Pressure washer has been around for number of years now. The machine provide good alternative to the traditional scrubbing and scouring. The powerful water coming out from the washer can easily clean our concrete wall, pavement or vehicles without much effort. The pressure washer also helps us cleaning hard to get places.
However the advancement of technology selecting the right pressure washer is becoming more difficult. We as consumers have so many options to choose from. There are many factors to be considered. This short explanation should be able to provide you enough information so you can make your own judgment. It is not difficult if know all the facts.
Before we delve into the technical parts let learn some history behind the technology.
The History of Pressure washer
The first hot-water pressure washer was invented by Alfred Kärcher in 1950 in western Germany, which started the groundwork for the company’s future. Little he knows that the Kärcher Company will be the industry leader.
However Frank Ofeldt also claimed to have invented the steam pressure washer way back in 1927 when he invented the high-pressure Jenny. I’m still looking for additional information on this claim. I’ll share with you if I find any.
The technology behind the machine
Surprisingly the technology behind the machine is fairly basic. In general there are motor, pump, high pressure hose, a tank for holding water, a tank for holding air and the trigger gun.
When the motor runs it will build up pressure in the system. When we squeeze the trigger, the water will be forced out through the tips . The tips will restrict the water flow. As a result it will force the water to move out at higher speed. This provides the necessary momentum for the water to remove all the dirt. In a simple word, the higher the pressure the move cleaning power the machine has.
Working with high pressure equipment will always carry some risk. We should observe all the safety aspect while working with the equipment.
Before starting any work make sure we have proper personal protection equipment (PPE). For pressure washer the basic requirement will be safety goggle, working gloves, ears protectors and proper working attire.
The safety goggle will protect our priceless eyes from flying debris. We will never be able to predict what items will be flying around when the water jet hit the ground. Safety goggle is a must.
Ears protector is essential especially if we are working for gasoline powered machine, as the machine will produce fairly loud noise. However we might not need the ears protector if we only dealing with electric powered unit.
Proper working attire is also essential work when working with the high pressure machine, especially with the industrial grade washer. Working gloves, proper shoes and proper working attire is important.
The high pressure water can cause serious wound if it hits directly any parts of our body. The wound might look small, but it can escalate to higher risk if it gets infections. So never, point the water jet to a person or any living things.
If we are using electric powered machine, always observe the electricity source. Before starting any work always test the ground fault circuit breaker. That will ensure our safety protection is in good working condition. Additionally make sure electrical source is not in contact with water. Or else we will be exposed to electrical shock.
For gasoline powered machine, make sure there is enough ventilation. Else we are exposing ourselves to carbon monoxide poisoning. To be on safe site, only use gasoline powered washer for outdoor cleaning. Avoid using the machine inside building or partially enclosed spaces.
Things to consider
Here are few facts that we need to understand and consider when buying a pressure washer.
Power – electric or gasoline powered
In general pressure washer are powered by either electric or gasoline. For majority of us, electric powered unit will be more suitable. It doesn’t require much maintenance, and more importantly cost much less. The only set back, we need to make sure electric power sources are available at our working location.
Generally gasoline powered engine is noisier and more suitable for heavy duty use. But it provides more flexibility in term of working location. We don’t have to worry much about power sources. Unfortunately, as mention in the safety section, we should not use gasoline powered unit in a building. Unless if we can locate the machine outside the building. In term of maintenance, gasoline powered washer requires basic maintenance care. If you are familiar with small engine maintenance, then it should not be an issue.
Temperature – cold, warm, hot
Pressure washer manufacturers also offer models that can produce hot or warm water. Seriously I don’t think we need to use hot water for our patio cleaning. Normal water should be able to complete the task without much issue.
However industrial users might have different needs. Some works may require hot water.
Style – handheld, portable, stationary, truck mounted
Pressure washers are offered in various styles. All depend on your needs. Over-all for most home users handheld and portable units are more suitable. Especially we only need the unit for our casual needs like cleaning our car or patio.
For more robust industrial application, stationary or truck mounted might be more appropriate. Truck mounted unit provide flexibility if we need to move from location to another location. I’ll touch more on the truck mounted in one of the articles.
Pressure is one of the most important factors in selecting pressure washer. Pressure rating usually is stated in pound per square inch (psi). The pressure rating tell us how powerful the water going out from the machine. The higher the pressure rating the more powerful the machine will be.
But we need to be very careful in selecting the pressure rating. In selecting the pressure rating we need to consider the suitability of the power. Too much power will cause damage to items that we want to clean. I don’t think that is what we want.
For home users 1000-2800 psi pressure should be strong enough for the general cleaning. Just to give you some ideas, pressure 2000-2800 psi range can easily remove paints. More than enough for our cleaning activities around our house.
However for industrial application, pressure more than 3000 psi might be more appropriate. There is no definite answer for the right pressure though. All depends on what you want to achieve.
Another vital factor the volume of water the pressure washer can spray out. Usually the unit is in gallon per minute (gpm). Normal washer can range from 1.4 gpm till 4 gpm. High pressure washer along with high water volume will deliver a very powerful result. For the best result we should be looking for the most optimum water volume. We should not waste water just for the sake of powerful machine. Of course we should also be looking for something that can save our water bills.
If we need extra hose, always buy hose with suitable rating. Find out your equipment maximum pressure rating and buy hose rating that can meet that number. Having lower pressure rated hose can pose a great danger.
Beside the hose rating, we also need to estimate the length of hose that is suitable for our purposes. The right hose length will help us completing our job in a more effective ways.
Manufacturers also offer various attachments for our convenience. For example if we intend to clean large surface of floor, using surface cleaner will definitely speedup our jobs. The cleaning job will be much faster.
There are many more useful attachments that can speed up our works. We will talk more about that in our future article.
Warranty and after sale
Finally when buying a power washer, always opt for product that has good warranty policy and after sale service. Most units come with one year warranty. However if we use and maintain them properly, they will last for many years.
Share with us how you select your pressure washer. Probably we can share it here.