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Pressure Washer Safety Tips

Read these 16 Pressure Washer Safety 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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Is my pressure washer spray able to break skin?

Your Pressure Washer Spray

Every pressure washer owner's manual warns the reader not to point the spray at people or animals because the pressure is high enough to cause serious injury. This pressure is a potential hazard in other ways, especially to your fingers. Never try to change spray patterns or nozzles while the spray is on. You should also take care to prevent an unexpected spray by storing your pressure washer in the "closed" or off position. Activating your pressure washer with the nozzle closed or off keeps you in control of the water at all times, and prevents the hose or wand from kicking back at you. When you are done spraying for the day and the pressure washer is off, make sure you squeeze the trigger on a gun-style wand to relieve any pressure left in the hose.

What should I know about my owner manual recommendations?

What Your Manual Says

When using a pressure washer, it's vital to know what your owner manual recommends in terms of hose diameter, the necessary water flow rate (gallons per minute) and even what types of extension cords to use. Follow the manual to the letter in these areas. Did you know that many pressure washers have guidelines about what kind of socket to plug into? Many types of pressure washers should only be used with an electrical socket that is protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI. This prevents electrocution hazards. Power washers that carry this requirement should also be used on a "non-shared" outlet. Before starting any cleaning job, you should be familiar with how to quickly stop and power down your pressure washer in case of any emergency situation, electrical or otherwise.

Are there electrocution hazards associated with my power washer?

Pressure Washers And Electricity

It seems obvious to some, but many people forget that using a pressure washer puts the operator in harm's way when working too close to power lines, electrical outlets and other sources of electricity. Just as a kite can be dangerous when too close to power lines, the length of a power washer's spray can be a potential electrocution hazard. The main danger? Letting the water "arc" from the cleaning area into thin air. If the stream of water connects with an electricity source, electrocution can be the result. Many power washers are "double insulated" which may prevent you from harm, but the now-wet electricity source still poses a danger to others. When operating your pressure washer, do not let the spray wander off the surface you are cleaning. Be aware of the location of any power lines, fuse boxes, or generators in the vicinity. You may avoid personal injury, but careless use of a power washer can result in a blackout, electrical fire or other serious consequences.

How do I judge the right distance for power washer spray?

Power Washer Distances

Some people are hesitant to use power washers, usually because they have seen a deck or wall surface ruined by improper use of the washer. These surfaces can be destroyed when the operator holds the washer far too close to the area being cleaned. It's important to get familiar with the power washer by beginning with the spray far away from the surface and gradually finding the right distance for cleaning. Holding the spray too close (inches instead of feet away) not only destroys the surface being cleaned, it is also an eye hazard. You should not see pieces of your deck or wall flying away during the cleaning process. Holding the spray too close to the surface also creates a hazard if the water deflects from the wall or deck into your eyes. Tell your vendor exactly what you plan to use the power washer for and get some advice before purchasing.

Will my power washer kick back?

Pressure Washer Kickback

Learning how to use a pressure washer safely includes knowing how it will behave when the water pressure is first applied. Do you know if your particular model tends to kick back when that pressure starts? If not, take care when getting used to your equipment. Grip the spray gun with both hands and be ready for the power washer wand to "jump". You can experience this in two ways. Once when the spray is turned on and again when the water is applied to the surface being cleaned. This is why manufacturers advise against operating a pressure washer from stepladders, scaffolds and other platforms that tip or sway easily. You may find yourself unable to control the power washer, your balance or both.

Are there any special safety requirements for pressure washers in a cold climate?

Winter Pump Protection

It's important to familiarize yourself with pressure washer safety tips. For instance, if you live in a cold climate, you can face some irreversible damage with the pump in your pressure washer. Frozen water will expand and any remaining liquid in your pump can cause problems. To avoid broken and ruptured parts, make sure that you do the following:

• Store the pump in a warm area.
• Use compressed air to release the remaining fluid.
• Run a mixture of 50% antifreeze and 50% water through your pump.

Note: Check manufacturer recommendations for winter safety for your pressure washer.

Can I use bleach with my pressure washer?

Say No to Bleach

Some folks think using bleach with their pressure washer in lieu of approved pressure washing chemicals is O.K. Contrary to popular belief, this is not true. Don't ever add bleach to your pressure washer. Doing so can damage parts within the gun, wand, hose, and pumps. Always use only chemicals approved for use with your pressure washer. It will help keep your unit running smoothly and keep the environment clean as well.

Are there built in safety features on my pressure washer that I should be aware of?

Safety Checklist

Your pressure washer will come with its own built-in safety features. It's always a good idea to check to make sure the parts are working properly so that you don't have any safety problems down the line. Make sure your unloaders and thermal relief valves are in good working order. These parts prevent the temperature and pressure of the water from reaching unsafe levels. The oil level indicator on your pressure washer lets you know that your unit is properly lubricated.

Are there safety considerations in selecting pressure washing chemicals?

Use the Right Pressure Washing Chemical

It's important to make sure you choose the right pressure washing chemical for the right cleaning application and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Many manufacturers of pressure washers have a specific list of detergents approved for use with their equipment. This not only ensures optimal performance with your cleaning unit, but safe operation as well. Pressure washing chemicals have specific uses. Selecting the wrong pressure washing chemical could also mean you will damage the surface you are cleaning.

What should I do if I suspect a gas leak in my pressure washer?

Safety with Gas Units

Operating a gasoline fueled pressure washer requires paying special attention to pressure washer safety tips. Make sure you operate a gas powered unit outdoors to prevent fuel inhalation. Do not operate your pressure washer near any flammable materials such as paint thinners; an explosion can occur. In the event a gas leak occurs, do not touch any electrical switches and shut off the unit via the breaker switch. Leave the area and notify your gas supplier.

What operating safety tips should I be aware of when I use a pressure washer?

Operating Safety

Remember these guidelines to avoid physical injury when using your pressure washer:

• Wear protective face protection when operating a pressure washer whenever appropriate.
• Make sure the engine is off if you are filling the fuel tank.
• Before you turn on or operate the machine, make sure all hose connections are locked in place.
• Make sure to latch on the safety lock on the trigger of the gun valve if it is not being used.

I've heard using the wrong nozzle can result in damaging some surfaces. Is this true?

The Right Nozzle

Sometimes pressure washer safety tips don't include the importance of picking the right nozzle. Don't just use any nozzle with your pressure washer. If you want to keep the surfaces that you're cleaning in good shape, check to make sure that the nozzle you're using is appropriate for the job you're doing. Using a nozzle that concentrates too much pressure can damage some surfaces, like wood.

What precautions should I take when using a pressure washer to clean my house?

Stay Grounded

If you're cleaning your home with a pressure washer, it's always best to clean from the ground. Avoid climbing on ladders. Handling a pressure washer could make your footing unstable and lead to falls. For out of reach areas, use an extension like a spray arm to help you clean.

Is there a pressure washing chemical that is safe for use around people and equipment?

Use Biodegradable Pressure Washing Chemicals

With the number of pressure washing chemicals on the market, choosing a cleaner you can use safely around people and equipment can be difficult. Use a cleaning agent that is biodegradable and USDA approved, rather than a cheap substitute. These detergents carry no unpleasant odors, are safe for the environment, and are safe for users. What's even better, they don't harm the surfaces that you're cleaning.

How can I prevent accidents while using a pressure washer?

Preventative Measures

The best way to avoid accidents and injuries when operating a pressure washer is to pay attention pressure washer safety tips that employ preventative measures. To maintain safety, check out this list:

• Familiarize yourself with the operating manual prior to operating your pressure washer.
• Keep your pressure washer on a stable surface with adequate drainage to prevent slips.
• Keep your nozzle spray away from any electrical sources like power lines and electrical wires.
• Never leave your unit running unattended.

Do I need to worry about electrical hazards when operating a pressure washer?

Electrical Hazards

If you want to operate your pressure washer or pressure washer pumps to do outdoor work, it's extremely important to watch out for all electrical hazards that you could encounter--power lines, circuit boxes, telephone junction boxes and other outdoor fixtures. You may not necessarily be in personal danger, but using water pumps outdoors could potentially soak and severely damage this kind of outdoor electrical equipment. Don't make yourself liable by careless use of your water supply!

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Linda Handiak