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What To Look For When Purchasing A Pressure Washer

Pressure washers make cleaning quick and easy. Not to mention, almost effortless. But what exactly are pressure washers and how do they work?


Here’s the simple explanation: Most garden hoses generally pour out 8 gallons of water each minute. Attach a spray gun to it and the flow reduces to 5 gallons per minute in turn increasing the water pressure from 10 PSI (pounds over square inch) when disposed from a standard garden hose to 40 PSI, basically increasing the pressure almost 4 times over. The amount of water used in this case is also reduced.


A pressure washer uses this same principle, except it is powered by a gas powered engine or an electric motor boosting the water pressure to 1000-4000 PSI.


The pressure is thus extreme and strong enough to actually clean stuff whether it is mud, pollen, dried grass clippings or even the greasy film caused by pollution in the air.

pressure washer cleaning

Types of pressure washers


Pressure washers are available in two options -- a gas-powered type and an electric-powered one.


Electric washers are preferred for small and light projects such as cleaning patio furniture or vehicles. Keep in mind that electric pressure washers require the machine to be plugged into an electrical socket using the built-in cord at all times.


Gas washers power-up large PSI’s and are definitely recommended for tougher jobs such as cleaning decks, patios and even building exteriors. Ensure that you are aware of the cranking mechanism needed for the washer you are purchasing as a few need to be cranked with a manual pull-start. There are also pressure washers that have an electric starter available.


Technical terms you need to be aware of


If you are on the market for a pressure washer, here are a couple of terms you will come across in relation to the machine. The better you understand these terms, the more equipped you will be before making a buying decision.


PSI: This is the measure used for water pressure. Knowing a machine’s PSI (pounds over square inch) will tell you how efficient the machine will be at cleaning certain surfaces and stains. Stronger the chemical bond, more the PSI needed.


GPM: Gallons per minute (GPM) is a measurement for water flow. Larger the count of GPM, more the surface area a pressure washer can clean. Also remember that machines with higher GPM will consume much more water than those with lower GPMs.


CU: Cleaning Units (CU) measure the true test of pressure when cleaning. This can be compared using the same amount of water pressure and two different streams of water.


Size of the pressure washer: How big is big enough


The size of the pressure washer you will need is dependent on the kind of work that you are going to be doing. More often than not, this isn’t a very easy choice to make. Before you start, you will first need to broadly identify the type of work that you plan to use the washer for.


The load of the machine can be categorized in three segments: Residential, light commercial and professional cleaning washers.


Depending on the application of the washer, your purchase decision will accordingly vary.


Pressure Washers For Home Use


Pressure washes made for homes are equipped with a consumer engine and a consumer grade pump which means that they aren’t mean for heavy duty cleaning. These pressure washers work well to clean your cars weekly or to clean sidings in the spring.


They can generate a PSI from anywhere between 1300 to 3100 – which can be comfortably used to clean cars, outdoor furniture, grills and small sized decks, sidings and patios.

Some suitable pressure washers for use by homeowners we have reviewed extensively, can be found below;
The Snap On 2000 psi pressure washer can be seen here
The Ryobi 1700 psi pressure washer can be found here
The Greenworks 1950 psi pressure washer can be found here
The Sun Joe 3000 psi pressure washer can be seen here
The Blue Clean AR383 1900 psi pressure washer can be seen here
The Simpson MSH 3125S 3100 psi gas powered pressure washer can be seen here


In this case, the physical size of the machine must also be kept in mind. Look for a compact and lightweight size along with a high-pressure hose that is flexible and has a variety of nozzles.


A pro-style steel spray band, a tank for detergents, storage onboard for a spray gun, a wand, nozzles, hose and a power cord are a few essential features you must look for in an electric washer.


Most pressure washers made for the home are equipped with a combination of either a professional pump or consumer engine or a professional engine and a consumer pump. These are designed to handle regular chores and can be frequently used far often than basic consumer models.


Power Washers For Heavy Duty Use


Gas washers generate a PSI of 2000 to 3100 units disposing between 2 and 2.5 gallons per minute enabling it to carry out heavier tasks than the electric washers. These can be used for home as well as at shops for decks, patios, fences, vehicles and boats.


We have reviewed some of the best Generac pressure washers here

A few heavy duty machines come with large wheels which is something you must look for in the physical aspects of the machine.

The Simpson PS 3228 is a heavy duty washer and can be seen her in one of our pressure washer reviews.


In terms of features, an overhead cam of superior quality or an overhead valve engine is preferred. Other features that must be kept in mind are aluminium or brass heads axial cam pumps for handling high pressures, a hose that is poly-braided or steel braided along with a steel sized spray wand enabled quick connect coupling and numerous spray tips.


Commercial Grade Pressure Washers


Gas engines are also available with 3200 to 4200 PSI that can dispense 2.8 to 4 gallons per minute. These are professional grade water pressure washers that are mainly used for stripping paint, surface preparation, cleaning sites and large fleet maintenance.


These pressure washers need to be equipped with a commercial series engine along with a commercial duty triplex pump.


The frame is made from heavy grade steel and also has an axle that is made from solid steel. Ensure that the hose is steel-braided as well and can handle high pressure resistance. Numerous spray tips are generally packaged along with the machine.


Professional models are meant for heavy duty usage and are thus equipped with a professional grade engine as well as pump. These pressure washers can run for hours at a stretch, much longer that basic consumer models.


Professional units can also handle heavy duty cleaning very well which is not possible with basic consumer models as the pump in the case of the latter will end up burning out much faster with heavy-duty use.