Safety precautions to take before using a pressure washer
Read the user manual: Before using a pressure washer, it is essential to read the user manual and understand how to properly use the pressure washer. Different pressure washers have various features, water temperature, and amount of pressure, so please know how to use your specific machine.
Consider all possible hazards: Before using the pressure washer, consider all possible hazards that could cause accidents. This includes obstacles you could trip on, slippery surfaces, uneven surfaces, distractions, pets, children, and even traffic passing by. Plan for how to avoid these hazards and have a responsible spotter watch for anyone approaching during use so you don’t accidentally direct your pressure washer at them.
Wear proper safety gear: Always wear proper safety gear, including boots, gloves, long pants, safety glasses, and hearing protection. This gear can protect you from flying debris and prevent injuries.
Never aim the wand at anyone or anything: Never aim the wand at anyone or anything that you don’t intend to clean. When the water is off, always point the wand downward and keep your fingers off the trigger.
Be aware of your surroundings: Always be aware of your surroundings and check around the area you’ll be cleaning to ensure your safety. If you need to use a pressure washer in an enclosed space, use an electric pressure washer instead of a gas-powered one to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Pressure wash in well-ventilated areas.
Connecting Your Pressure Washer to a Water Source
Attach the garden hose to the pressure washer’s water inlet. Make sure the hose is connected to your home’s water supply.
On the opposite side of the pressure washer, there is a black threaded connection that fits a regular garden hose. Attach your hose tightly just like you would screw it onto your home’s hose bib.
Connect the high-pressure hose to the pressure washer’s pump and trigger handle. Each end of the high-pressure hose has an identical black threaded collar. One end connects to your trigger handle, the other to the brass connection on the pressure washer. Just hand tighten until they’re both secure.
Select and attach your nozzle to the spray wand. Most heavy-duty, gas-powered washers will come with four or five colored nozzles to attach to your pressure washer spray gun. Each nozzle varies in the degree of spray they allow. Smaller, electric pressure washers with less than 2000 PSI will typically come with one nozzle. This pressure washer comes with three nozzle options that offer different levels of pressure for different applications. There’s a handy guide on the top of the device that explains the differences between the three, along with holes to store them in.
Once everything is connected, turn on the water supply and test out the nozzle by squeezing the trigger on the pressure washer head. Start on the lowest setting at first to avoid any kickback from the machine.
When you’re finished using the pressure washer, carefully detach the garden hose from the pressure washer’s water inlet.
Selecting the Appropriate Nozzle for the Job
Determine the widest nozzle that can still clean the surface. The wider the nozzle, the less pressure it produces, which is safer for the surface being cleaned. Nozzles are rated by a size such as 3.0, 3.5, 5.0, 6.5, etc. These numbers relate to a diameter in millimeters or inches.
Know the five universal spray tips that produce different spray patterns and are used for different cleaning purposes. The red spray tip creates a 0-degree spray pattern and is the most powerful nozzle of them all, but it can cause damage to the surface being cleaned. The yellow tip produces a 15-degree wide spray pattern and is great for heavy-duty power washing. The green tip produces a 25-degree wide spray pattern and is suitable for general cleaning tasks. The white tip produces a 40-degree wide spray pattern and is ideal for rinsing and washing delicate surfaces. The black tip generates a 65-degree spray pattern and is used for applying detergents or chemicals.
Choose the proper nozzle and spray pattern to do the job without damaging what you are washing or the equipment you are using. Nozzle packages typically come in a set of red, yellow, green, white, and black tips, and they are sized to a certain volume and pressure depending on the model number, volume, and pressure of your pressure washer.
Picking the wrong size nozzle can impact the job you are doing, and in some cases, can either ruin a pressure washer by over amping an electric motor or overburdening a gas engine. If the manufacturer does not specify the correct nozzle size on the data plate of the pressure washer, a contractor can consult a nozzle chart to determine the proper nozzle size for their pressure washer.
Adjusting Pressure and Flow Rate of a Pressure Washer
Check the water supply flow: If the water supply flow is lower than the GPM on your pressure washing unit, it can cause your pressure washer to lose pressure. Ensure that the water supply flow is not the issue.
Unblock the nozzle tip: Pressure washer nozzles can get blocked quickly, causing low pressure. Test out the nozzles by hooking up your pressure washer as normal, but don’t start the engine. If there is a steady stream of water coming out of the nozzle, move on to the next tip. However, if no or very little water is coming out of the tip, there may be an issue.
Check the wand and O-ring: The O-ring in a pressure washer spray gun can rust or become damaged. Replacing the O-ring in your wand could solve your flow rate problems. Also, check the unloader valve, which is the big red or black knob on your pressure washer. Make sure it’s cranked to full pressure.
Troubleshoot low pressure issues: If your pressure washer is producing low or no pressure, you can troubleshoot the problem by checking if the spray gun is leaking, if the nozzle orifice is obstructed, if the pump oil level is low, or if the pump is faulty.
Adjust the nozzle: To increase the GPM output of your pressure washer, adjust the nozzle. A nozzle with a smaller opening will restrict the flow of water, resulting in lower GPM. Conversely, a nozzle with a larger opening will allow more water to flow through, increasing GPM.
Starting and Stopping a Pressure Washer
Before starting, ensure the pressure washer is on a flat and stable surface, the water strainer is clean and positioned correctly, and the appropriate nozzle attachment is selected.
Check the oil and fuel levels before use.
To start, open the fuel valve, allow the engine to warm up, and wear appropriate safety gear.
If the pressure washer starts and then shuts off, check the fuel level and diagnose and repair any clogged filters or carburetors.
If the engine overheats, turn off the machine and wait for it to cool down before restarting.
Perform routine maintenance as required to ensure safe and optimal performance.
Cleaning different surfaces with a pressure washer
Vinyl siding, EIFS, pressure-treated decking, composite decks, and concrete walkways and patios are the most common surfaces that are cleaned with a pressure washer.
A pressure washer is not always the right tool for every job. For example, a car wash or a garden hose and soapy sponge will suffice for some surfaces.
If it’s your first time pressure washing a particular surface, start with low pressure and gradually increase it as needed.
Before cleaning with a surface cleaner, clear the area of large stones or other loose debris that could interfere with the operation of the pressure washer surface cleaner.
When connecting your pressure washer to a water source, make sure that the water supply is turned on and that there are no kinks in the hose.
Use the appropriate cleaning product for the surface you’re cleaning.
Remember to use just enough pressure to break the bond between the surface and the dirt. Too much pressure can damage the surface, and too little pressure will result in subpar results and an unclean surface.
Maintaining and Storing Your Pressure Washer Properly
Check fluid levels: Before using your pressure washer, always check the oil and fuel levels to ensure they are at the recommended levels.
Inspect debris screens: Check the debris screens for any clogs or damage. Clean or replace them if necessary.
Check spray gun and hose: Inspect the spray gun and hose for any leaks or damage. Replace any damaged parts.
Inspect detergent system: Check the detergent system for any clogs or damage. Clean or replace it if necessary.
Prepare for storage: After using your pressure washer, clean both the inside and outside of the machine. Wash away dirt and grime from the inside of the pressure washer to prevent any erratic behavior while it’s in use. Drain all excess water out before storing. Water left inside can attract insects, grow mold, and produce bacteria. Store your pressure washer somewhere away from the elements where it can stay well ventilated and out of the sun, rain, and snow. Make sure it’s not accessible to children who …
Long-term storage: If you plan to store your pressure washer for an extended period, you should take extra precautions. Always keep your pressure washer clean. Keeping your pressure washer upright will help protect the hose. It will also prevent the mechanisms on the inside from loosening or becoming misaligned. You may also want to add a pump protector to the water inlet to prevent mineral buildup and corrosion.
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Other References and Links:
Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces: Surprising Statistics And Facts
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