29 Mar What you should know about a pressure washer before using one…
Posted at 16:37h
A pressure washer (also known as a power washer) is a commonly misunderstood tool that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Most folks think that because it works with high pressure, the higher the PSI (pounds per square inch), the better it will clean. That’s not always correct, and we can explain why.
How it works:
A power washer cleans by pushing a jet of water out of a nozzle at a reasonably high PSI – typically around 1500–3000 pounds per square inch or psi to blast surface dirt. The water hits the surface with high kinetic energy to hit dirt much like a jackhammer drilling away on concrete or asphalt. And, it’s that comparison to a jackhammer that anyone using a high PSI power washer should keep in mind before handling one. Aimed at the wrong surface, including a person, the damage from a power washer can be severe.
Many people mistakenly believe that simply using a higher pressure means a better or more effective clean. Except that high pressure isn’t always very effective at cleaning, especially if it’s not a hard, impervious surface. While pressure washers do tend to be most effective on hard surfaces like concrete and brick, a power washer can cause significant surface damage. Why? Because at some point, either the pressure itself or the continuous application of the water pressure can begin to tear the surface, even a hard one like concrete or brick. Remember that jackhammer analogy?
A common reason for using a pressure washer to get rid of mold or other stains. The problem is that these aren’t always removed by a non-commercial application. Then, seeing that the stain or mold isn’t disappearing, an inexperienced homeowner will often opt for higher pressure or move the nozzle closer to the surface. Rather than remove a stain, the higher pressure instead causes surface damage.
- It’s much more difficult to control the wand of a pressure washer when using higher PSI. The likelihood of injury yourself is exponentially higher and inexperienced users should never attempt to use a pressure washer while standing on a ladder!
- Paint can be chipped from wood siding at higher PSI.
- Soft woods like on decks or patio furniture can be defaced and even stripped by high pressure.
- Windows and window sills can have their vapor barriers and wood damaged or broken from pressure.
- An uneven application of the water pressure can cause what’s known as “striping” – some areas more obviously clean than others causing a stripe effect on the surface. This a common sign of inexperienced pressure users.
Things to know:
- Pressure washers use a lot of water – typically 1.5–2 gallons per minute, so you’ll need good drainage in the area you’re washing.
- They’re very noisy.
- While shooting water at a surface, nearby areas will become dirty. Be prepared to consider the direction of the wand and water and the potential effect on the surroundings.
- Always wear waterproof, protective overalls and hard shoes.
- Although power washers are safe to use (and rated for use) around water, never use an older model with frayed cords or parts where you risk electricity coming in contact with water.
If you’re ready to hire professionals to safely do your power washing, please call us to schedule a date. We are experts in commercial application and use of a pressure washer.
Mike Katounas is the owner of Home Works Painting, a painting business in Northern Virginia. He has over 15 years of experience in residential interior and exterior painting, drywall installation/repair, carpentry, wallpaper removal, power washing, commercial painting, color consultation, and staining/sealing. Their service areas include Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Oakton, Reston. Mike takes pride in his work, and he always follows a strict code of conduct that includes the use of quality paint, a clean workspace, and an honest, respectful approach to his customers.