begging to clean your neighbors’ siding, driveways and cars once you’ve finished your own. You can rent or buy a pressure washer to clean nearly any outdoor item. Pressure washers, whether electric motors or gas engines power them, run a pump that pressurizes the water from your garden hose to 1,000 pounds or more, then forces it out through a spray wand. The higher the pressure (measured in pounds per square inch—psi), the tougher the cleaning jobs they can tackle. Both types require a steady, uninterrupted supply of water (in gallons per minute—gpm). For occasional use, most homeowners will find that a washer with a pressure range of 1,300 to 2,400 psi works best.

Techniques for Power Washing Important

You will most usually use a fan tip on your power washer. Fan tip size is measured in degrees, with a 40 to 60 degree tip size being the norm for deck cleaning. Set your pressure to 600 psi to see if that will work for you. Increase the pressure incrementally as needed to clean the deck but not damage or etch the wood surface. Engage the trigger a couple of feet away from the deck surface and then lower the wand to about 12 inches off the surface and clean using a sweeping motion. As you sweep you will have a tendency to pivot with your arm but that will create inconsistent distance of the tip from the deck surface. You can do this by moving your arm laterally back and forth. Work with the grain by feathering your spraying lengthwise. The key is you want an even cleaning with no hot spots or visible “cleaning edges.”

Preparation for Pressure Washing

Assemble the pressure washer by attaching a hose to the intake valve and the “wand” to the appropriate nozzle. Make sure the safety latch on the wand is in place and then start the motor. It starts just like a lawn mower, but keep in mind that once the motor has started, pressure starts building up right away, so don’t let the motor idle for long. The jet from a pressure washer can be 50 times more powerful than a garden hose. So it can do a lot of damage if used incorrectly.

Release the safety lock and point the wand away before pulling the trigger. Never point the wand at another person. With a steady “sweeping” motion, move the spray back and forth across the surface. The trick is to keep the spray moving. Don’t rest in one spot for too long or it could permanently damage the surface. Steadily move the jet back and forth across the entire deck. The difference after each pass will be noticeable. A cleaning solution can be added to help with those tough spots on the deck. You can use the pressure washer to clean many surfaces around the house. Use it on brick walls to make sure every nook and cranny gets clean. Siding can be cleaned with a lower pressure spray tip. It is also useful for removing algae stains from a backyard fence.

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