Pressure washers, also called power washers, come in a variety of different forms, though they all ultimately get the same job done. If you are new to the world of pressure washers, knowing which one to select and how to use it can be intimidating. But don’t worry! This straightforward buying guide can help point you in the right direction.

A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Pressure Washer

Before you start shopping for a pressure washer, it is important to understand the best and most effective ways to use them. This can help you get the most out of your machine and avoid making any mistakes such as damaging the surface you are working with.

  1. Tips with narrow sprays provide more pressure and less coverage. Wider sprays provide greater coverage at lower pressure.
  2. Start with the nozzle 2 feet away from the surface you are cleaning and move closer as needed (but no closer than 6 inches).
  3. Use the widest spray angle you can. If it is not removing the stain, then you can narrow the spray angle as needed.
  4. When cleaning vertical surfaces like walls and siding, wash from the bottom up then rinse from the top down.
  5. Hold the tip of the pressure washer nozzle at an angle, not directly at the surface you are cleaning to prevent damage.
  6. Keep the spray nozzle moving to avoid cutting into surfaces.
  7. Practice makes perfect! Practice until you get the hang of using your pressure washer on hidden surfaces, just in case a mistake is made so you won’t be harming a noticeable surface.

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Gas VS Electric

Both gas and electric pressure washers are powerful and useful machines, however, they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Gas-powered pressure washers, for example, are great for quickly cleaning decks, siding, and other large spaces. They can remove stuck-on gum, sap, and other tough stains. Gas pressure washers typically pump 2,000 to 2,800 pounds of water per square inch. This allows for faster cleaning. The downsides to gas power washers, however, is that they come with added noise and weight. They also require more maintenance. Gas-powered power washers must be pull-started, require fuel-mixing, and need tuneups. They also must be winterized with antifreeze in colder areas since you cannot store a gas machine inside your home.

Electric-powered pressure washers, on the other hand, are great for small decks, patios, furniture, and other jobs that require cleaning rather than heavy-duty stain removal. They typically pump 1,000 to 1,800 pounds of water per square inch and are relatively quiet, easy to use, and need little upkeep. Electric pressure washers create no exhaust emissions, can be started and stopped with a trigger or button, and are small enough to be stored indoors without winterizing. The downsides to electric power washers, though, are that they clean more slowly and you need to be near an outlet to use them.

Cold Water VS Hot Water

Another major differentiating factor to consumer pressure washers is whether they use cold water or hot water. As with gas vs electric, each has its uses, and depending on what you plan on using your power washer for, one may be better suited for your needs than the other.

Cold water pressure washers rely solely on the mechanical force of water to dislodge filth and grime, and are ideal for removing dirt and cleaning surfaces. They are often higher pressure than hot water washers, so the pressure of the water alone is usually more than enough to break down dirt. Cold power washers are popular because they are usually less expensive and constructed more simply. They also tend to be more practical for some as they are smaller, which makes them easier to move around.

If the surface you are cleaning has oil or grease on it, however, a cold pressure washer will not clean as well as a hot water pressure washer. And where hot water pressures may lose out in water pressure per square inch, they make up for in cleaning tough stains. Hot power washers also have the ability to create steam, which can add to your cleaning power. They do tend to be larger, bulkier, and slightly more expensive than cold pressure washers, though, and require a bit more maintenance.

Additional Pressure Washer Features, Tools, and Accessories

Many pressure washers come with the option to purchase additional tools and accessories to make your job easier. These often allow you to do your work more quickly and with better results.

  1. Pressure washer nozzles come color-coded to indicate the narrowness and force of the spray. Some include multiple-in-one spray nozzle options. Otherwise, you can purchase interchangeable nozzle tips to change pressure and flow.
  2. Some spray nozzles also rotate for added cleaning and others come with built-in soap dispensers.
  3. Consider purchasing extension wands and spray tips if you are frequently cleaning second-stories or high areas.
  4. Angled wands can help you clean gutters and other hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Soaps and chemicals are available based on the specific surfaces you are cleaning. Be sure to only use products that are recommended by your pressure washer manufacturer.
  6. Some large pressure washers come equipped on trailers to be easily attached to your car or truck and hauled to your cleaning location.

Safety Tips

Last (but definitely not least), ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you when using your pressure washer is important. Regardless of how practiced you may be at using a pressure washer, safety should always be on your mind!

  1. Stand on a stable surface when using your pressure washer. Standing on ladders or unbalanced ground can cause you to lose footing, slip, and fall.
  2. Wear eye protection to avoid anything getting sprayed or blown into your eyes. Consider wearing hearing protection when using a gas-powered pressure washer.
  3. Never leave the spray gun unattended when the pressure washer is running.
  4. Be sure you are using the correct nozzle and spray setting. Using too much power or spraying something too close can damage some surfaces.
  5. Be aware of who or what is around you and where you are directing the spray. Never spray people, animals, or plants with your pressure washer. Keep the spray away from electrical fixtures, power sources, and power lines.

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