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The Ultimate Guide to Pressure Washing a House

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It’s safe to say that pressure washers are one of those tools that everyone needs every now and again. Thanks to the elements, your home’s exterior succumbs to dirt, buildup over time. When this happens, a pressure washer is your best bet. They are great at removing dirt, even of the most resilient nature. With so many different pressure washers in the market, you certainly want to take the time to find out exactly which pressure washing equipment works best for you. If you’re considering to buy a pressure washing machine and do some of your own pressure washing, then there are a few things you’ll need to know about pressure washing equipment.

Pressure Washing Equipment: The Technical Terms

When you start shopping around for a pressure washer, it won’t take long before you come across two very important abbreviations – PSI and GPM. Understanding what they mean will assist you in choosing the best pressure washing equipment for you.

PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)

This number simply expresses how forceful the water is during cleaning. The higher the PSI, the better the cleaning power – but the greater the probability of damaging delicate surfaces like wood. Generally speaking, a PSI of around 2000 is good enough for most cleaning around the house.

GPM (Gallons per Minute)

GPM tells the volume of water dispensed per minute by the pressure washer. This is very useful because it lets you know how fast it will take the pressure washer to complete the job. You might think that a lower GPM is the way to go, however, it’s typically the other way around – the higher the GPM, the quicker your surface will be cleaned.
Now that you know what these are, you’ll be ready to learn more about pressure cleaning.

Gas vs Electric Pressure Washers

The pump that a pressure washer uses to increase the water pressure can be powered by either electricity or gasoline.

Gas Pressure Washing Equipment

Gas pressure washers have the ability to clean surfaces quicker and more efficiently compared to electric pressure washers. This is because they have higher PSI and GPM levels, which means that if you want a machine that has power, a gas pressure washer is great – you’ll have no problem getting through even the toughest dirt.
You also don’t have to worry about portability issues. Gas pressure washers rely on gas and are therefore cordless.

However, one thing to take note of is that gasoline engines require a lot of maintenance. The oil needs frequent changing. If you want to store the machine for a lengthy period of time, you’ll have to use the correct fuel additives to prevent damage. In addition, they are louder and produce emissions. They are, however, ideal for cleaning siding, decks, patios, fences, boats and vehicles.

Electric Pressure Washing Equipment

Electric pressure washers, as the name suggests, are powered by electricity. This means that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with oil change maintenance. There also aren’t any harmful emissions, so electric pressure washers are safe to use in poorly ventilated areas.

The downside to electric pressure washers is that they don’t have the capacity to clean large or excessively dirty areas. This is mainly because they don’t typically have the same power as gas pressure washers.

In other words, cleaning a large area would take a long, long time. Even after a long time cleaning, you might end up with unsatisfactory results. What’s more, since they need a power outlet to work, portability can pose a problem.

However, they are ideal for washing your car, outdoor furniture, plastic play sets and grills. They can also work for small decks and patios.

Pressure Washer Engine Size

You’ll have to choose an appropriate engine size, regardless of if you’re buying and electric- or gas-powered pressure washer. Remember, the total power of the machine is determined by the engine size. Engines can be categorized in four ways.

Light-duty

This pressure washer produces water pressure levels of less than 2000 PSI. You can use a light-duty electric pressure washer for cleaning your small patio or deck, or some outdoor household items every now and again. They are designed for light cleaning work.

Medium-duty

This pressure washer can produce water pressure levels of 2000 to 2800 PSI. Its higher pressure makes it ideal for cleaning your driveway, walkway, fencing and siding.

Heavy-duty

A heavy-duty pressure washer is perfect for removing stubborn dirt on large, hard areas. It can produce pressure levels of between 2900 and 3300 PSI, which makes if very powerful.

Professional-grade Pressure Washer

If you’re planning to do hours and hours of pressure washing, a professional-grade pressure washer is what you need. With a PSI of 3300 and higher, this pressure washer is the best choice for big pressure washing jobs like cleaning parking lots.

Pressure Washing Nozzles

The angle at which water flows when sprayed out is determined by the nozzle. Different angles affect how the water stream hits the surface you are cleaning.
For example, a narrow-angle spray is a lot more powerful compared to a large-angle spray. Choosing the right nozzle doesn’t have to be complicated though, because nozzles are universally color-coded based on how narrow and forceful the spray pattern is, making it easier for you to know which one to use.

Red: 0-degree Angle

Red nozzles are the narrowest nozzles, which makes them very dangerous if misused, since the narrow water stream can cause a lot of damage to surfaces, even metal. Never use a red nozzle close to any surface. This tip is mainly suitable if you want to get rid of weeds in cracks on your driveway or walkway.

Yellow: 15-degree Angle

Yellow nozzles emit a 15-degree spray and are a good option for washing concrete around the house or for stripping paint. Again, be careful with this nozzle since it can cause damage to wood and other softer materials.

Green: 25-degree Angle

A green nozzle gives you a 25-degree spray. It’s great for general pressure washing around the house. Use this tip for washing your car, boat, fence, deck, siding, or outdoor furniture.

White: 40-degree Angle

With a 40-degree spray, the white nozzle is probably the most user-friendly nozzle you could use. Choose white if you’re planning on cleaning your windows or siding. Generally, this is the nozzle to choose if you’re unsure of the right one, then you can work your way up to narrower tips.

Black: 65-degree Angle

Black nozzles (aka soap nozzles) are the gentlest due to a spray angle of 65 degrees. The pressure is so low that it can’t actually remove dirt,. Instead, black nozzles are used for making a surface wet before cleaning and to dispense soap.

Take Note

When it comes to choosing a nozzle, it’s better to use the broadest, lowest-pressure nozzle that can clean the surface you’re working with. Avoid using a nozzle that’s too narrow. The narrower the nozzle, the easier it can cut into and damage the surface you’re cleaning. One way to help you make sure you’re using the right nozzle is to test it by spraying on a discreet area before spraying the rest.

Pressure Washing Detergents

Lastly, as powerful as pressure washers can be, you may still need to use soaps and detergents for a perfect clean.
The importance of only using detergents that are meant for your pressure washing equipment cannot be stressed enough. Using the wrong products, like bleach, will damage your pressure washer.

Furthermore, you must select a detergent based on the surface you want to clean. Different detergents are meant for different surfaces. For instance, the detergent you use to clean your garage floor can’t be the same one you use to clean your car, as cars need something milder.

Many pressure washers come with detergent tanks, making the application simple with just the push of a button.

Ready-to-use Detergents

These detergents are premixed and all you have to do is add it into your detergent tank.

Concentrated Detergents

These detergents should be mixed with water until the correct ratio is achieved. Read the instructions carefully to ensure you get the measurements correct.

Getting Started with Pressure Washing

These are just the basics of pressure washing equipment for the beginner pressure washer. No matter the type, all pressure washers do a good cleaning job, but like so many things, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. You must source the equipment that best suits your needs and make sure you use the right techniques so that you don’t cause damage to your home, or even yourself. Wear protective gear like gloves and goggles to guard against any flying debris.

If learning how to pressure wash seems like too much hassle, why not call a professional to help? Professionals have all the right equipment and years of experience in cleaning various types of surfaces.

The Ultimate Guide to Pressure Washing a House

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