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Tackle Tough Jobs with a Pressure Washer. Here’s How.

Tackle Tough Jobs with a Pressure Washer. Here’s How.

Outdoor cleaning is more than just a springtime task, it should be tackled and maintained throughout the year. A pressure washer can tackle those tougher cleaning jobs in no time so you can relax with friends and family on your freshly cleaned deck. 

Pressure washers (or power washers) are powerful and efficient cleaning tools, using up to 80% less water than most garden hoses while packing more than 50 times the power. They work by connecting to a standard garden hose that delivers low pressure water to a gas engine or electric motor, which then pumps the water through a spray nozzle at extremely high pressure. 

From washing down your exterior siding to blasting grease and grime off your driveway, a pressure washer can make beautifying your property a breeze.

The Different Types of Pressure Washers

Our selection of pressure washers include a variety of gas and electric models. While a lightweight electric pressure washer is ideal for smaller jobs around the home, large-scale cleaning jobs are better-suited to the power of a heavy-duty gas pressure washer.

Gas Pressure Washers

If you have a large home with expansive decking and patio space, a gas-powered pressure washer makes a lot of sense. These models deliver the highest water force for quicker cleaning. Most gas-power washers have a manual pull-start, although some models come with a push-button electric starter. 

When shopping for this type of portable pressure washer, look for a model with a sturdy, well-balanced frame and large rubber wheels for durability. If you’ll be using detergent, opt for a model with an integrated soap tank. Gas pressure washers that come with built-in detergent injection systems are a plus, as are models with onboard accessory and cord storage. 
Pros: 
  • Can handle medium to heavy duty jobs 
  • Can Remove tough stains without chemicals 

Cons: 
  • Relatively noisy 
  • Require outside storage 
  • Produces carbon monoxide 
  • Pumps need to be winterized with antifreeze in colder climates 

Best for: Common jobs like house siding, large decks, pavement, sidewalks and fencing

Electric Pressure Washers

An electric pressure washer is ideal for light to medium sized jobs around the home. Most models are compact, lightweight, and include a solid pair of wheels for easy maneuverability. While an electric power washer only delivers about half the power of its gas counterpart, many models come with onboard soap and degreaser tanks to handle tougher cleaning jobs. 

Look for convenient features like an on/off foot switch for hands-free start-ups, onboard wand and nozzle storage, along with hose and cord storage reels. For durability, opt for a portable pressure washer with a heavy-duty frame and all-brass hose connections.  

An important thing to keep in mind when shopping for an electric pressure washer is the overall reach it delivers. In general, most models have a 35-foot power cord with hoses that are typically 25 to 30 feet in length. Extension cord use is not recommended. 
Pros: 
  • Ideal for small to medium cleaning jobs 
  • Lightweight with easy maneuverability 
  • No exhaust emissions 
  • Small and easy to store indoors 
Cons: 
  • Tougher jobs will take longer 
  • Requires a nearby power source  

Best for: Infrequent jobs like, shutter cleaning, cleaning patio furniture, grills, small patios and light mildew/mould removal

Consumer vs Professional Power Washers

Consumer-grade electric and gas models are ideal for cleaning jobs around the home. For larger scale jobs you might want to consider a professional-grade power washer. 

Professional 3000 PSI pressure washers deliver much more power and can tackle tougher, larger cleaning jobs. These units are well-suited to industrial cleaning, removing motor oil stains and slippery mildew from concrete and pavement, paint stripping, graffiti removal etc.

PSI x GPM = Cleaning Power

PSI stands for pounds per square inch. In other words, it measures the speed of the water coming out of the nozzle. GPM stands for gallons per minute. This refers to the volume of water that is coming out. In general, the higher the PSI and GPM, the greater the cleaning power. 
Consumer Electric Models: 
1,300-1,800 PSI 
Up to 1.5 GPM 

Consumer Gas Models: 
2,000-3,000 PSI 
Up to 2.8 GPM 

Professional-Grade Gas Models: 
3,000-4,000+ PSI 
Up to 4.0 GPM

Getting Started with Your Pressure Washer

Spring and fall cleanups can be a lot quicker and easier with a pressure washer. Whether refreshing a dirty deck or cleaning mould from your patio furniture, these machines let you power through your outdoor cleaning so you can get on with enjoying the summer. 

Keep in mind that a pressure washer can chip paint, dent wood and even etch stone. Always start on the gentlest setting and work your way up. 

Here are some helpful tips to get you started: 
  • Most decks can be pressure-washed but we recommend using a low pressure nozzle setting on an out-of-sight area beforehand to make sure it won’t etch or mark the wood 
  • Exterior siding made of vinyl, cement and wood typically hold up to power washing (use caution with aluminum siding as it can dent easily) 
  • Concrete and asphalt can stand up to power washing. Use a fine, targeted stream for grease stains, and low pressure with detergent for mould and mildew

Pressure Washing Accessories

Our selection of concentrated pressure washer detergents are formulated to tackle a wide range of cleaning jobs. To get the best performance, choose a formula recommended for the surface intended. For example, for deck and fencing you’ll want a formula designed for use on wood, vinyl and aluminum. 

Tip: For caked-on grime, soak the area first, letting it sit for a few minutes. To clean, wet from the bottom up, using sweeping horizontal strokes. To rinse, work in the opposite direction so you don’t miss any cleanser.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Operating a Pressure Washer

Do’s: 
  • Read the instruction manual. Detergents can vary by machine so check the manual for recommendation 
  • Wear goggles, long pants and sturdy footwear 
  • Be cautious moving on wet surfaces 
  • Start with the widest spray angle from about 2 feet away, moving closer as needed 
  • Turn off the engine and press the trigger to drain excess water before changing the spray tip  

Don’ts: 
  • Point the pressure washer at a person, pet or plant 
  • Operate a pressure washer on a ladder. The kick back can cause you to lose your balance and fall 
  • Let the engine of your gas pressure washer run for long periods without pressing the trigger. This will prevent the pump from overheating 
  • Get closer than 15 cm (6 inches) to any surface. You could damage paint or gouge wood surfaces

Make Safety A Priority

Consumer Reports safety tip: The pinpoint blast from the zero degree nozzle can cut through skin, rip apart a glove and drill a hole through a work boot. Experts recommend never to use them.  

While pressure washers are handy machines for many surfaces, never use on the roof. Not only is it dangerous, it can ruin roofing shingles. 

Tip: If moss is a problem, spray the roof down with a 50-50 mix of bleach and water and let it die on its own. 

A power washer can help keep your home and property looking its best. Before you tackle your next outside cleaning job, take a look at our wide selection of pressure washers.
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