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How to Choose a Pressure Washer

by Shelly McRae

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A power washer makes quick work of dirt

As a homeowner, you may find a pressure washer to be the right tool for cleaning your deck, your driveway, your car or the exterior of your house. Power tools, including power washers, are versatile tools that are an excellent additions to your collection of shop equipment. Before choosing a pressure washer, consider several factors, including how often you'll use the tool. The features on pressure washers vary, and finding the right one depends on your individual needs.

Choosing a Power Washer:

  1. Consider how often you will use the pressure washer. If you will use it regularly and will exceed 100 hours a year, you may need a commercial model. You would need to use your power washer at least twice a week on average to warrant the purchase of a commercial-grade washer. For average homeowner use, a less expensive model often will suffice.

  2. Determine the tasks for which you'll need your pressure washer. Different applications require different levels of pressure. To wash your car, you need a washer that delivers 700 pounds of pressure per square inch, or 700 psi. To clean your deck or the exterior of your house, you need 1500 psi. To clean your concrete driveway, you need 3000 psi. If you want to use a pressure washer for all these tasks, you need one that is adjustable and can deliver a force of up to 3000 pounds per square inch.

  3. Assess the access you'll have for powering the pressure washer. Pressure washers are powered by electricity, gas, diesel or hydraulic power. Hydraulic power is mostly used for mining and agricultural applications. Diesel fuel is used for heavy-duty pressure washers and may be more applicable for commercial use. A gas-powered pressure washer is a good choice if you need to use it where electricity isn't available. For example, you may not have access to an outlet when you wash your car or clean the deck around your pool. Electric pressure washers are the most convenient because the only source of power you need is an electric outlet.

  4. Consider if you need to use hot water in your applications. Most pressure washers use cold water, but if you need hot water, consider a model that includes a heating coil. If you need a pressure washer to clean and sanitize animal cages, for example, you may wish to use hot water. The heating coil feature allows you to apply hot water to your task. These units are heavier, though, and generally require some type of fuel to operate.

Power Washer Tips:

  1. Use an extension wand to clean higher places, such as second story awnings.

  2. Always disconnect the nozzle from the unit when cleaning out clogs.

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