Using a Pressure Washer
How do pressure washers work?
A pressure washer is a machine that increases water pressure and then distributes the water in a controlled manner. The combination of water flow and pressure created by your machine is what provides the rinse and cleaning action. It's plugged into the mains electricity and can either be connected to a mains water tap, a water tank or a water butt via a garden hose. If you use a tank or water butt you need to attach a filter as there's a risk of sediment getting into the machine. Make sure the tank always contains plenty of water. If it runs dry, you may damage the pressure washer.
Before you tackle a job, adjust the pressure and try out on a small area first to gauge the maximum amount of water needed for effective but safe cleaning. Pressure is measured in bars, with lighter cleaning jobs such as a dirty car needing around 100 bar, while tougher and harder to reach jobs like the roof needing at least 120 bar.
By attaching nozzles you can increase cleaning power by up to 50%, and optional attachments designed for specific jobs will get jobs done more effectively.
A pressure washer is a really efficient alternative to a garden hose. It uses about 400 litres of water an hour to provide up to 25 times more pressure.
Choosing the right pressure washer
Pressure washers are rated in two ways - by water pressure and water flow. The water pressure rating measured in bars, indicates how much pressure is available for cleaning. Generally, the more pressure the machine delivers, the more power it has to lift dirt. Just as important is the amount of water that's delivered, which is measured in litres per hour. The more water the pressure washer distributes, the faster debris can be washed away. Both pressure and flow are important in determining the right washer for the jobs you'll be doing, and both affect how much time it will take to do the work.
Here's a guide to what pressure you are likely to need to need to carry out the most common domestic cleaning tasks:
Light tasks - 100 bar
* Garden equipment: furniture, tools, barbecues, compost bin
* Kids toys
Medium tasks - 110 bar
* Cars and other vehicles
* Swimming pools, hot tubs and spa pools
Tougher jobs - 110-130 bar
* Garden decking
* Paths, driveways and patios
* Brick, stone and concrete walls
* Farm machinery
Also think about:
* How far away from the water and electricity supply you will need to reach. You'll need a sufficiently long cable and hose.
* Storing and manoeuvring the pressure washer. Wheels and a handle are useful, as are upright models where you have limited storage space.
* An auto stop/start feature that will prolong the life of the motor.
* A detergent tank that will provide extra cleaning power by releasing the right amount detergent in the waterflow.
* A built in storage compartment that safely tidies away trailing cables and hoses.
Pressure washer accessories
* Take advantage of additional pressure washer attachments such as brushes, that have been designed to do specific jobs.
* Use a specially formulated detergent for extra powerful cleaning.
* A vario lance regulates the rate of water flow through the nozzle so it can be adjusted for different areas being cleaned.
Using your pressure washer safely
As with any piece of equipment, it pays to use it correctly. Remember to:
* Read the accompanying manufacturer's instructions before use.
* Wear the appropriate protective clothing including footwear and goggles - debris has a habit getting everywhere and could cause harm.
* Use the pressure washer for what's it's intended for. Don't point water at people or animals.
* Tidy up the hose and the cable to avoid damage and accidents.
* Keep the cable away from water as much as possible.
* Plug the pressure washer into a socket with RCD protection that will switch off the electricity automatically if an earth fault's detected.
FINALLY DO REMEMBER THAT WATER AND ELECTRICITY DO NOT MIX!