A beginner's guide to pressure washing

Pressure washing is a powerful cleaning method that can easily and effectively clean your home’s exterior surfaces. Whether you’re looking to clean your driveway, deck, or siding, with a pressure washer you can get professional results without paying a hefty amount.

In this beginner’s comprehensive guide to pressure washing, we will explore the basics including the equipment you’ll need, safety precautions to consider, types of pressure washers, type of nozzle you should use, and steps to effectively clean various surfaces.

What is Pressure Washing?

Pressure washing removes dirt, grime, mold, dust, mud, and other unwanted substances from surfaces using a high-pressure water spray. Pressure washing is a great way to clean large areas with ease.

Pressure washers: How Do They Work?

The motor or engine in the pressure washer turns a pump to pressurize water from a connected source, which is helpful for powerful and thorough cleaning.

The pump increases the water pressure which comes out of a small nozzle on the end of the wand.

This high-pressure water stream is what makes pressure washers so effective at removing dirt, grime, and stains from surfaces. The water moves quickly and has a lot of kinetic energy, which helps move things around on different types of surfaces. 

The nozzle at the end of the wand plays an important role in controlling the direction and intensity of the water stream, allowing you to adjust it based on the cleaning need.

Always remember that too much pressure can cause damage to the surfaces so be alert while cleaning dirt and grime using a pressure washer or power washer.

Also Read:
10 Things You Should Never Clean With a Pressure Washer

Types of Pressure Washers

Two main types of pressure washers are commonly used:
1. Electric Pressure Washer
2. Petrol (Gas) Pressure Washer.

Electric pressure washers are more cost-effective and easier to operate, making them ideal for light-duty tasks. In contrast, petrol (gas) powered pressure washers are more powerful and suitable for heavy-duty tasks.

Pressure washers can be categorized into three main groups which are based on the pounds per square inch (PSI) they produce.

Light-duty pressure washers typically have a PSI of 2,000 or less, perfect for cleaning small patios or vehicles.

Medium-duty pressure washers fall in the range of 2,000 to 2,800 PSI, suitable for larger areas like decks and fences.

Heavy-duty pressure washers boast a PSI of 3,000 to 3,300, designed for tough jobs like stripping paint or cleaning concrete surfaces.

Choose a pressure washer that helps you in your tasks.

Pressure Washing Steps

It’s important to follow a systematic plan when it comes to pressure washing. Follow the below points if you want to pressure wash your deck or patio.

1. Prepare the Area

A. Clear the deck or patio of any furniture, plants, or obstacles.
B. Clear any kind of debris and dirt to make sure the surface is clean.
C. Cover nearby plants or delicate or fragile items to protect them from the high-pressure water.

2. Set Up the Pressure Washer

A. Connect the right type of nozzle to the wand.
B. Make sure there’s a proper water supply and link the washer to a power source.
C. Get used to pressure washers and their safety features and understand how they work.

3. Begin Pressure Washing

A. Start from a safe distance to test the pressure and adjust as needed.
B. Work in sections, moving the wand in a consistent sweeping motion.
C. Rinse thoroughly to remove all dirt and cleaning solution residue.

Types of Pressure Washing Spray Nozzles

Choosing the right type of spray nozzle is very important to get the best cleaning results and target different types of dirt and surfaces. There are different types of spray nozzles for pressure washing each with specific functions based on their angle and intensity.

1. Red Nozzle: This nozzle works at a 0-degree angle and produces a powerful jet best for tough stains on hard surfaces but must be used with care because of its high pressure that can damage surfaces.

2. Yellow Nozzle: With a 15-degree angle this nozzle is ideal for removing paint or mildew. It also has a slightly wider spray that works best for heavy-duty cleaning.

3. Green Nozzle: This nozzle works at a 25-degree angle and is handy for general cleaning tasks such as removing dirt, grime, and algae from decks and patios.

4. White Nozzle: With a 40-degree angle this nozzle provides a gentle spray perfect for cleaning windows, cars, and fragile surfaces.

5. Black Nozzle: Black nozzle works at a 65-degree angle and uses low-pressure water it is mainly used for applying soap and detergents.

To choose the right type of spray nozzle, you should think about the surface material, the type of dirt, and the distance from the surface.

Pressure Washing Terms

PSI and BAR are units of measurement. PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) shows the pressure output of your machine. Whereas BAR is the metric measure of pressure, 1 BAR is equal to approximately 14.5038 PSI. By understanding these measurements you can easily understand and adjust the pressure as per the surface that you’re cleaning.

Now come to GPM  and LPM units these two are important in finding the flow rate of water. GPM stands for (Gallons Per Minute) 1 GPM equals to approx 3.79 LPM whereas LPM stands for (Liters Per Minute). Monitoring GPM & LPM is important to make sure you have enough water flow to clean the exterior surface without wasting water.

Safety Tips For Pressure Washing

1. Always wear protective goggles while pressure washing as it will protect your eyes from debris and chemicals.
2. Read the manual carefully before using the pressure washer so that you can understand how the machine functions and its safety protocols.
3. Maintain a safe distance between the nozzle and any surfaces that you’re cleaning to prevent any kind of injuries or damage.
4. Do not operate the pressure washer in wet conditions as it can increase the risk of electrocution. 
5. Always start with a lower pressure setting and gradually increase it as needed.
6. Make sure to set up your pressure washer on a stable surface and use the correct amount of pressure for the surface you’re cleaning.
7. Gas-powered pressure washers can produce a much higher psi than electric ones, so be careful when using them to avoid any kind of damage to your wood or patio furniture.
8. Always start working your way from the bottom up to prevent streaking.
9. Pressure wash the surface while it’s still damp or slightly wet, as dry surfaces can be more difficult to clean.
10. If you are still not confident in your abilities, then consider hiring a professional pressure washing service to make sure the job is done safely and effectively.

Pressure Washing Tips Concrete

1. To pressure wash concrete use the Green nozzle that works at a 25-degree angle.
2. 3,000 and 3,500 PSI is the right power for a pressure washer if you want to clean the household concrete.
3. Sometimes problems occur because of our own mistakes and if you are seeing dirt lines after pressure washing then it means you didn’t put much effort and time into cleaning the surface.
4. A pressure washer is good for cleaning the top surface but not inside the small pores. To do that you can use detergent that completely cleans any mold, mildew, or dirt from concrete. There are many types of cleaners available in the market that you can use to clean the pores completely.
5. If you have rust or oil stains on your concrete then it needs some special cleaners and techniques. Rust and oil stains are difficult to clean as they go inside the pores and cannot be cleaned easily. If you try to clean it via a pressure washer you clean only the top surface and the leftover stain inside the pores will return the stain.
6. Never use a pressure washer to remove coatings or sealers. Doing this will build up water pressure in tiny areas which breaks the concrete top and can leave etch marks. If you damage the top layer of the concrete then it will be very prone to damage.
7. It’s good to seal your concrete to keep stains and dirt from entering inside our concrete pores. This will increase the life of the concrete and also make it easier to clean using a pressure washer. All dirt and stains will stick on the top surface which will be clean in no time.

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