Cold weather doesn’t necessarily have to mean packing away your pressure washer until spring. While many of us may not want to pressure wash anything in sub-zero temperatures, busy power washing professionals have to work through all seasons. With a little preparation, however, using pressure washers this winter doesn’t have to turn you or the machine into Mr. Freeze. Follow these tips to help prolong the life of your power washer in colder weather.
Protecting Yourself from the Cold
Before you worry about your power washer, remember to protect yourself from winter’s harsh climate!
- Dress for the weather. Even though you may not feel cold while you are actively moving around outdoors, hypothermia and frostbite are very real possibilities when working outside during winter. Wear a hat, gloves, and warming layers under water resistant pants and a jacket. Cover exposed skin. You may even want to consider wearing rubber boots and goggles as well.
- Protect yourself from slips and falls. Before you begin working, remember to de-ice your workspace. For your safety as well as the safety of others around you, consider that the water from your pressure washer will need to run somewhere, and if it’s winter, it’ll likely freeze rather quickly and turn the area into an ice skating rink. Be sure you apply salt or sand before you start working, which will help prevent the ground from freezing and becoming slippery. You may also want to consider spiked shoes or boot chains for footwear, as the spray force of a power wash can also be enough to knock you off your feet when standing on ice.
Protecting Your Pressure Washer from the Cold
These tips can help your power washer work at its best and keep it working longer during the winter months.
- Remember, your cleaning chemicals will be less effective in the cold. You’ll want to consider either using powdered chemicals with a hot water pressure washer (powder mixes better in hot water and it will not freeze, resulting in a faster cleaning job) or plan on using extra liquid chemicals and taking more time to finish the job. When not in use, do not let your chemicals freeze. Store them in a dry, warm place.
- Prevent anything from freezing inside your pressure washer when not in use. Water expands when it freezes and turns to ice, so it can cause serious damage to the inside of your machine. Liquid cleaning chemicals can freeze inside the machine as well. Protect your equipment when not in use by using automotive antifreeze or windshield washer fluid. Fill the empty float tank, start up your power washer, and flush out the water with the antifreeze. Always keep your pressure washer stored indoors when not in use.
- Work smarter, not harder. Try working in the middle of the afternoon and avoid working in the shade as direct sunlight can help your machines stay warm. If you wan, mount your pressure washing equipment in an enclosed trailer. You’ll also probably want to use a hot water pressure washer instead of a cold water pressure washer. When the machine is being used, cover exposed piping and faucets with heat tape and consider freeze-proofing valves. If you do need to thaw parts of your equipment, using a hair drying or heat gun is a safer option than a torch. Keep the water supply hoses flowing with water so they don’t freeze. When finished with a job, drain your water hose by disconnecting it, laying it out in a straight line, and walking down the hose with it over your shoulder, allowing the water to empty.
Preparing Your Pressure Washer for Winter Storage
If you are planning on leaving your pressure washer stored until the weather warms up, following these precautionary measures will ensure your machine stays in top working order when you are ready to use it.
- Flush out the water. Any water left in the system has the potential to freeze and damage your pressure washer. Avoid this by flushing out all the leftover water and cleaning detergent from the system. You can do this by placing the injection tube of your power washer in a bucket of clean water and running the machine on a low pressure setting for a few minutes. Once done, turn the engine and water supply off. Squeeze the trigger of your spray nozzle to relieve any pressure, then disconnect and dry all attachments before putting them in storage.
- Stabilize the gasoline. You’ll want to consider adding a stabilizer to the fuel tank of your machine to ensure the gas doesn’t clog the fuel lines. Follow the directions on the stabilizer of your choice, run your pressure washer’s engine for a few minutes to circulate the stabilizer throughout the system, then shut it off.
- Use pump saver. Using a pump saver as an extra measure can also help, as it prevents moisture from forming (and freezing) in the pump of your power washer. It can also prevent mineral deposits from building up. You can apply the pump saver of your choice through the hose inlet of your pump and fill the chamber. Allow the chemical to stay in the pump all winter and drain it before you use your machine in the spring.