A home pressure washer is a great time saving tool for cleaning decks, bikes, cars and many outdoor equipment. In addition, they are useful for maintaining a home and yard's look and curb appeal. A home pressure washer is essentially a motorized pump that sprays water out at a very high velocity. The pressure produced is at least 30 times that of a normal garden hose so cleaning is done quicker and easier. In addition, many stubborn stains that are impossible to remove with standard methods are easily washed away with a home pressure washer. High end machines can also be used to strip paint and clean aluminum siding.
A pressure washer is measured by how much pounds per square inch (psi) and gallons per minute (gpm) of water it can produce. The higher the value psi, the tougher stains that can be removed. The amount of psi you need depends on the task:
- 1,000 to 1,500 PSI is good for most cleaning jobs (cars, lawn furniture, bikes etc.)
- 1,500 to 2,000 PSI is good for cleaning decks and patios
- 2,000 to 3,000 PSI can clean aluminum siding
- 3,000 to 4,000 PSI can strip paint or remove stains from concrete
Gas or Electric?
Pressure cleaners are powered by electric or gas motors. A gas motor powered home pressure washer can exert much more psi and wash more gpm than its electrical cousins. However, they require much more maintenance in terms of frequent oil changes, spark plug replacement and fuel additives for a long life. Electrical machines on the other hand require only a good cleaning after each use and tend to be much cheaper. However, electrical motors tend to burn out much quicker than gas versions. It comes down to personal preference and use. If you plan to use the home pressure washer very often and can invest the time and money to maintain it, a gas powered machine is probably for you. But if you only need a cleaner for occasional use and don't need very high power, consider getting an electrical motor.
Features to look for when buying a home pressure washer:
- Decide between hot or cold water pressure washer. A cleaner that uses hot water can clean many more stains and are better for sanitation purposes. However, hot water cleaners are much more expensive than a cold water machine.
- Bayonet connections that insert and twist lock to hold hoses in place tend to leak. O-ring connections tend to last longer and do not leak as often.
- Pressure cleaners come with either fixed adjustable nozzle wands. An adjustable tip is useful for quickly switching the angle of the spray which helps to regulate the pressure coming out of the sprayer. Many people find this convenient, but adjustable nozzles tend to wear down sooner and do not have the variety that fixed angle tips provide. If the pressure washer you are considering does not have a good set of wands/nozzles, there are many specialty wands and nozzles available.
- Some pressure washers allow you to adjust the psi level. Unfortunately, this feature is found in only the more expensive models, but it can be useful to lower the psi when cleaning delicate paint jobs like your car.
- Look for air-filled tires if you plan to move the home pressure washer often. Heavy duty machines can weigh over 100 lbs and moving them around the house can be difficult without good tires. Pneumatic tires also keep the machines from vibrating and moving around during use.