Cleaning with Power
When a regular garden hose won’t do, consider a pressure washer for outdoor projects that require high-power cleaning. Nothing works faster or more effectively than a professional pressure washer when it comes to heavy-duty outdoor cleaning projects.
You can use a pressure washer to clean surfaces such as debris-ridden sidewalks and driveways. You can even use a pressure washer's powerful stream to strip peeling paint from a deck or house prior to resealing or painting.
For outdoor cleaning, a gas pressure washer is especially fast and efficient. Specifically designed for heavy-duty jobs, large professional pressure washers use comparatively less water than a garden hose. However, even smaller models with lower gallons-per-minute (GPM) and pounds per-square inch (PSI) ratings are fully capable of tackling many common outdoor cleaning projects. Knowing how to interpret PSI and GPM ratings will assist you in choosing the type of pressure washer you will need for your cleaning project.
When choosing a pressure washer, consider the following questions:
• What types of projects do you want to accomplish with your pressure washer?
• How often do you perform these types of projects?
Things to Consider
Most pressure washers work the same. A gas engine or electric motor powers a pump, which increases pressure on water fed by your garden hose. The pressurized water is then delivered through a hose and released through a wand. The spray pattern delivered by the wand is controlled by differently shaped interchangeable nozzles.
Cleaning power is measured by the pressure washer’s PSI rating and GPM rating.
PSI (Pounds per Square Inch): The pressure of water created through the pressure washer. Use the PSI rating to help you determine how powerful the water stream will be.
GPM (Gallons per Minute): The volume of water delivered through the pressure washer. This number will help you determine how fast the pressure washer will clean, as well as how effectively the pressure washer will rinse debris away.
To determine what PSI/GPM rating is right for you, refer to the chart below:
Up to 1.5 GPM
Consumer Electric Motor
Up to 2.5 GPM
Consumer Gas Engine
Up to 4.0 GPM
Professional Gas Engine
|Light duty, less frequent jobs (Car washing, shutter cleaning, spot cleaning, grills, lawn furniture, light mildew/mold removal)||Heavy duty, more frequent jobs (Deck and pavement cleaning, sidewalks, siding tougher stains)||Contractor, tough, very frequent, heavy cleaning jobs (Industrial cleaning, concrete pavement, siding, paint stripping, stubborn stains and mildew)|
Features & Options
Before buying a pressure washer, you must first think about the types of projects you want to complete. This will determine the size and strength washer you’ll need, and how much you will spend.
When purchasing a pressure washer, consider the following options and features:
• When it comes to electric pressure washers, look for a pressure washer that has a ground fault interrupter built into the cord. Note that some require a 20-amp circuit.
• Verify the flow rate of your water supply. Municipal water typically works fine, but well water may cause problems.
• Check to see if the brushes, nozzles and tips match the types of projects you plan to tackle.
• Review pressure washer accessories and attachment options. There are many attachments that are made for specific projects: - Surface cleaner attachment for 10 x faster surface cleaning - Rotating brush attachments - Extension wands for high cleaning - Turbo nozzles for increased cleaning power
• Look for Quick Connect attachment capability (Quick Connect adapters are available for non-capable units). This will allow you to increase your cleaning options very easily; getting more cleaning capability out of your electric or gas pressure washer.
• See if a multi-mode attachment or a multi-mode pressure washer like the 3-in-1 might be what you need. These attachments and units are made to handle a wide variety of cleaning jobs. Surface cleaners are designed to get large surface cleaning jobs done 10 times faster, compared to a standard spray application.
• High-Speed pressure washers like the Husky 3-in-1 offer up to 10 times the cleaning speed of other presssure washers.
• If your cleaning needs are more demanding, consider a unit that includes Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). This feature gives the unit 50% easier starting, and better fuel economy.
• Consider units with the PWMA logo for products certified by the Pressure Washer Manufacturers Association.
Before starting any project, always remember to read your pressure washer owner's manual. When performing outdoor cleaning tasks, many manufacturers recommend wearing safety goggles, work gloves, and ear protection. Your cleaning surface may become slippery when wet, so wear shoes with slip-resistant soles. You may also want to consider wearing water-proof clothing or rainwear to keep your clothes dry.
Pressure washers become hot during operation, so use caution when handling. Also make sure the unit has completely cooled before returning it to storage. Also remember to never operate a gas pressure washer indoors.
Preparation and Cleaning Tips
Use the following checklist for basic cleaning projects outside your home