As summer slowly gives way to fall, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to clean up all the mess that’s accumulated around your house. You know the kind: algae growing on your siding, dirt and dust that’s discoloring your sidewalk and whatever that black stuff is on your deck.
It’s all gotta go and the best tool for the job is a pressure washer. Not just any pressure washer will do, though. There’s a lot to consider before you make your final purchase.
With any luck, this will the one and only time you’ll have to confront the idea that a pressure washer can be extremely dangerous. This isn’t just a high powered garden hose we’re talking about. Consumer units can send water out at 3,000 PSI or greater. When that’s matched with a narrow nozzle setting, you have a disaster waiting to happen.
Even pros have been known to make mistakes with high powered pressure washers, with results ranging from damage to the surface they were cleaning to more intimate issues like slicing through boots and flaying digits.
Don’t be a statistic. Always exercise caution with pressure washers.
With the most important disclosure of the day out of the way, it’s time to find the pressure washer that’s best for the work you plan to throw at it. As a rule of thumb, the more water (measured in gallons per minute) coming out at a higher pressure rating (PSI) will do a job faster. However, there’s a balance to be struck here because there is such a thing as too much with these machines.
Here are our five top tips for choosing your own pressure washer:
1. Try before you buy. When it comes to tools, especially bigger items like pressure washers, it’s important to try one out before you buy it. Whether you rent one or you borrow one from a friend, note the GPM and the PSI of the machine so you have a baseline to start with. Then try it out. Do you like the results you’re getting? Does it seem like overkill? These questions can help you decide what, if any, machine will be best for your needs.
2. Err on the side of caution. Normally with tools you want to buy for the widest functionality possible, but when it comes to a pressure washer, you’re best to spend a little more time working the grime away with a lower powered unit. Not only will this save money, it could save you or a family member from major injury one day. Instead of jumping into the super industrial model, maybe consider the higher end homeowner model and see if it’ll do the job.
3. Go mobile! You can buy pressure washers that are portable, but you have to drag all over the place, or you can choose one with wheels that will follow where you pull it. If you’re going to be moving around with the unit a lot, opt for wheels. You’ll save time, energy and trouble — and it’ll help you get jobs done faster since you’re not having to constantly step it along as you spray.
4. Consider both the power and the flow. When you’re comparison shopping for your unit, take a look at both the PSI and the GPM. Together, these numbers tell you how the unit will perform overall. For most jobs around the house, units that produce about 2,000 PSI at 2 GPM will do the job. However, if you plan to clean a lot of siding or a big deck, a unit that generates about 2,800 PSI at 2 to 3 GPM may be more appropriate.
5. Choosing between electric and gas. Most of the lower end units that are meant for easy jobs around the house are powered by electricity. Despite their light weight and easy start up, you’ll probably end up lugging an extra cord around as you go. That being said, the heavier duty models will almost all be gas-powered, which means you’ll have to maintain them just like a lawnmower, even if you only use them once a year.
Getting the right equipment and learning how to use it, especially when it’s a tool that’s potentially dangerous like a pressure washer, can take time. You may not even have decided which unit to buy before winter sets in. Since fall clean up waits for no one, the smart move may be to hire the job done this year.
As it turns out, there are lots of people in the HomeKeepr community that can help! Just log in and check out the home pros that your Realtor has already recommended. If the person for the job isn’t listed, you can request a reference from your network with just a click. It’s really that easy!