Tips for maintaining your pressure washer

Posted8/28/2015 2:05 PM

Pressure washers are a super tool for cleaning around the exterior of your home. But they do require regular maintenance, especially gas-powered models. Most of these things are easy to do and won't cost you much. You also can get a lot of valuable information from your owner's manual. If you don't have one, get online and see if your manufacturer has one that you can download for future reference.

• Always operate the machine outdoors in a well-ventilated area.


• The first step, as with some many tools, cleaning it is very important. This usually can be done with a hose and soft cloth. Just keep an eye out for possible issues as you work.

• The most important part of this tool is the pump. Because it pumps water, it's a good idea to remove the water when you are finished using it to preserve the seals and other parts. The easiest way to clear the pump is with Pump Saver from Briggs & Straton, or something similar. This material goes in to lube the pump as it removes the water inside of it.

• You should change the oil every season, whether you use it or not.

• Use fresh gas with fuel stabilizer in it.

• Once the gas and oil are in, crank it up to coat all of the internal parts.

• Most pressure washers will have a small filter at the site where the water hose connects. Clean this out.

• Use only cleaning products that are recommended for use with pressure washers to prevent damage to seals and other interior parts. Clean the siphoning tubes for clogs and clear these if you need to.

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• Make sure all of your fittings and connections are in good shape. "O" rings should be lubricated often and replaced periodically.

• These small gas engines have filters that need to be cleaned often and replaced when worn or damaged. Spark plugs also need to be replaced every year.

Clean paintbrushes

I always soak my latex brushes in water as soon as I can after I'm finished painting with them. This is the first step to cleaning them, and the sooner you get them into water, the easier they will be to clean. But if you will be painting away from a water source or have to leave the site with your brushes, just put them into a large plastic bag that can be sealed along with some water, and seal them up. You'll get some paint on the handle, but they usually need to be cleaned anyway. By the time you get back to them, the water will have loosened the paint.

Use an old ladder

I have had this old wooden ladder for as long as I can remember. It's too old to use and way too rickety to stand on, but I decided to use it anyway! Now, I know how accident-prone I am and would never actually try to climb this old ladder, but I will use it in my sunroom to hang plants and other things from. I will hang it with some eye hooks and chains from all four corners. The ladder will hang about 6 inches from the ceiling and be the perfect place to hang a couple of plants. It also is a great place to hang herbs that are drying. I might even sneak a shirt or two there to keep them from shrinking in the dryer.


Super hints

• Butcher block surfaces are great in the kitchen, but they must be cleaned constantly and conditioned after that. Several products can be used for this, but since coconut oil is so popular in the kitchen now, use it on your butcher block, too. It's a great conditioner and protector.

• I used to have an umbrella stand, but it was metal and rusted a lot. In fact, it made quite a mess on my old patio. I made my own stand by placing a PVC pipe into the stand that my umbrella would fit into. It's as tall as the bucket, too. Then I filled in around it with plaster of Paris, about halfway full. After it began to set up, I placed the umbrella into it, and it's great. I even put some soil into the bucket over the plaster and have some mint planted there. It's great at keeping the bugs away from our feet.

• Heavy-duty casters (wheels) are the perfect addition to a heavy workbench or other tool in a small, busy workshop. It will allow you to move it around when you need to. Locks on the wheels will keep them from rolling when you want them to stay put.

Q. I have noticed the fascia behind our guttering around the garage is starting to rot. Is there a way to fix this without removing it all? Are there any other ideas you have to offer

A. You would do best to remove the portion of the guttering that covers this board and replace the fascia. Make sure you prime and paint the wood before installing it. Then just reinstall the guttering. Make sure that it isn't leaking, or it will just happen again.

Q. I would like to paint our metal garage door, as it faces the street. It currently is plain white like it was when it was installed. What type of paint do I use?

A. Clean it thoroughly first. If there are any bare metal spots, cover them with primer. Just use any paint made to go over metal. You also might consider using a UV-resistant or anti-fading paint. Don't forget to paint the sides of the panels, as they will show when raising and lowering the door.

Q. I have an older wooden deck and I want to stain it. I'm not sure how to get it cleaned off and ready for the stain. What do I need to do first?

A. A pressure washer and the appropriate deck cleaner is a great tool for cleaning a deck. Use a wide spray pattern for even and quick coverage. If you don't have a pressure washer, use a deck cleaner and a pump-up sprayer. Most are applied and allowed to soak in and work to loosen dirt and debris. Use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the surface and then rinse it off. It must be totally dry before you can apply the stain.

Reader tips

• Both of our kids are into soccer, so we spend a lot of time at the fields. We have a couple of lightweight chairs and a rolling ice chest. I put a stick-on decal of the initial of our last name to make our ice chest easy to spot. Now it's easy for us to see just where it is at all times, even when we are in a big crowd.

• We are trying to upgrade our house on a budget. We have a lot of brass in the doorknobs, lamps and hardware. After shopping, I discovered that replacing all of these would cost me a fortune. I decided to paint them instead. Rust-Oleum makes a variety of metal finishes, including a brushed nickel. I chose this and painted everything with it. Everything looks amazing. I can't believe the transformation, and it all happened within my budget!

• I recently painted my dining room. I used a gray paint to get a cool, calm look in the room. (It had been red previously.) I've never had a lot of fancy china to display, but wanted to find some for my china cabinet. I ended up purchasing some basic pieces at the Goodwill store and I painted them a glossy white. Now I have a whole collection of faux whiteware. Maybe one day I'll have the real thing, but for now, it looks very nice and I am getting a lot of compliments on it, too.

• I found a hardware bin with 24 little drawers to it. It was in good shape. I painted it white to match my bathroom, and then put my jewelry into the drawers. It's a great place to store all of these items, and it helps me keep them organized and all in one place. Not a bad buy for 50 cents!

• My daughters love to use the colorful duct tape that is so popular these days. They make all sorts of things with the stuff. The leftovers come in handy for me, too, and they are very willing to let me have them. I use them to mark my hand tools and crafting tools. I just wrap a piece of the tape around the item and it makes it easy to spot. My stuff will no longer get lost or borrowed and not returned.


• If you have noticed that the pressure in your water supply has diminished over time, especially the hot-water supply, it may be something as simple as mineral deposits clogging up the lines. It's not a very hard thing to fix once you know a little trick you can play with a dime. It's a very simple thing to do and it may just solve your problems -- at least, your water pressure problems. This information, and a lot more, is available directly from our website as well -- Come on by and check us out!

• A reel mower is a better choice for smaller yards for many reasons. It's quiet, uses no gasoline or electricity, cuts grass cleanly, protecting it from damage and disease, and is great exercise. But you want to buy a good one. Fiskars has a great model with an advanced design that makes it 60 percent easier to push. It also has their StaySharp Cutting System that keeps your blades in tip top shape. It has a one-touch height adjustment control and a unique discharge chute that throws the clippings forward away from your feet.

The InertiaDrive Reel delivers twice the cutting power and even can tackle small twigs and weeds, and the inset wheel design allows the blades to extend across the full width of the mower to eliminate uncut strips or wheel marks. Check it out at select lawn and garden centers. To find out more or to locate a local dealer, just go to

• For a smaller cleaning job, an electric pressure washer is a good choice. It's simpler to maintain and operate. Ryobi has a neat 1600 PSI Pressure Washer that is lightweight and compact so it's easy to move to where you need it, and it has plenty of power for most cleaning jobs. It has most of the features that larger models have, including an onboard detergent tank, accessory storage and a heavy-duty frame, too. Check it out at your hardware store or home center and at

• Write to Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit online at

© 2015, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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