Pressure washers are seriously addictive – FACT! There is nothing better than sitting down at the end of the day knowing that you’ve given your car/bike/caravan/patio/decking/BBQ or garden furniture a good old clean with the pressure washer and it now looks like new again! In fact, you will probably be racking your brains thinking about what else you could possibly clean with it.
Domestic power washers remove stubborn dirt and grime that you might have struggled to get off by scrubbing alone, even with detergents. No home should be without one (in our opinion).
Once you purchase a domestic pressure washer, you will seriously wonder how you ever lived without one and will probably decide there and then that you will always have one in your life. The only problem you will have, once you have decided to buy, is choosing a model that will suit your needs. After all, there are so many types, sizes, pressure values, and price variants of pressure washers on the market.
This article will look at what they can do, how they work and what size and power machine will be the perfect match for you.
Types of pressure washer
As is the demand with lots of tools and machines nowadays, battery-powered pressure washers are entering the market. These are cordless machines so no annoying wires to get in a tangle or to trip you up (although you will still need a hose to connect you to your water supply). Cordless also gives you the freedom to use your washer in places where you do not have access to power. The battery pack firstly requires charging and then attaching to the pressure washer. Current models are able to run at quite a high pressure for a period of around 40 minutes The battery powered, cordless models are more expensive than other types of pressure washers and can be heavy due to the size of the battery required. Manufacturers are working on increasing the battery power and therefore the power output/water pressure and reducing the battery size and weight. Watch the market for new cordless versions of pressure washers being released as in the future these should be much improved.
Currently more common than the battery powered and used mainly for commercial needs, the petrol pressure washer is heavier duty than both the battery and the electric models. These machines are great as you do not need to be nearby a power supply but they can be rather cumbersome therefore not usually an obvious choice for home use. Petrol/diesel models have a fuel tank attached and are started in most cases by a pull cord, much like fuel powered lawn mowers..
These are usually the model of choice for the homeowner, recommended for regular use. These pressure washers are in the main more compact than both the battery and petrol options and require you to connect to a mains output as well as a water supply.
Commercial models are a more powerful machine and should be used only by a person of an appropriate skill level for the task in hand.
This article will cover the most popular choice of the electric domestic pressure washer for use around the home.
Only Got 5 Minutes?
Pressure washing or power washing is the use of a high pressure water spray to remove loose paint, mold, grime, dust, mud, dirt and even chewing gum from all kinds of surfaces and objects such as buildings, cars, bikes, boats, patios and decking.
Electric domestic pressure washers need to be connected to both a water and a power supply so you are slightly limited in range by the length of both of these, however, the power cables are fairly long on most models. They work by the electric motor accelerating the water through a pump to produce a high pressured water blast through a lance with a nozzle attachment giving you a concentrated powerful jet to clean with. This will allow you to remove even the most stubborn of dirt and grime, even stuff that’s been around for years.
Once you’ve taken delivery and set up your pressure washer (added nozzles etc), the rest is up to you. Instead of paying for someone to clean your conservatory roof, gutters, wheelie bins, patio, and driveway, you are now able to do all of this yourself and in most cases, do a better job whilst saving a few pennies along the way.
It is so important that you buy a pressure washer suitable for your needs. If you opt for a very powerful model, you could end up causing damage, therefore, it is imperative to look for a ‘domestic’ pressure washer as this will be high powered enough for everything you will need it for in the standard home. There is still a choice of course of a range of powered models for you to choose from.
To choose your model, you need to look for a couple of things, firstly this is water pressure which is measured in Bar and electric models usually range from a Bar of 110 to 180. Bar is the measure of pressure that water is forced out through the nozzle, as such, a machine at the top end of this bracket is more powerful. Some models may measure pressure by psi (pounds per square inch) and the ideal range for a domestic machine is between 1,300 to 1,700. There is also another measure to look out for and that is litres per hour or gallons per minute (l/h or gpm). This measures the volume of water flow. A typical home pressure was would be around 410 l/h or 1.5 gpm.
Another aspect to check when selecting your pressure washer is the pump. Check if the pump has been produced by the manufacturer or elsewhere. A good pump will ensure your machine performs better and lasts for long. As with most electrical items and tools, it is always better to buy from a good, reputable brand where you can be assured of longer service life, access to spare parts and in most cases a buyer’s warranty. As the saying goes ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’.
I’m Getting Attached!
Even a pressure washer model on the cheaper end of the market will come with various attachments allowing you to perform different tasks and providing you buy from a good manufacturer, you should be able to pick up spares, replacements and other attachments you may need from your local DIY store or online.
Pressure washer nozzles change the direction of the water and also the velocity. They allow the user to reach a greater distance or apply more pressure to a surface that is tricky to clean. As mentioned previously, they can be dangerous and cause damage if not used for the specific task they are designed for.
Nozzles are sometimes coded for easy identification, with black nozzles covering the widest degree (65°) and red nozzles covering the least (0°). Great care should be taken when using a 0° nozzle as it can cause injury to the user and damage to surfaces. Many models now come with one nozzle that covers everything and can be altered to use varying degrees of pressure for the task you are undertaking.
Guide to Lances/Nozzles
Depending on which manufacturer you choose, there may be a slight difference in the lances and nozzles enclosed. Some are colour coded, some are graded and some are just descriptive. Below will give you an idea of what might be included and what tasks they perform best. It is always worth researching what your pressure washer comes with as there is nothing more disappointing than taking your delivery and then realising you do not have everything you need to get started.
- Black – 65 degree/soaping This is a low pressure nozzle and works well when combined with detergent.
- White – 40 degree/spraying. Works well for fragile items such as windows.
- Green – 25 degree/lifting. This is probably the most commonly used nozzle, great for washing cars, patios, driveways etc.
- Yellow – 15 degree/stripping. Great for prepping surfaces for painting etc.
- Red – 0 degree/blast. Rarely used as it’s spray covers such a small surface area. The force of the water makes it very dangerous. Can be used for removing mud from construction equipment or blasting rust.
- Blue – mixer nozzle. This is one nozzle that can be fitted to your wand, combining all the different pressures by turning then end to your preferred setting.
There are other attachments that you can also purchase like the large circular cleaning plate which works really well on patios and other floor surfaces, an extendable wand should you need to reach further or a brush which is useful for covering large surfaces. Some models will come with these as standard so it is worth reading up to find out what is included with the models before you purchase.
Preparing Your Pressure Washer for Use/Safety Guide
When you are ready to use your pressure washer, you need to carry out a few checks firstly to make sure it is safe. Check all of the connections because they must be secure when you use the equipment and that the electric cord is in good shape with no fraying. Make sure there are no blockages and that the water strainer is in the right place then choose the lance/nozzle you need for the task you are undertaking and install this properly to the hose. Most have a click and lock system in place.
Then, turn on your pressure washer and allow that and the hose to fill with water. Once you have done this, you are good to go!
Here are a few other hints and tips to make sure you get the best from your pressure washer and don’t cause a trail of destruction along the way.
- Always read the manufacturers handbook before starting
- Protect yourself accordingly, wellington boots, waterproof clothing and if necessary, protective goggles
- Protect nearby plants, equipment, and buildings (in fact anything that you do not want blasting)
- Ensure nozzles are attached whilst the pressure is locking on the ‘off’ setting
- Hold the lance at an angle
- Start on a low setting, pressure can be increased if required
- Practice firstly by cleaning an area that is hidden
- Start with the nozzle a couple of feet away from the surface of the area or item that you are cleaning, you can always move closer should you need to
- Use in up and down motions, start at the bottom, move up and then back down again to rinse
- Have fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use your pressure washer indoors but need to be mindful of the pressure output/nozzle you use. Pressure washers are a great cleaning tool for tiled floors and bathroom tiles, reducing the time it would take manually substantially.
It is not safe and therefore not advised to use your electric pressure washer if it is raining. Even though the machine is using water, it is an electrical item and the rain could damage the machine or cause an electric shock. Do not use during rain or if it has recently rained outside.
Pressure washers are pretty noisy. This is due to the motor and the water jet, therefore, it is advisable to wear hearing protection whilst operating your machine. Electric models tend to be quieter than it’s petrol equivalent.