Why your home and yard need a pressure washer
Why your home and yard need a pressure washer, pronto
A garden hose on full blast and a scrub brush powered by elbow grease will only get you so far. When you really need a vigorous clean, put some motor muscle behind your cleanup projects and opt for a pressure washer, which can decrease the time and energy required to get many jobs done outside your home.
"Pressure washers spray water out quickly and with enough force to blast away grime, dirt and debris. They are often used to wash concrete driveways, brick pavers and sidewalks, decks, patios and siding because they make cleaning relatively quick and easy," says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of San Diego-headquartered Lawn Love.
A pressure washer uses either an electric motor or a gasoline engine to drive a pump that pushes water through a nozzle to create pressure, according to Mike Saice, parts, service and repair manager for Northern Tool + Equipment, a national retailer based in Burnsville, Minnesota, with a suburban store in Mount Prospect.
"Nozzles differ in size, style and pattern so that pressure washers can be used in a wide variety of applications," he adds. "A pressure washer is better than a garden hose with a hard pressure spray nozzle because of the amount of power created by the pressure washer. The secret to a pressure washer's success is that it takes the same gallons-per-minute water flow coming out of a garden hose nozzle and multiplies it, creating extra force and capability."
Kristina Matthew, an Austin, Texas-based landscape designer and the co-founder of Gardeningit.com, says pressure washers also come in two temperature varieties: cold water models and hot water models.
"Coldwater pressure washers work great for things like cleaning sidewalks, decks, patios and siding," she says. "A hot water pressure washer, which can also use soap detergent, is better for cleaning things like decks, sidewalks, concrete, automotive parts and brick."
Ideal prospects for buying and using a pressure washer are homeowners who have a variety of exterior surfaces and outdoor areas that regularly get dirty.
"Homeowners can use pressure washers to wash their home's exterior, deck or patio, vehicles, garage floors, driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, pool decks, fences, grills and grill grates and lawn mower," Saice says. "They are very effective at surface cleaning. If a stain or discoloration has seeped into the material, removing the discoloration means removing marred material until reaching untainted material or replacing the marred item with new materials."
For instance, dirt on a car can be eradicated via a pressure washer, but rust cannot be washed off -- it has to be removed or replaced.
Extreme care must be taken before and during operation, however.
"Always wear appropriate clothing like goggles, rubber gloves, long pants, closed-toe shoes and hearing protection when you are using a pressure washer. The powerful spray these machines emit, coupled with their high pressure, can cause serious injury -- possibly damaging skin and nails or causing you to slip and fall," warns Matthew. "Also, the tips of the spray head should always be aimed away from you to minimize the amount of expelled water."
When first using a pressure washer, begin at least 3 feet away from the object or surface to be cleaned, recommends Saice. While spraying, slowly move the nozzle toward what is being cleaned. If you are happy with the results, back up slightly and maintain that distance. Remember that the pressure power can quickly damage surfaces, especially soft wood like pine, if the nozzle gets too close.
"Pressure washers often cost between $150 and $400 or more, and they can be found at most hardware or lawn care stores," Yamaguchi says. "Expect a life span of around eight to 15 years, depending on how often they are used."