The consumers of today now have a wide range of pressure washing equipment to choose from, whether for rental or for purchase. Compared to a few years ago, today it has never been easier for consumers to power wash their homes, facades, driveways and decks. However, just like any machine, a pressure washer can be dangerous in the hands of the uninformed. Power washing requires preparation and a certain amount of knowledge to ensure safe and proper operation.
Here are a few handy pressure washing tips to get you started. The information in this article may help prevent a disastrous cleaning mess in your hands.
1. Select the right machine for the job
People who sell or own pressure washers talk about the PSI a lot. PSI, or pounds per square inch, refers to the water pressure of the water output. The electric motor or engine is responsible for the water pressure boost. While the PSI is an important barometer of how pressurised the water is, another important marker is the GPM.
GPM, or gallons per minute, refers to the amount of water flow. A pressure washer with a higher GPM and a lower PSI usually cleans better than a machine with a low GPM and high PSI.
You also want to get a washer tool that can dispense cleaning product along with the water. The cleaning product depends on the surface that requires cleaning, but it could be detergent, bleach, and the like. Cleaning a surface without chemicals takes longer and the clean won’t last as long. Adding a bit of chlorine to the water will make for a better clean and deters mould and mildew from returning.
2. Safety first
Pressure washers are incredibly dangerous in the hands of the ill-equipped and unprepared. Many incidents have been documented where people have been seriously injured by the high-pressure spray. The water blast can damage concrete, brick and glass, and a high-pressure water spray hitting human skin is like a knife slicing through butter.
Power washing machines, especially the newer models, can strip paint off a surface in mere seconds. Power washer users should wear the appropriate face, eye and ear protection. I also highly recommend wearing long-sleeved shirts, work boots and heavy-duty gloves.
Before activating the spray gun, the user should pay close attention to the direction of the nozzle. They should ensure that the work area is clear of people and should think ahead when manoeuvring the stream. Users should also be extra careful around fragile structures such as doors, frames, windows and screen enclosures. A water blast with a high enough PSI can seriously damage those structures.
The user should also take into account the weather and wind direction. A strong enough gust can change the water jet’s direction. When working against the wind, a sudden gust can blow the jet right back at you.
Users should always remember that every part of the washer machine’s system, from the motors and piping to the hoses and gun, is under intense pressure. A small hole or tear can cause the entire system to fall apart and the result can be quite disastrous. Users should always prioritise their safety as well as of those around them.
3. Power wash in moderation
Many power washer novices assume that the higher the pressure setting, the better the cleaning. Using that same logic, a cake that is usually baked at 200 degrees for an hour can be done in 15 minutes at 800 degrees. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way.
When cleaning decks and houses, the user should start at the lowest setting and jack the pressure up when the situation requires it. The type of surface that requires cleaning dictates the amount of pressure that is required.
Do not forget to consult the user’s manual. Different washer machine systems use varying setting levels. Switch between nozzles if required, but start at the widest nozzle first.
When applying chemicals, start from the ground and work your way up. Do the opposite when rinsing: Wash from the top and work your way down.
4. Protect the surrounding area
It’s not enough to cover sensitive structures such as windows, doors, vents, etc. when pressure washing, you also have to think about things nearby that could be affected by the water jet and the chemicals. Two things often neglected by people are the plants and cars.
The chemicals could kill the plants, and damage the car’s paint. I highly suggest rinsing them with clean water before, during and after power washing to remove any stray chemicals that might have contaminated its surfaces.