If you’re in the market for a pressure washer, chances are you already have a few projects in mind. However, once you actually own a new pressure washer, chances are you will find even more uses for it.
Why Pressure Washers?
Simply, pressure washers save you time and money. What once took a lot of time and more elbow grease than you had in store, now takes mere minutes with a pressure washer.
Not only do you save on valuable time, but pressure washers also drastically decrease the amount of water you need to use for a job. That’s money in your pocket, too.
Scrubbing siding, washing windows, cleaning your car; chiseling residue off the lawnmower deck, the BBQ grill, or the concrete; prepping wood or metal for paint; power washing your deck; getting the dirt off patio furniture and lattice work, gates, and fencing. All these things are made so much easier with the help of a power washer.
Pressure Washer Buyer’s Guide
Powering Your Washer
The first thing you should think about is what kind of power source you want for your pressure washer.
You can go with electric, gasoline, or diesel.
Electric :Electric pressure washers are less expensive to purchase, and are going to require less upkeep than fuel-powered models. They are quite convenient, just plug in and go.
Electric units with universal motors are cheaper, but will not last as long as units with induction motors. Weigh your cost versus durability concerns when choosing between these.
Electric washers are going to be tethered by a cord, so don’t expect to be able to go very far with them.
Also, in very wet situations, you might not want to be mixing electricity and water.
Gasoline:Gas-powered pressure washers are great for power and portability.
Gas offers more PSI than electricity, and you can take your machine anywhere you can run a hose.
Gas-powered pressure washers will require at least once-a-year maintenance to keep them running and performing properly.
Diesel:Diesel fuel offers the same benefits as gasoline, with the added bonus of increased engine life. Of course, a more durable motor will cost you a little more at the outset.
Basically, the choice of fuel is up to you, and you should weigh your budget concerns with the types of jobs you will be doing most often.
The pounds-per-square-inch available varies by pressure washer. Look for a PSI rating that suits your needs. Most homeowners do just fine in the 1000 to 3000 PSI range, whereas professionals tend to lean into the 3000-plus PSI range.
Hot or Not?
Another option you might consider is a pressure washer with built-in heater.
Most people find a cold-water washer does the job just fine, however, if you frequently need to tackle grease, graffiti, or deep-set staining, you might want the added strength of hot water.
Hot water models are going to be more expensive than cold-water ones, and will require some additional maintenance to keep the heating elements running properly.
Many pressure washers come with an assortment of nozzles, or you can purchase these separately.
Common nozzle sizes include 0, 15, 25, and 40. The numbers indicate the degree to which the water fans out from the wand.
The zero tip has little to no fanning, and creates a thin, sharp stream.
This tip is used for cutting-type applications like removing caked-on residue from mower decks, grills, and concrete. This tip is very precise and very sharp. Be sure to use caution and avoid any contact with skin, as this will certainly cause serious injury.
The 15-degree tip creates a narrow fan useful for chiseling applications. This is used for things like prepping wood and siding for painting, or resurfacing a weathered deck.
The 25-degree tip is a wider fan most often used in washing situations like cleaning leaves and dirt from walkways. This is also a useful size for intricate things like fencing and lattice.
The 40-degree tip is an even wider fan with less pressure, for jobs that require a lighter touch, like washing glass, outdoor furniture, and autos.
If you plan to use soap or chemicals with your pressure washer, there are special tips and feeders for this. Be sure to get the right equipment to avoid contaminating your machine or your water supply.
If you don’t plan to use your washer very often, or you only use it for light-duty work, it’s fine to go for a less expensive model—something in the area of $400.
If you plan to put some miles on your washer, invest in a more expensive model. As with most power tools, higher price usually means more dependability and durability. In this case you are looking at spending $800 or more.
If you rely on a pressure washer as part of your business, consider investing in a machine that starts in the $2,000 range. Some tow-behind models cost as much as $10,000.
Pressure Washer Maintenance
Pressure washers require periodic maintenance.
Gasoline and diesel-powered models need regular fuel and oil checks and changes, just like any engine.
Be sure to keep your hose clean and wrapped up properly to avoid damage and kinks, and replace hose if it shows signs of wear or puncture.
Check water intake screens to be sure they are free of sediment.
To winterize your pressure washer, empty the fuel or add fuel stabilizer, run anti-freeze through the pump, and perform a final oil change,