Remember when you’d have to scrub your home’s siding with a brush and a bucket of water? Those days...
A pressure washer is the ultimate outdoor cleaning tool. It can be used to wash and clean windows, cars, outdoor furniture, and remove stains caused by mold, mildew, and algae. You can either buy or rent a pressure washer. Renting lets you skip the hassle of finding storage space and maintaining your machine. If you wish to buy your own, it is a worthy investment.
Pressure washers have come a long way. They are now more affordable and many high-quality products are gracing the market. But if you buy the wrong machine, you will be wasting a lot of money and will even have to deal with years of frustration and regret. This guide will help you understand what the machine does, why you need one, and what are the things to consider when shopping for the right pressure washer.
A pressure washer can either make your life easier or be a constant source of despair. For one, premium heavy-duty models are not cheap, so choosing the right one for your needs can be daunting. If you are unfortunate enough to end up with the wrong machine or something that just doesn’t work as expected, you will never touch it again. So you now have a dirty patio and loads of money down the drain.
Buying a pressure washer is recommended if you want to increase your ability to maintain and clean your property, giving it greater value in return. Busy homeowners will benefit from an easy, economical, and quick way of cleaning their exteriors through pressure washing. If your time is valuable and you need a powerful cleaner that can clean your property and outdoor furniture from top to bottom, consider buying your own pressure washer.
A pressure washer works through a simple mechanism. A standard machine has a water pump powered by either a gas-fueled engine or electric motor. To deliver a strong and concentrated jet of water, the pump accelerates the water supplied from a garden hose.
At the end of the high-pressure rated hose is a water gun; when the trigger is pulled, a mixture of water and air comes out of a concentrating nozzle. The strong pressure can remove dirt more effectively than a brush. The primary components of a typical pressure washer include:
If properly maintained, your machine could last for years. Because they are built to provide years of reliable use, it will pay for itself in a few years. Now let’s talk about the types of machines available in the market and the things you should consider before purchasing one.
The first thing to consider when buying a pressure washer is the kind of work you are going to do and then look for the type of machine that fits your application. Pressure washers are categorized based on their power supply sources. Where you plan to employ your machine should influence your choice.
Gas engines produce more power but they are usually loud, heavy, and require more maintenance. They are perfect for medium and heavy-duty jobs like cleaning patios, sidings, and sidewalks. Gas-powered washers cost between $250 to $1000.
Machines with electric motors are typically lightweight, less noisy, and require little upkeep. They can be used in and around the home for smaller projects that require less pressure. You need to connect the machine to a power source or a generator to work. You can find models in a $100 to $250 price range.
The amount of pressure is also an essential consideration. The pressure of each unit is measured in bars–the energy with which the water will hit what you are cleaning. The higher the pressure, the easier it is to remove dirt as there is more power. Lower pressure is ideal for delicate cleaning. Machines with a maximum of 120 bars are recommended for fences and patios. Those with a max bar of over 120 is ideal for heavy-duty cleaning.
Most consumers are so focused on the PSI rating of a machine that they fail to consider the other important indicators of a machine’s power. The cleaning force of a pressure washer is dictated by various factors such as the GPM, PSI, and CU rating. Let’s briefly discuss what these acronyms are and why they are important.
PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) the pressure of water that comes out of the spray wand.
GPM (Gallons per Minute) the water flow or volume of water delivered by the machine
CU Cleaning Units) a true indicator of a pressure washer’s cleaning ability
If you can find the CU in the unit’s specifications, you can calculate it by multiplying the PSI and GPM of the unit (PSI x GPM = CU). The greater the CU the greater the power of the machine for cleaning deeply and effectively.
To illustrate the importance of CU rating, lets compare two gas engine machines: machine A has a PSI rating of 3100 and GPM of 2. Machine B has a PSI rating of 2,100 and a GPM of 3. While machine A has a higher PSI rating, it has a lower CU of 6,200 compared to machine B’s 6,300. Yes, machine B has a slightly higher cleaning ability than machine A.
Different pressure washer brands may have different types of nozzle–the spout at the tip of the wand that controls the intensity of water being sprayed. Pressure washers are sold with either an adjustable nozzle or interchangeable color-coded ones. The adjustable nozzle has 5 nozzles in one which can be adjusted in real-time. This type is more convenient than replaceable ones.
The red (0 degrees) nozzle provides a small, concentrated and very powerful jet of water for the toughest cleaning jobs. However, consumers are advised to only use this nozzle when needed (or not use it at all), as it can cause serious injuries and damage to properties. The black-tip nozzle has the lowest pressure and can be used to clean fragile surfaces like glass windows.
Some pressure washers come with a turbo or rotary nozzle, but they are usually sold as a separate accessory. It combines the pressure of the red nozzle and spinning at 5,000 – 9,000 RPM to cut your cleaning time in half.
For practical purposes, the portability of a machine should also be under consideration. A machine should be easy for the user to wheel around and store. Some models can be heavy and even with built-in wheels can be a pain to lug around. A solution for cumbersome machines is to get a longer hose. This would be helpful if you have a lot of steps in your deck or garden.
Q: Is it better to rent or buy a pressure washer?
A: Renting may be more economical if you only need a pressure washer occasionally. The cost of gas engine machines ranges between $250 to $700 for consumers and semi-professional users. Renting a machine will set you back $40 to $100 per day. Buying a mid-range machine would pay for itself within a few renting sessions.
Q: What is a good PSI for a pressure washer?
A: It depends on your project. You should the required pressure for completing different tasks. For example, a PSI of 1500 is sufficient to clean barbecue grills, bikes, and other vehicles. Cleaning dirty concrete requires a PSI between 2000 to 3000. About 2,500 is required for decks and fences.
Q: How long does a pressure washer last?
A: Gas-powered machines can last between 300 to 3000 hours. Some units can last for 5 years and others up to 10 years or more. Electric motor machines are less durable, but can still provide years of reliable service with proper maintenance.
Q: Is it safe to use a pressure washer on a car?
A: You can safely wash bikes, scooters, and cars using a pressure washer. Choose a pressure washer with a setting of 1200 – 1900 PSI.
Q: What kind of detergent can I use in a pressure washer?
A: You can use a variety of commercial products meant for pressure washers or make your own homemade detergent. Bleach, laundry detergent, vinegar, all-purpose cleaners, and a combination of other chemicals can be used in a pressure washer.