Just because you can’t see the dirt and grime on the exterior of your home doesn’t mean it’s not there. The accumulated dirt isn’t a reflection of your home maintenance ability. It just happens. Like it or not, your house is always exposed to the elements.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sit idly by as grime dulls your beautiful home. Instead, you can use a pressure washer to remove years of dirt and bring your home’s exterior back to life.
Sounds easy enough, right? Hold up. There’s a caveat.
Pressure washers can cause damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s important to do your homework before getting started. And if you’ve never used a pressure washer, you’ve come to the right place.
Ready to get started on your own project? Keep reading for a crash course in power washing.
Pressure washers work by using a pump to increase the pressure of water flowing through the attached hose. That pump can be powered by gasoline or by electricity.
There are pros and cons to both options.
Gas-powered washers typically provide higher PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) and GPM (gallons of water per minute) than the electric version. That extra power means they clean surfaces much more quickly.
Electric washers can be more convenient than their gas-powered peers in some circumstances. Plus, you don’t have to worry about gas fumes.
Regardless of whether you choose a gas or electric pressure washer, you’ll also need to make a decision about the size of the engine.
Like any other engine-powered machine, the size of the engine determines the total power of the unit. A small engine will not be able to produce the water pressure or the gallon-per-minute output of a larger engine.
Generally speaking, pressure washer engines are categorized in four ways.
Light-duty pressure washers produce water pressure levels under 2,000 PSI. If you only plan to clean the occasional outdoor household item, a small deck, or a patio, a light-duty electric pressure washer is perfectly sufficient.
Planning to clean your home’s siding, driveway or fencing? You’ll want a medium-duty pressure washer. A pressure washer of this size produces water pressure levels between 2,000 and 2,800 PSI.
If you know you’ll be cleaning large areas of concrete or needing to reach a second story, a heavy-duty pressure washer may be your best bet. Heavy-duty pressure washers reach pressure levels of between 2,900 and 3,300 PSI.
Planning to do a lot of pressure washing? Are you preparing your home’s exterior for a repainting job? If so, consider investing in a professional-grade pressure washer. The extra-heavy-duty engine is designed to handle big jobs that take hours to complete. These power washers produce water pressure levels of 3,300 PSI and higher.
Regardless of which pressure washer you choose, remember to take the GPM measurement into account, too.
While the size of the pressure washer’s engine determines the machine’s overall power, the nozzle you choose determines the angle of the water stream.
The angle is important because it affects what the water stream can do. A narrow-angle spray is more powerful than a large-angle spray.
Luckily, pressure washer nozzles are universally color-coded.
A red tip is the narrowest angle—zero degrees. This tip creates a water stream that can do a lot of damage, so be careful. Don’t use a red-tipped nozzle up close on any surface.
Yellow tips create a spray with a 15-degree angle. Reach for this nozzle when you need to pressure wash concrete around your house.
A green tip produces a 25-degree spray. This works well for all-purpose household pressure washing. This is the nozzle to use if it’s time to wash your car or clean mildew that’s accumulated on your patio furniture or deck.
Perhaps the most user-friendly nozzle, a white tip produces a 40-degree spray. Use the white tip if you’re planning an exterior home cleaning day. A white-tipped nozzle is suitable for windows and siding.
Producing a spray angle of 65 degrees, a black nozzle is the gentlest. In fact, this spray is so light that it typically won’t remove dirt or stains. Instead, use this nozzle when you just need to wet a surface.
For even more efficient cleaning, consider using an attachment that was designed specifically for the job you need to complete. Here are some popular pressure washer attachments.
This attachment uses a spinning bar to distribute the high-pressure stream of water over a larger surface area than a single spray. This is helpful for cleaning large sections of concrete, like a driveway.
Also called a turbo nozzle, a rotary tip produces a spinning zero-degree water stream. This nozzle is especially useful for removing difficult stains and grimy buildup.
Similar to a surface cleaner attachment, a pressure washing broom divides a single water jet into two or three jets for more power and a larger cleaning area.
An expandable wand will give you more reach when you need to clean surfaces up high without using a ladder.
A soap/detergent reservoir attaches to the pressure washer and adds cleaning solution into the jet of water. Be sure to use the right nozzle for this job. A water stream that’s too strong will force soap into the surface, which can cause damage.
Pressure washing can be a messy job—and dangerous if it isn’t done correctly. It’s important to take the time to adequately prepare.
Here are the safety tips we recommend for beginners and pros alike.
Pressure washers are loud. Plus, the high pressure of the water means debris and water will spray back toward you. Be sure to wear eye and hearing protection.
Until you gain confidence with the pressure washer, hold the wand securely with both hands so that it won’t fly out of your grip.
Keep the spray tip approximately 18 inches away from the surface you’re cleaning to minimize the risk of damage.
Ready to rent a pressure washer? Contact Monnick Supply in Marlborough or Framingham, MA.
135 Maple Street,
Call (508) 318-4788
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm
759 Waverly Street,
Call (508) 386-9876
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm