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Tips For First Time Pressure Washers


While pressure washing can be hard work, it also has the potential to be a lot of fun. As professional pressure washers ourselves, we know how satisfying it is to watch the high-powered spray strip away layers of dirt and grime within seconds, leaving a stretch of the bright, clean surface behind it. While some pressure washing projects should definitely be left to the experts, many homeowners want to try their hand at basic pressure washing projects, such as washing down their driveway. However, while a pressure washer can be an exciting tool to use, it also has the potential to break down, damage property, or even harm yourself or others. Knowing how to use your pressure washer efficiently and responsible is essential to ensure your cleaning project doesn't become a disaster. Here's how you can prepare to make sure your first time using a pressure washer goes smoothly.

Know Your Pressure Washer

Whether renting or buying a pressure washer, always do your research to make sure the one you get best suits your needs. No two pressure washers are exactly alike. It always helps to talk to a professional who can go over the specifications of the machine with you when you're considering a purchase. And it goes without saying, but make sure you read the user's manual from front to back when you finally get it. Here are some things to consider going in when shopping around for a washer!

  • What kind of surface are you cleaning? Psi (pounds per square inch) matters when figuring out the best way to tackle your pressure washing project, and a lot of that comes down to the type of surface you're cleaning. Some surfaces like wood or glass require soft washing with water pressures of 1000 psi or under, while others, like concrete, need 2500 psi or more to clean sufficiently.
  • Gas-powered or electric? Your pressure washer will either be powered by a gas engine or by electricity. Most home electric pressure washers get up to 1300-1400 psi, which is more than sufficient for working with delicate surfaces, like deck washing or cleaning windows. Gas-powered pressure washers are far strangers, potentially going up to 2500-3000 psi or more. These are ideal for cleaning very hard, dense surfaces like concrete. Be cautious though- both types of washers have operational risks: gas fumes from the gas-powered ones, and risk of shock from the electric options. Be sure to read the user's manual and be informed of the risks involved for your specific pressure washer.
  • What kind of spray will you be using? Smaller machines with lower psi (2500 or under) will usually have an adjustable nozzle to customize your clean for different kinds of projects. Choose a wider, fan-shaped spray with a lower psi when soft washing or applying detergent. A focused, tight spray of water is good for heavy-duty power washing, though be sure to handle it carefully when using at a high psi to avoid damaging the surface you're cleaning. Again, research your project ahead of time and determine what methods would be most effective for your project.

Prepare Yourself For The Project

Pressure washers are potentially very dangerous tools, capable of damaging property and causing grievous bodily injury if not used correctly. Even a simple accident or slip-up can get out of hand fast. A couple of ways that you can make sure you're prepared to use it safely:

  • Dress in safety gear. Pressure washers with high enough psi have been able to cut through work boots before. Dressing to use one is no joke! To maximize your safety when using the machine, wear thick, non-slip work boots, jeans, and safety goggles to protect your eyes against debris kicked up by the pressure washer. We also recommend that you use ear protection like earplugs to protect your hearing against loud noise (especially important when using a noisy gas-powered engine).
  • Practice on a small area first. It's good to get a feel for the pressure washer first before you launch straight into the project. With the water pressure you're working with, if you're not ready for it, it can be easy to accidentally lose control of the washer. Practice on a small patch of the area you're planning on cleaning to make sure you feel comfortable using it and you know how it handles, and to check that the pressure/nozzle that you're using won't damage the surface you're working on.
  • Make sure you have a steady water supply. Your machine will specify a certain amount of gallons of water it uses per minute. Ensuring that your water supply matches your machine's needs is essential. We advise that you invest in a long, kink-free hose so that your machine will have a sufficient reach and ample water supply for you to complete your project.

Get The Area Ready For The Clean!

You only want to clean one kind of surface at a time, so make sure you focus on that area until your project's done. Get that area ready before you jump in with the pressure washer! If you're washing a surface like your driveway or sidewalk, sweep it free of any loose dirt and debris first. Make sure to trim back any plant life that may get in the way of the area you're trying to clean. If you're cleaning a spot that's close to electrical fixtures like outdoor lighting, cover these fixtures up and shut off the electricity in that area through the breaker box. Make sure that people or pets won't wander into the area you're planning on cleaning, lest they startle you or get hurt. By preparing your area ahead of time, not only will you ensure that your cleaning project is effective and thorough, but it will also keep you and your property safe from harm.

If you want to tackle a pressure washing project at home, knowing what to expect going in will benefit you greatly. Like we said at the top of the article, pressure washing can be a lot of satisfying fun! If you're the kind of person that likes cleaning around the house, pressure washing can be a great way to spend a long hot afternoon. But for those times when you don't feel like cleaning, or when you're faced with a major cleaning project, we're always a phone call away to take on the job!

Ej's Powerwash & Detail is here for any of your pressure washing needs! Call us at 864-684-4981 today if you've got a job for us. There's no crew in the Simpsonville and Greater South Carolina area that's better at caring for your home's exteriors. We're committed to keeping South Carolina beautiful- starting with your home.

Schedule a pressure washing service for your home today with Ej's Powerwash & Detail!