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Using a Power Washer Tips

Read these 42 Using a Power Washer Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Pressure Washers tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Can I apply the detergent in high pressure mode?

Apply Detergent on Low Pressure

It may be tempting to spray the chemical cleaner on high pressure, but doing so won't get you anywhere faster. When power washing, you should always apply the detergent on low pressure for two reasons. First, if you tried to spray the detergent on high pressure, the force and speed would simply make the solution splash off, resulting in a waste of your time. Second, chemical injectors do not typically work in high-pressure mode, but will switch from low pressure to high pressure from the wand. This transition makes the process smoother for you, so that you can go straight from applying the detergent to rinsing it off.

   
What's the best way to avoid streak marks when I'm power washing?

Avoiding Streaks

If you've done a fair amount of power washing, you're probably familiar with this problem. You've just spent a good amount of time meticulously cleaning the entire surface of a wall and at the end, and you find streak marks when you're done. To avoid this unsightly problem, always start at the top of the wall surface and work your way down when you're rinsing. Your freshly cleaned wall will be streak free.

   
How do I clean out a clogged nozzle?

Unclogging the Nozzle

So you've figured out how to operate a pressure washer, but now the nozzle is clogged and you don't know how to clean it. First make sure you disconnect the spray wand from the gun. Next, get a small piece of rigid wire to clear out the nozzle. A straightened paper clip will do the trick. Use water to flush out the nozzle backwards and then reconnect the wand to the gun. Now you can test out the nozzle by starting the pressure washer and pressing the trigger on the spray gun. If there's still a clog, try cleaning it again a few times. After a couple tries, if you're not successful, your best bet is to replace the nozzle entirely.

   
What could be wrong with my pressure washer if I have oil leaks?

Oil Leaks

Have you had oil leakage problems with your pressure washer? Whether you're power washing your home or using it for commercial or industrial purposes, you still need to properly maintain your unit. A pressure washer that leaks oil could be doing so for a few reasons:

• Check your oil indicator to make sure that you're not filling your pump with too much oil.
• Make sure the ventilation hole leading to your crank case is not plugged.
• Make sure the oil seals on the plungers aren't wearing down. If they are, you'll find oil build-up on between your pump and the transmission.

   
What additional precautions should I take when using a pressure washer?

Pressure Washing Precautions

There is a lot more to think about in how to operate a pressure washer, than blasting a surface with water. Here are a few precautions to take to ensure safe pressure-washing from start to finish.

*Wear protective gloves and clothing when working with chemicals.
*Wear protective gloves and clothing when working with media temperatures over 140 F.
*Do not allow gun to freeze. Always store and transport gun in temperatures above 32 F.
*Inspect and maintain spray gun. Ensure safe operation by inspecting gun for leaks or damage before every use.

   
Airless or pump up pressure washer?

Pump Up Your Power Washer

When it comes to sprayers when you are using your power washer, you have your Pump-ups and your airless. Which one you choose will depend on the job you are doing and your personal preferences. Pump up sprayers are fairly inexpensive and lightweight. Tanks range in capacity from 8oz. up to 4 gallons. You can use the 1-3 gallon sprayers for applying thin viscosity cleaners, strippers, neutralizers, sealers and semi-transparent stains. You can also get these popular size units in backpack models with either a pumping mechanism or a battery powered pump.

   
When should I use an 0-degree nozzle?

Using the Blasting Nozzle

The 0-Degree Nozzle is a blasting nozzle. It delivers a very concentrated stream of water. If you're not careful with this bad boy, you could gouge wood or damage fragile surfaces. So use caution.

The 0-degree is best for removing weeds from sidewalk cracks, stubborn stains from concrete, masonry, aluminum and steel, caked mud from equipment and cleaning lawn mower undersides.

   
I'm having problems with low water pressure on my pressure washer. Do you have any suggestions?

Low Water Pressure

So you're figuring out how to operate a pressure washer and there's a problem with the water pressure. It just doesn't seem to be strong enough. There could be a number of reasons why you've got a problem. Go through this list to help you troubleshoot:

• The tip may be too large or old.
• The pump inlet could be leaking air.
• Your pump or unloader may be bypassing water.
• The pipe could be too small for adequate water flow.

   
How do I pressure wash grafitti from a masonry surface?

Removing Graffiti From Masonry Surfaces

Removing freelance artwork and remarks from a municipalities public concrete surfaces is a never-ending process. The best option for this type of surface is to power-wash the graffiti with a 3000psi-pressure washer. Be careful in selecting the type of tip you use in the pressure wand. Too narrow of a tip (such as 0 degree) will etch the masonry surface leaving a perfect outline of the graffiti removed, which only creates another eyesore.

   
When should I use the wash nozzle?

Using the Wash Nozzle

The 40-Degree Nozzle is a wash nozzle. Its wide spray pattern disperses the water pressure over a large area and is recommended for rinsing and moderate washing.

The 40-degree is best for washing down aluminum siding, cleaning windows, washing vehicles, spraying sidewalks, driveways and patios.

   
What types of acids and alkaline detergents are used in a 2 step proce

Better Power Washing Through Chemistry

We've come a long way from the sixties, from dropping acid, to spraying it on the side of a house. What a country. But seriously, Acid based power washing detergents contain active ingredients like Hydrofluoric, Hydrochloric, Sulfuric and Phosphoric acids. Alkaline based power washing detergents contain active ingredients like Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Metasilicate and Limonene.

One caution:
You don't want to mix bleach with any of these active ingredients because you could cause a fire, release of hazardous gases, pressurization in a closed container, which could lead to an explosion.

   
Why use turbo nozzles with a pressure washer?

Turbo Nozzles 101

Turbo nozzles for your pressure washer cost the big bucks because they do a bang up job every time they are called upon. They hit your surface with a cone-shaped, high-speed oscillating 0 degree beam that blasts stubborn, cling-on filth from the surface. With a Turbo nozzle on your pressure washer you can wash away more guck and grime in a lot less time.

   
How should I handle my pressure washer when I've finished a task?

Shutting Down

When you're finishing up a power washing task, make sure you follow through with shutting down your unit properly. You should run by this checklist:

• Make sure you've flushed the cleaning detergent injection system.
• Allow the engine to idle for a few minutes before turning it off.
• Shut off the water supply.
• Disconnect the hoses and all attachments.
• Empty out all the liquids from the pump.
• Store your pressure washer in a cool, dry place.

   
How do I pressure wash a stable?

Using a Pressure Washer to Sanitize a Stable

Once the dry-cleaning process has been completed, you are ready to proceed to the sanitizing phase. You should be aware that high levels of infective material will still remain in the area.

By removing soiling from the walls and floors with products that combine detergent capacity and a biocidal activity ensures greasy deposits do not remain on rough surfaces e.g. concrete and wood. Detergent-sanitizers also reduce the time taken to clean by up to 60%, and reduce the spread of disease in washing water. Follow these steps to complete the disinfection.

*Use a brand-name detergent-sanitizer.
*Apply with a knapsack sprayer or pressure washer. The pressure washer should be set on a low pressure setting 500 psi (35 bars) using a 45 degree angle jet. Use the appropriate application rate.
*Start at the apex of the roof and work down the walls to the floor paying particular attention to corners and other areas where dirt accumulates.
*Caked soiling should be brushed if necessary to aid removal.
*Allow surfaces to dry where possible before disinfection.

   
Which pressure washing tip goes with which type of job?

Nozzle Knowledge

Like a fine artist, you will need to know which colors of your pressure washing palette are best for your particular working surface. The White 45 degree nozzle is the best choice for cleaning wood surfaces. The reason is that the 45 degree fan delivers the pressure over a larger area which is comparatively less damaging to wood surfaces. Also, check this out. The nozzle guys didn't choose their colors arbitrarily. No. They color coded them not only to make it easier for you to identify them, but so you can know how hard they hit a surface. Red = Strong and Dangerous, Yellow = Caution, Green = Ok, White = safest. The black nozzle utilizes the least pressure.

   
What is upstream injecting

Upstream Injecting

Upstream injecting with your power washer is very much like downstream injecting, except that the liquid you wish to inject, such as a detergent, goes into the high pressure line before the pump in your power washer. You should be aware, however, that whatever you put into the system could damage the pump and its internal components. This leads to the question: Why in the Sam Hill would you ever want to engage in upstream injecting?

   
What is downstream injecting?

Downstream Injecting

Despite what you might think, downstream injecting has nothing to do with diabetics on a fishing trip. No. Downstream injecting just means that you introduce an additional liquid, such as a detergent, into your power washer through an injector that is mounted after the pump into the high pressure line side. This is usually done in low pressure mode. If you want to do a little high pressure mode injecting in your power washer, you will need an injector designed to operate at high pressures. You'll be happy to know that some of these high pressure injectors can be temporarily installed on the end of your gun lance. (Oooh, baby!)

   
How powerful is a power-washer spray?

This Ain't Your Granny's Garden Hose

A researcher for a consumer information magazine designed a rig to measure just how much power a pressure washer delivers. The spray hit a metal target and a scale registered the amount of force. It turns out gas pressure washers are 20 times more powerful than a regular garden hose. And pressure washers can do a lot of damage, "You can see here even on this metal target it got worn away."

Even less-powerful electric washers can tear into your home's siding or deck if the spray is too narrow. Worse still, you could hurt yourself. How badly? After cleaning the patio last year, one gentleman forgot for a moment that he wasn't using a regular hose and went to rinse his feet. By the time he realized what he was doing, his skin was ripped. Tony now bears a zigzag scar across his ankle and foot.

   
How do I change pressure settings?

Changing the Pressure Setting on a Power Washer

Adjusting the pressure on your washer, depends on what kind of equipment you are using. Some pressure washers are equipped with a pressure regulator that lets you change the pressure. If you don't have a regulator, you can use the more common method to regulate your pressure: Change to a nozzle with a larger opening. This allows more water to come through the nozzle while reducing pressure build-up behind it.

   
Besides using an attachment, what can I do to help reach higher areas?

Reaching New Heights

Power washing higher surfaces can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Consider using a pressure washer extension wand or telescoping wand to help reach out of the way areas. In addition, you can always adjust your nozzle to a narrow spray pattern. This will help propel your water flow upwards, but you may still get an inconsistent spray pattern. Just use multiple passes at hard to clean areas and this will loosen any remaining dirt.

   
When should I use a Turbo nozzle?

Using the Turbo Nozzle

A Turbo Nozzle sprays water out a zero degree orifice. The spray exits the nozzle at an angle while rotating. The rotation allows the spray to simulate a fan pattern. This allows the operator to cover a larger area.

With the increased tearing action of the rotating spray, the turbo nozzle is best for caked on mud, peeling paint, concrete cleaning and other applications where a flat fan isn't enough.

   
What's the fastest way to change pressure when I'm using my pressure washer?

Easy Water Pressure Fix

In a pressure washer, the plunger pump puts out a constant volume of water. Regardless of whether you've set your unit to pump out at high pressure or low pressure the same amount of water passes through. Most people adjust the pressure on the nozzle when power washing, depending on the type of pressure they want. But if you want a quick adjustment without interrupting what you're doing, all you need to do is adjust the distance between your nozzle and the surface you're spraying.

   
What are some precautions about using a spray gun?

Spray Gun Safety

Just because a pressure washer shoots water instead of bullets, doesn't mean that the spray can't hurt someone. Follow these common sense rules to ensure injury-free pressure washer operation. *Never direct spray toward any part of your body or any other person.
*Always engage the safety lock-off after use to prevent unintended operation.
*Never block or wire the trigger lever in the open position. Obstructing the trigger lever will cause improper operation. Discontinue use if gun valve does not close immediately upon trigger release.
*Never exceed the pressure and flow ratings of the gun.
*Ensure all pressure is released from the system before attempting to repair.

   
When should I use a chiseling nozzle?

Using the Chiseling Nozzle

The 15-Degree Nozzle is a chiseling nozzle. Direct your spray at a 45-degree angle to the surface and use it like a scraper to remove paint, grease and dirt.

The 15-degree is best for surface preparation (removing peeling paint and mildew stains(, cleaning gutters and downspouts.

   
What are the basic pressure washing nozzles?

A Nose for Nozzles

The pressure washer nozzle manufacturers have thought of everything to make choosing a nozzle easier. Most pressure washers today come with 5 color-coded tips:

1.Black. This your soap nozzle. It activates injector for soap application

2.Red. Has a 0 degree pattern and emits a lean mean jet of water

3. Yellow. Has a 15 degree pattern. Produces a tight 15 degree constriction fan spray

4. Green. Has a 25 degree pattern. Produces a wider 25 degree constriction fan spray

5. White. Features a 45 degree pattern. At 45 degrees constriction, produces the widest fan spray

   
How can I calculate pipe pressure loss?

Calculating Pipe Pressure Loss

The values in the chart below present the approximate calculations since the pipe pressure loss can be affected by other factors, including water temperature, pipe ID tolerance, type of fittings, and pipe inner wall smoothness. In addition, schedule 40 and schedule 80 pipes have different IDs and, therefore, different pressure losses.

WATER FLOW GPM HOSE INSIDE DIAMETER, INCHES
1/4" 5/16" 3/8" 1/2"
1 54 PSI 20 PSI 7 PSI 2 PSI
2 180 PSI 60 PSI 25 PSI 6 PSI
3 380 PSI 120 PSI 50 PSI 13 PSI
4 - 220 PSI 90 PSI 24 PSI
5 - 320 PSI 130 PSI 34 PSI
6 - - 220 PSI 52 PSI
8 - - 300 PSI 80 PSI
10 - - - 120 PSI

   
Is hot water best for pressure washing?

Some Like it Hot...

In the wide world of pressure washing, hot water is cool as a cleaning tool, whereas cold water is, well, all wet. As we learned in 9th grade science, water temperature changes the nature of solids. You can't emulsify oil with cold water, because as we all know, oil and water don't mix. In fact, the oil will stick to itself as water gets colder. You apply hot water, however, and the oil will start to unstick and emulsify, which makes it easier to wash away. Hot water also helps added chemicals to absorb into a solution more quickly. You can see this by doing a little experiment. Mix a powdered cleaner into cold water and you'll notice that some of it will remain undissolved at the bottom of the bucket. If you mix the same powdered cleaner in hot water, it will dissolve completely, leaving virtually no residue. Bottom line - you may get farther with a hot water pressure washer, but do your homework, the results of hot water on a wood house will leave cold.

   
What's the story on pressure washer unloaders?

Pressure Actuated vs Flow Activated Unloaders

You'll know if you have a Pressure Actuated unloader on your pressure washer as soon as you pull the trigger. You'll feel an abrupt pressure spike. Why? While in by-pass mode, the pressure actuated unloaders keep your high pressure line at or near full pressure and your hose rigid. As you might imagine, a pressure actuated unloader on your pressure washer will help you finish your jobs faster. On the other hand, with all that constant high pressure, the system wears out faster, so you'll need to replace the hose, swivel and O-ring more often. You won't get as big a kick out of a flow actuated unloader. This type of equipment for your power washer allows the pressure to build up over a few seconds, so there is less of a jolt when you pull the trigger. The line pressure on flow type unloaders drops to near zero when in by-pass mode leaving you with a more flexible hose. Even though he Flow type unloader is under less stress, relatively speaking, it tends to have a shorter life span than its Pressure Actuated cousin.

   
When should I use a flushing nozzle?

Using the Flushing Nozzle

The 25-degree nozzle is a flushing nozzle. This guy has a narrower spray pattern and more concentrated spray pressure than the 40-degree nozzle.

The 25-degree is best suited for flushing dirt, mud and grime. You'll find it comes it works best for wet-sweeping leaves from walks, curbs, and driveways, cleaning stable floors, washing swimming pool bottoms and blasting barbecue grills.

   
How do I keep my engine running efficiently?

Think Sparks in the Spring

Proper engine maintenance helps keep your power washing equipment running smoothly. Make sure you don't have eroded spark plugs or you won't get a consistent spark. New spark plugs will keep your engine starting reliably and improve fuel economy. Change your old spark plugs out for new ones each spring to make sure your engine stays in good shape.

   
How far away should I stand from a surface when I'm power washing?

Standing Distance

How far you stand away from the surface you are cleaning when you're power washing depends on several factors – the pressure washer unit you are using, the force of the water pressure, the gallons per minute the water is flowing at, and the surface that you're washing. As a general rule of thumb, you can stand four to five feet away from the vertical surface you're washing and then move closer if need be. Always be aware of your surrounding area and stay clear of open electrical areas.

   
Do you have any tips for technique when I'm using my pressure washer?

Pressure Washer Technique

So you've read the manual on how to operate a pressure washer, and now you're ready to start. But what should you do about technique? Well, if you're spraying a new surface, start off by holding the nozzle four to five feet away and spray with a wide nozzle pattern. You can always move in closer and adjust the nozzle once you have a feel for what works. Keep you nozzle in constant motion and maintain a steady distance as you move along.

   
When should I use the Soap-Injector nozzle?

Using the Soap Injector Nozzle

The Soap Injector Nozzle is the low pressure soaping nozzle. When used with the Suttner Soap Injector, this nozzle will allow a soft spray soaking of the surface with a liquid soap or detergent.

This nozzle is best for equipment cleaning, removing mildew and oxidations stains from houses, cleaning effervescent brick and degreasing.

   
Is there anything that will make the pressure job more efficient?

Things to DO When Pressure Washing

Follow the safety guidelines, even for a small job.

1. Follow the manufacturers directions regarding power washing attachments, nozzles, and the right pressure washing chemicals.
2. Adjust the pressure to the recommended PSI for each job.
3. Always test the pressure washer in a small area out of sight to make sure that the pressure spray will not damage the material.
4. Don't allow any cleaning solution to sit on the surface long because it may dry and leave residue.
5. Rinse thoroughly after you finish.

   
Is it safe to use a pressure washer?

Safety Guidelines for Pressure Washing

Whenever you are about to operate your pressure washer, keep in mind the following power washer safety tips.

*Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection when operating your power washing equipment.
* Wear non-slip shoes and also wet weather outer gear if you do not wish to get wet.
* Never point the power washing spray at a person or animal.
* Never try to wash your hands or feet with a pressure washer because the force of the spray will peel your skin off.
* Read the manual carefully before starting the equipment.
* If operating a gas pressure washer, as with any time that you will be manipulating fuel, be familiar with the location and operation of fire extinguishing equipment.
* If you are using an electric pressure washer, beware of shock hazards.

   
How do I care for my pressure washing equipment?

Pressure Washing Equipment Maintenance

Maintenance will make your pressure washer investment last longer, so treat this cleaner like your car or truck!

1. Follow your owner's manual to find out the best type of oil for your type of pressure washer, and oil regularly as recommended.
2. Always check that your nozzles are clean because a clogged nozzle can cause damage to the pump. Before cleaning the nozzle, disconnect the spray wand and make to turn off the pressure washer.
3. If you are using the power washing equipment in below freezing temperatures you can minimize the chances of damaging your pressure washer adding antifreeze.
4. Store your pressure washer in a dry well ventilated place away from open flames or sparks. If the storage place is unheated, winterize to avoid freezing.

   
Why winterize a pressure washer?

Winterizing the pressure washer

At the beginning of Shakespeare's Richard III, the king says "Now is the winter of our discontent." He wasn't talking about an unwinterized pressure washer, but he could have been, if he had one. And that's the point. You could be quoting Shakespeare, or worse, if you don't winterize your pressure washing equipment. You see, water will freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees F. The teeny-tiny H2O molecules in your power washer expand and crystallize. It is here that the discontent sets in. Ice can cause burst hose lines, hose malfunction, cracked pump heads, pump piston packing damage, and a shortened pump life. You can avoid a winter of discontent by adding antifreeze to the pumping system of your pressure washer. You'll not only protect it from the effects of freezing but also prevent engine parts from corrosion.

   
I don't have any water flow on my pressure washer. What could be the problem?

Water Flow Issues

Are you learning how to operate a pressure washer and the water just won't start flowing? Before you get too frustrated trying to resolve the problem, check this troubleshooting reference to see if one of these fixes can help you with the problem.

• Make sure you have power available to your unit and that it is on.
• Check the gun, nozzle, and hot water coil for any clogs.
• Your unloader has a malfunction.

   
Is there anything I shouldn't do when pressure washing?

Things to AVOID when Pressure Washing

There are some operator pitfalls that you should avoid when using your power washer.

* Don't leave your pressure washer nozzle closed for more than one minute while the pressure washing equipment is still running as it may cause stress to the pump.
* Don't spray brittle surfaces like stucco, or laminar flagstone because it may lift the surface of the material.
* Do not use bleach, as it will damage parts of your pressure washing equipment.
* Do not use hot running water in your cold water pressure washer.
* Avoid spraying windows or glass doors because the force of the jet might break the glass.
* Do not spray light fixtures, flowerbeds or mailboxes.
* Finally, do not leave the pressure washer running unattended.

   
How do I operate the spray gun of a pressure washer?

How to operate a pressure washer spray gun

Using the spray gun on your pressure washer is as easy as one-two-spray:

After the gun has been properly installed on a pressure washer:

1) To spray, grasp the gun handle firmly, unlock the safety lever, direct the output in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger lever.

2) To stop spray, simply release the trigger lever while continuing to hold firmly onto the gun handle.

3) When taking a break or upon completing the job, lock the safety lever to prevent accidental operation.

   
What cause hose pressure loss?

Hose Pressure Loss

There may come a time, in the midst of a job, that you realize you are dealing with hose pressure loss. Obviously this is a problem because if you don't get the pressure, you are not going to complete the job properly.

When it comes to hose pressure loss, there are several known and potential causes. These can include problems with the inner liner surface of the hose, how you have laid your hose out prior to use, the pressure washer fittings you are using, and sometimes even the water temperature. Due to gravity, pressure loss will also obviously decrease if the hose is positioned up a hill or incline.

Once you ensure that your hose positioning is good and you are using water at the correct temperature, if you are still experiencing hose pressure wash you may want to try swapping out the hose or the fixtures. If the problem persists, call your pressure washers dealer.

   
Can I use my pressure washer with a barrel of water as the source?

Pressure Washers and Non-Pressurized Water Supplies

Your pressure washer pumps may be damaged when trying to utilize a non-pressurized water source. The water pumps in pressure washers are not designed to "suck water" or draw water in--they are built to accommodate a pressurized water source. If pressure washer pumps are forced to suck water in, they draw air in along with the water, which can damage the equipment. Always use a pressurized water source!

   
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Guru Spotlight
Ray Lokar