Insider’s Guide: Power and Pressure Washing Unmasked

Power and Pressure Washing Explained

The process of using high-pressure water spray to remove paints, dust, dirt, etc. from the surface of buildings, vehicles, or concrete surfaces is referred to as pressure washing or power washing. But first thing first, we often assume these two terms as similar. But there are slight differences between them. In power washing, the water used for the spray is heated and in a pressure washer, water is not heated. There is some advantage we can gain from the heated water like it removes the mildew, salt, and grease very easily. Hot water makes it easier to clean the surface. But it is not applicable in the case of soil or area which cannot handle the warmer spray. This is when we use only a pressure washer.

Pressure or power washing is popular due to its simplicity and efficiency. It is very easy to handle and helps to reduce allergies, minimize hazards and improve aesthetics. Some uses of pressure and power washer are:

  • The exterior wall of all types of residential and commercial buildings.
  • Roofs, sideways, walkways, driveways, decks, patios.
  • Open areas, fences, parking garages and lots.
  • Washing any kind of vehicles (mainly used for truck fleet washing and heavy machinery).
  • Removal of paint from wood, metal, plastic, brick and concrete surfaces.

A pressure washer usually consists of two to four high-pressure jets on a rotating bar that swivels while water is flowing. It uses nozzles to alter the direction of flow and velocity of the water which allows the user to apply more pressure or reach more distance. Nozzles are selected based on the height and structure of the surface to be cleaned.

Benefits of Using a Power/Pressure Washer

It is the most effective and cost-friendly way to wash the house, office buildings, and any kind of facades on regular basis. Pressure washing can carry an array of benefits for the property owners or the businesses. Because a clean and aesthetically beautiful building will always create a good impression on the clients. Regularly pressure washing your building will:

  • Improve the overall curb appeal of the building.
  • Prevent repairing costs as the algae, mold, dirt could wear away the materials and damage the structure.
  • Create a fresh and better experience for the clients and employees when pressure-washed the associated spaces like sideways, walkways, parking lots.
  • Prevent the health injuries which occur due to algae and other pollutants when walkways or sideways become slippery.
  • Help to remove the graffiti from the wall surface.
  • Offer an easier way to wash the vehicles especially the private cars regularly.

Risks of Using a Power Washer

Power washers or pressure can break the exterior objects, vinyl panels, creating holes, etc. Some of the risks associated with these tools are:

  • While using the washer it is likely to shoot the water up towards the top of the house. There are usually vents in that area of the house where water can go through. If water gets into your attic, it may result in wood rot on the beams in this case.
  • It can cause serious wounds to individuals if not handled properly.
  • If the instructions are not followed properly, it might create an electric shock. It also uses various cleaning chemicals which can cause adverse health problems if seep into a crack or wound.

Handling these tools without proper experience may also lead to expensive repairing costs. In this case, hiring a professional with vast experience in cleaning would come in handy. As power washing and pressure washing are gaining popularity day by day, companies like Racoons power washing are offering professional services for businesses and homeowners which are very cost and time-effective.

All in all, this is the most cost effective home improvement technique. If done well it almost never disappoint.

Do you know which type of pressure washer you want?

If you buy a power pressure for the first time, you might need basic information. Some of it will also help you with effortless use of the pressure washer.

Insider’s Guide Power and Pressure Washing Unmasked

Electric pressure washers

Electric pressure washers will give 1,300 to 1,400 psi pressure and need 1-1/2 GPM. They represent the most appropriate light-duty cleaning options: outdoor washing grills, cars, and garage floors.

The electric models are affordable and run relatively quietly. They’re also lightweight and easier to carry around than gas-powered washers. Many electric power washers come with built-in tanks so that you can use them with detergent. Keep in mind to connect your electric power washer to power outlets to protect ground fault circuit interrupter. Also, only use 12- or 14- gauge extension cords.

Gas pressure washers

Gas-powered washers deliver higher water pressure than the electric models, with some having as high as 3,000 psi. Such models also require water (2 to 3gpm) and make the right option for extensive projects like preparing to the side for painting. You can also use them to deep clean concrete surfaces and remove “aging” stains from wood decks.

With prices ranging from $300 to $800, we understand why you might want to rent and not buy a gas-powered power pressure. The higher the pressure they deliver, the better the features, pump, and engine, the higher the price will be. You can rent a gas-powered model at tool rental stores, and accessories are also available. You might need long spray wands to reach high places or chemical injectors for some jobs.

The spray nozzle

Pressure washers that give less than 2,400 psi feature a single spray nozzle (it’s adjustable) that offers zero to 60-degree fan patterns. “turbo” and “rotating” nozzles are also available. They are more effective at cleaning than regular spray nozzles because they can also spin the water stream.

Heavy-duty models come with four or five separate nozzle tips (color-coded). They can create specific fan patterns such as:

  • Narrow for blasting deep stains
  • Medium for general cleaning
  • Wide for cleaning with detergents.

How to use the nozzle tip

Retract the quick-coupling collar to insert the individual tip into the spray wand and push the tip as far as possible. Release the collar and pull on the tip to check out if it’s securely locked in position. Make sure not to point the spray wand to people and proceed with cleaning.

Pressure washer- the tips to use it efficiently

When you work with tools, you need to be cautious and follow all steps to reduce the risk of injuries and improper operation.

The gas-powered washer

Most pressure washers intimidate inexperienced users, so make sure you ask for help the first time you use one.

  • Clean the debris from the inlet filter
  • Connect accessories, if need be
  • Run water through the washer for 60 seconds. You should do it to prime the system and remove air.
  • Squeeze the spray want the trigger to bleed the water pressure
  • Start the engine by pulling the starter cord

Water supply

The water supply should give the GPM (gallons per minute) that your pressure washer needs. The water has to circulate without stopping through the system, so verify the water inlet filter or screen and clean it of debris. Both the garden and pressure hoses should be kink-free.

See that the water flows through the washer and out the spray wand. Take the following steps to use the pressure washer:

  • Tighten hose connections so that no air gets inside the lines
  • Prevent recoil/kickback by setting the spray want to no/low pressure. Set the pressure washer on low and wide fan settings. If you use a gas washer with an individual nozzle tip, the tip shouldn’t be in place at this point.
  • Turn on the water faucet completely. Prime the pump and eliminate air from the system by squeezing the spray wand trigger.
  • Brace the foot against a wheel and steadily pull the starter cord of your gas unit. Let it warm up by running it for a minute. Avoid damaging the pump and don’t run the washer for more than 5 minutes while the trigger is off.
  • Adjust the pressure and spray settings while the washer is running and the trigger is “off.” If applicable, you can insert the nozzle tip in the spray wand. You may now use the pressure washer as planned.

What are the most common cleaning techniques?

Cleaning siding

You wash siding when you prepare to paint. Start with placing the wand’s nozzle 4ft away from the house and move slowly once you get the cleaning result. Use both hands to grip the spray wand and orientate the water stream at a 45-degree angle to the siding. Don’t stop moving the water stream.

This procedure removes dirt and grime and it’s not made to eliminate mildew or strip paint. You should test the pressure setting in an inconspicuous place for the best cleaning results without damaging the surface.

Please don’t use the pressure washer to spray windows as you will break them, and always rinse the siding by working from the top down. Use long and overlapping strokes for even cleaning.

Insider’s Guide Power and Pressure Washing Unmasked

Cleaning with detergents

You can clean your car or other items with detergent and an appropriate accessory brush. Begin with rinsing the area with water and continue with the detergent. Needless to say, you have to rinse in the end.

When you use detergent, you get to clean better and faster than when not using detergents. Don’t run bleach in the machine or use detergents that aren’t made for the pressure washer—you risk damaging the washer’s internal parts.

We remind you that you can only use a wide spray pattern when running detergent through the pressure washer. Moreover, you have to set an electric model in a low-pressure setting. Check out the machine’s instructions on using detergents, diluting, and hook the chemical injector.

Begin with loosening the dirt with plain water under high pressure with a medium spray pattern. Use the wide nozzle setting to apply the detergent and let it work for several minutes. Make sure to keep the surface wet so that you don’t discolor or damage it. Reset the nozzle to a medium pattern and rinse with plain water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you turn the water on before you start the pressure washer?

Avoid hooking the pressure washer to a portable water source. Turn on the water and let the pressure washer hose fill with water. It’s essential to remove the excess air before you start the unit. You only need to squeeze the trigger on the gun to release the air.

What shouldn’t you do with a pressure washer?

You should never use the pressure washer on humans, pets, and plants. The force of water coming out from the pressure washer will cause injuries and even penetrate the skin. It will definitely destroy the plants too. On a side note, you should always put on safety glasses when using the pressure washer to protect your eyes from debris.

Is it possible to use a garden hose on a pressure washer?

You can use a garden hose for the pressure washer. Pressures washers are made to withstand a high-pressure level, which ranges from 1,300 to 2,400 psi. Some models can give pressure of 4,000psi, so strong hoses are necessary. Unless you intend to use high pressure, you can safely use your garden hose for the pressure washer.

Can you use vinegar in the pressure washer?

Some people prefer using a solution made with water and white vinegar for the washes. White vinegar is an effective cleaning solution and it’s safe to use with the pressure washer. In case of stubborn stains, you will get results with white vinegar.

Is there a difference between the power washer and the pressure washer?

The heat makes for the main difference between power washing and pressure washing. The jet wash in the power washing machine uses heated water, whereas the water in the pressure washer is cold. It’s easier to clean with heated water than with cold one. It’s similar to washing your clothes or dishes—hot water gives the best results most of the time.

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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