Springtime is here again, and that means that it’s time to prepare your outdoor spaces for use as the weather heats up and we head toward summer. You’ll need to accomplish a whole list of tasks from cleaning patios, decks and walkways to taking care of siding maintenance and patio furniture. The thing that a number of these outdoor chores have in common is one tool – a pressure washer.
If you’ve never used a pressure washer, you may see them as nothing more than a harmless cleaning tool. When used correctly, that is true. If you don’t know how to handle one, though, you could end up doing a vast amount of costly damage to your property. At Doug Ashy, we want you to be able to get your outdoor cleaning done fast, safely and with minimum hassle. To that end, we’ve prepared a guide to pressure washers that will get you ready to choose the right tool for your specific needs and make sure that you know exactly how to use it.
Choosing The Right Unit
All pressure washers are created equal, right? Wrong. Although the various types of pressure washers available are similar, there are some important differences you should be aware of when choosing between them. The first (and most obvious) difference you’ll notice is that certain pressure washers are electrically-powered, while others operate using a gas-powered engine. As you might expect, the units that are electrically powered tend to produce a lower-pressure stream of water than their gas-powered counterparts.
Choose an electrically-powered unit for tasks like:
Cleaning small patios and decks
Cleaning outdoor furniture
Cleaning automobiles (at low power and with care!)
Choose a gas-powered model for tasks like:
Preparing siding for painting
Deep cleaning concrete
Removing deep-set deck stains
Large patios and decks
If your outdoor tasks include things from both lists, it’s a good idea to choose a gas-powered pressure washer. You can lower the pressure output on many of them to be able to still safely accomplish smaller tasks. Just remember—never use a gas-powered pressure washer on a vehicle or any other painted surface. Even at their lowest power settings, they will damage such surfaces almost immediately upon use.
Basic Operation Tips
Once you’ve chosen the pressure washer that’s right for your outdoor tasks, you’ll need to know how to use it correctly. The first thing you’ll have to do is make sure you’re wearing proper protective gear. You should always use safety goggles and protective footwear with rubberized soles to minimize the risk of slipping on wet surfaces. Also, it’s a good idea to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to make sure you aren’t injured by flying debris.
Once you’re dressed for the job, begin by preparing your work area. Move any small or fragile objects away from where you’ll be using the pressure washer. Prepare the pressure washer itself by following the instructions in the included user manual and by selecting the right nozzle for the task you’ll be working on. Make sure to test the machine on a small, inconspicuous area of the surface you’re working on before proceeding to make sure you’re getting the results you expect.
The correct methods of use for a pressure washer will vary based on the type of surface you’re cleaning and its orientation. In general:
When working on siding or walls, you’ll always want to clean from the top down to avoid re-soiling areas you’ve already cleaned.
You should always try to keep the nozzle of the washer at a 45-degree angle to the surface being cleaned. That will make sure you aren’t driving dirt deeper into the surface you’re working on.
Keep the nozzle about 18 inches from the surface you’re cleaning to avoid doing any damage.
Getting the Job Done
As you’re working your way through your pressure washing tasks, it’s important to take your time. Don’t let the spray stay in any one place for more than a moment, and try to use broad, sweeping motions as you move across the surface. Make sure to overlap the areas that you’re spraying to avoid the appearance of visible lines when the surface dries. While you’re getting the hang of using the pressure washer, don’t take any chances with heavily soiled areas. You may be tempted to focus on visible stains, but you’ll get far better results with multiple passes over any problem spots. If you stick to these general guidelines, you’ll begin to understand the cause-and-effect of the techniques, and as you gain comfort, you can modify them to suit your particular cleaning needs.
If you’re about to tackle an outdoor pressure washing job, you should now be able to choose the right unit for your needs and safely operate it. Take the time to read over the instructions for the power washer you’re using as it will have much more specific guidance than we can provide here. Once you master basic pressure washing techniques, your outdoor cleanup will become a breeze, and you may even find yourself having fun doing it.
If you’re still not sure what kind of pressure washer your specific outdoor cleanup requires, head over to any of our locations today and let our helpful, knowledgeable staff walk you through everything you need to know to make the right choice. We’re always happy to help!