Power Washer Tips
Version Date: April 21, 2012
1. Plan and Position.
When you get on a cleaning roll with your pressure washer, there
is little that's more frustrating than to be unable to reach that last
spot along the wall or fence or car. With a garden hose, we are often
tempted simply to tug on it and get a few more feet of use. But a tug
on the pressure washer hose can be quite disappointing because you can
break something. Some electric pressure washers have plastic connectors
for attaching the garden hose to the unit. Even if your connectors are
all solid, a tug is likely to knock the unit over and not get you the
additional distance you need.
Remember that you have three connections and three "hoses" to deal
with: the garden hose from hose bib to the washer, the pressure water
hose from washer to the washer gun, and the electric cord from washer
to an outlet. Position the washer so that you have all the hose reach
you need while still enabling the other two hookups. If you have
difficulty, remember that you can always get a longer garden hose:
instead of 25 feet, there is 50, 75, and even 100 feet.
2. Approach carefully. In fact,
be really careful in general. A power washer is not a toy. Well, okay,
it is a toy, but it's a serious toy that can cause damage or injury if
used carelessly. Wear eye protection, hide the dog, close the windows.
Don't let a 13-year-old kid use it unsupervised. When you are
first ready to wash, point the washer nozzle at the ground and pull the
trigger. You might be thinking you left off with the nozzle in fan
pattern when you actually left it in point shape. If you aim at a
window close up with the point spray, you might just knock it out.
"Look, dear, how clean the windows are."
"That's great, honey, but why is there broken glass and water all over
the living room?"
3. Follow the Power Washer Intensity
Rule. The power washer intensity rule is, The softer the target,
the farther away, the bigger the fan, and the larger the angle you
should spray. Following these guidelines appropriately will let you
knock the aphids off the rose bushes without hurting the bushes.
Following these guidelines inappropriately will let you tear those rose
bushes to shreds.
4. Remember that water is a solvent.
While electric pressure washers are amazing cleaners (even though they
might not have the power of the gas powered big brothers), they don't
always work instantly on built up grime. If you use the washer to wet
down the surface first, and then after a minute or so come back and
rewash, you might be surprised at how well just plain water can clean.
5. Be Patient. Some surfaces
come clean with one wipe. In fact, you can sweep your driveway or
walkway very efficiently with an electric power washer and save a lot
of water. Many of the electric washers use only about a gallon and a
half of water per minute, while a garden hose will put out anywhere
from about 10 to 88 gallons a minute, depending on hose size, length,
and water pressure. (A 50 foot, 5/8" hose on a 60psi water system will
pump out 28 gallons per minute, according to the University
of Idaho.)But I digress. For most uses, you'll need to go slow and
use repeat passes. Exceptions like garage door rinsing and car washing
shouldn't deceive you into assuming instantaneous cleaning of stained
walls. Rust, moss, mildew, dirt stains, all require awhile to remove.
6. Consider the Overspray. I
almost titled this, "Consider the Neighbors," but I soon realized that
thoughtless overspray could hit the patio furniture, a sunbather in the
backyard, laundry hung on a clothesline, the dog, and of course, the
neighbor's fancy car. The point is, if you're cleaning along the top of
a wall, for instance, the spray can easily shoot past the top as you
move the wand. If you have a fairly narrow nozzle setting, the
spray can go twenty feet beyond the wall. And even with a fan pattern,
overspray can do something undesirable if you're not careful. So look
beyond the immediate place you are going to clean and think about the
possibility of water where you don't want it to go.
7. Add a Brush. Problem solving
theory tells us that the goal of problem solving is to solve the
problem, not to implement a particular solution path. So, if after you
have duly and patiently applied the power washer spray to an unusually
difficult spot, don't be too proud to grab a scrub brush and run over
it to loosen the dirt. Then hit the spot again with the power washer.
(If you're asking, What's the point of having a power washer if you
have to use a scrub brush anyway? then let me ask you an analogous
question: What's the point of having a box wrench if you sometimes have
to use a breaker bar with a socket on it?) Anyway, it's legal to use a
hand-operated brush to assist the washer or even to get a brush fitting
that connects to the washer and spins as it sprays.
8. Don't Be Stupid. The owner's
manual that came with my electric power washer features 27 warnings
against behavior that should be obviously not a good idea. For example,
for people who think it's great to use a hair dryer in the
bathtub, there is a warning against using the washer while barefoot. Or
my favorite, "Never spray an electrical outlet." Let's see, what
part of water + electricity = death
by electrocution don't you understand? And for flamethrower
buffs, there's the "Never spray flammable liquids." I know that's a
bummer if you were planning on torching your backyard. Finally, don't
try to use it to clean skin. You might end up cleaning bone.
2012 by Robert Harris | How
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About the author:
Harris is a writer
and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the
and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com