Take the Pressure out of Pressure Washing

by R.I. Lampus
Pressure Washing 101
With spring right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start pulling that pressure washer out of the shed or out from under your porch and getting it ready to use. No matter how much you maintain the outside of your home, your house is exposed to the elements. Fall and winter especially, are big contributors to grime collecting on the outside of your home. Using a pressure washer to remove dirt and build-up can bring the exterior back to life just in time for the sunny weather to come.
It’s good to know the basics before tackling a job like pressure washing, starting with the types of pressure washers there are. Gas, electric, and battery-powered are all available. When making the decision on what kind is right for you, it's good to know the pros & cons of each type.

Not only is it a good idea to know what types of pressure washers are available to you, but also familiarize yourself with the attachments, accessories, & tools that can be used in combination with the pressure washer itself, to achieve optimal results. 
There are such accessories as an expandable wand, pressure washing broom, surface cleaners, and nozzles. Make sure to educate yourself about the attachments too. For example, nozzles for pressure washers come in an assortment of colors that coincide with their capabilities. Nozzles can come in red, yellow, green, white, and black. A red nozzle has the most narrow-angle at zero degrees and can create a stream of water that can cause a lot of damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. A white nozzle is the most user friendly, producing a 40-degree spray that’s perfect to use on more delicate surfaces. 

Once you have the right machine and attachments in mind for the job you are looking to complete, you also need to be aware of some dos & don’ts for using such a useful yet powerful machine.
  • You DO want to clear off any debris or surface-level dirt beforehand like leaves and sticks on the porch before starting. Doing simple prep work might feel tedious but will give you the best long-term results. 
  • You DON’T want to forget to cover your lights or any fragile décor on the outside of your home, especially if you are pressure-washing siding on your house. 
  • You DO also want to double-check the pressure of your water before you start to make sure you can efficiently complete the job ahead. Try testing the water flow from your hose by timing how long it takes to fill a five-gallon bucket. If it takes two minutes or less, you’re good to go; longer than that indicates that there’s not enough water flow to operate the washer.
  • And, as always, DON’T underestimate the power behind the machine. Try and ease into the job and test out different nozzles, angles, and techniques slowly at the beginning to see what works best without causing irreversible damage to your home.

There are also plenty of unconventional ways to use pressure washers to help conquer monotonous jobs around the house. 
The next time you see weeds like dandelions popping up all over the place, try using the steam cleaner capabilities on your pressure washer to shrivel up the little yellow weeds without herbicides. Heat and steam is an effective and eco-friendly method of killing weeds growing up through the cracks of your walkways and driveway. 

Did you know that your pressure washer can even be as efficient as your washing machine? It’s true! You just pour detergent into the reservoir and use the high-pressure blast to remove stains and dirt from rugs, bedding, or even car mats. Proceed with caution when working with more delicate fabrics, and it’s suggested that you start with a nozzle and attachment that is the least abrasive and work your way up from there.
Pressure washers are versatile cleaning tools that can take on practically any job. Always make sure to wear proper eyewear since debris can fly back from the high pressure of the water. Ear protection is also wise since some of the machines can be quite loud. Lastly, keep children and pets out of the way while operating your pressure washer since the higher pressure streams can be harmful to skin and fur. 

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