What Is A Pressure Washer?

What is a Pressure Washer?
What is a Pressure Washer?

Pressure washers are powerful machines used to clean residential, commercial, and industrial spaces. They are specialized tools used by pressure washing professionals to clean more effectively than most other cleaning techniques can. 

On the surface, a pressure washer is a device that takes cool water from a hose and pressurizes it to up to 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, or even 4,000 PSI. Once the water is pressurized, it’s directed out of a specialized nozzle as an intense stream that’s used to clean concrete, vinyl, wood, pavement, stone, and many other surfaces. 

Does A Pressure Washer Just Use Water?

A pressure washer can run on just water and clean effectively, but pressure washers can use a cleaning detergent as well. Professionals often switch between applying a stream of detergent and water and then blasting with a high-pressure stream of just water when cleaning a structure. 

What Is A Pressure Washer Used For?

Pressure washers are used to clean stone, concrete, wood, vinyl, metal, and other surfaces. These washers apply a stream of water using different specialized nozzles to create just the right amount of cleaning force for whatever surface you’re attempting to clean. 

Understanding Gas And Electric Pressure Washers

There are two different types of pressure washers, gas and electric. Gas pressure washers operate using a gas-powered motor that drives the water pump to create the high-pressure stream of water you use to clean with. Gas washers are more powerful and can deliver pressure as high as 4,000 PSI for extended operating periods. 

Electric pressure washers use an electric-powered pump to pressurize water, and they often deliver between 1,500 and 2,500 PSI of pressure. The higher-pressure electric pumps often shoot out a smaller stream of water than gas-pressure washers. Electric pressure washers are meant for light-duty or mid-duty cleaning tasks, while gas units can handle heavy-duty cleaning in commercial and industrial environments as well as basic residential cleaning tasks. 

Know The Types Of Pressure Washer Pumps

There are four pressure washer pump types you should know about. Wobble, axial, triplex, and belt drive. Only the last two pumps should be selected when investing in a high-quality pressure washer. 

Wobble – These basic pumps are normally on electric pressure washers that produce less than 2,500 PSI. They aren’t user-replaceable and are only expected to last between 100 and 200 hours, or about 2-3 years for a light-use homeowner.  

Axial – An axial pump is made from thicker aluminum or even cast iron and is designed to deliver upwards of 2,500 PSI. These mid-range pumps will last about 1,000 hours on average and are user-replaceable when they fail. 

Triplex – A triplex plunger pump is the most powerful option and is used on all commercial-grade pressure washers. This pump is made to last for thousands of hours and requires minimal maintenance. Triplex pumps can be replaced when they do eventually fail, preserving the rest of the machine. 

Belt-Drive Pump – A belt-drive pressure washer pump is an alternative commercial pump option that’s known for lower vibration and a longer lifespan than the triplex pump. This is the most costly solution, but it is an upgrade worth considering if you’re a heavy user that goes through triplex pumps regularly. 

What Kind Of Pressure Washer To Use

If you’re looking to purchase a pressure washer, you should know which type you need for your specific cleaning requirements. For light-duty cleaning of lawn furniture, washing your car, and rinsing off your siding annually, you could get the job done with a low-powered electric pressure washer that delivers up to 2,000 PSI of pressure, but you can only rely on your purchase to last a few years before you need another. If you’ll be tackling serious pressure-washing jobs, you’ll need a more capable tool that we’ll outline below, and you’ll spend considerably more money on your equipment. 

What Type Of Pressure Washer Do I Need?

For serious pressure washing tasks, you should invest in a mid-grade to a high-grade gas-powered pressure washer. The unit you get should have an axial water pump, a triplex pump, or a belt-driven pump installed. Avoid units with a wobble pump, because they must be fully replaced often. 

After you find a product with a good sturdy pump, choose a unit that delivers at least 3,000 PSI of washing power. Look at the product’s total GPM rate and try to select a unit that delivers at least 3.0 GPM of flow rate to get something that will clean effectively. 

Finally, choose a unit that’s made by a reputable company and equipped with an engine that’s easy to service and known to last. You could opt for a Karcher pressure washer or a Home Depot pressure washer and obtain a well-made unit that will work for you. You can also find a pressure washer on Amazon that’s made well, but you should expect to spend more than $1,000 for a product that’s going to work for most use cases and last for many years. 

What PSI Is Best For A Pressure Washer?

While you can tackle light-duty cleaning tasks with a low-powered pressure washer that delivers 1,200 to 1,500 PSI of cleaning power, you should avoid these units. Instead, get a product that offers a minimum of 3,000 PSI. It will clean concrete, masonry, driveways, and all other surfaces well. Not only do these powerful units clean well, but they are made from more durable materials too. When you invest in a high-grade pressure washer, you get a product with a replaceable water pump and durable construction. 

Should You Use A Detergent While Pressure Washing?

Many people who are new to pressure washing wonder if they need chemicals to pressure wash effectively. The answer is yes and no. If you have heavy staining, mold, grease, and other substances built up, you can clean them away more effectively by spraying on detergent when you begin cleaning. A good detergent breaks down contaminants, so you can clean them more efficiently. 

How To Use A Pressure Washer With Detergent

To use your pressure washer with detergent, you must install a detergent injector between your water supply and your pressure washer inlet connection. Fasten the injector in position and connect a clear supply hose from the injector to your bottle of approved pressure washer detergent. Once the unit begins to run, the detergent will automatically feed into your water stream. Apply the detergent at the lowest level and work your way up for an even coating. 

What Is The Difference Between A Power Washer And A Pressure Washer?

One of the pressure washing secrets that many people don’t know is that pressure washing and power washing are two different cleaning activities. Pressure washing is cleaning with a powerful stream of cool to warm water, while power washing is cleaning with a powerful stream of very hot water. 

A power washer makes use of a heating element to heat the water to an almost boiling level for a hot clean. Pressure washing relies on the power of the water stream to clean rather than its temperature. 

Types Of Pressure Washing Services

There are many different types of pressure washing services that you can get to clean different areas of your home and business. Most professional pressure washing providers offer some or all of the following services.

  • Home Exterior Soft Washing – Washing siding at lower pressures to avoid damaging it. 
  • Deck Washing – Cleaning wooden or vinyl decking. 
  • Roof Cleaning – Fully cleaning roof material such as metal roofing or shingles. 
  • Exterior Window Cleaning – Washing exterior windows fully. 
  • Driveway Cleaning – Cleaning concrete or asphalt driveways using a surface cleaner. 
  • Porch and Walkway Cleaning – Fully clean concrete and paver porch and patios. 
  • Gutter Cleanouts – Pressure washing debris out of a gutter fully. 

The best pressure washing companies offer the services you need at reasonable prices, they come insured, and they utilize high-grade equipment to clean with. If a company doesn’t meet all of these requirements, you should find another that does. 

How S&K Building Services Stands Out

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How much do pressure washers make per hour?

Residential pressure washing professionals earn $60 to $120 per hour, and commercial washers can get $250 to $500 per hour for a team. 

How much should you charge for pressure washing per square foot?

A professional pressure washer should charge between $0.25 and $1.00 per square foot. 

How much does pressure washing cost per square foot?

Pressure washing companies charge between $0.25 and $1.00 per square foot for most residential cleaning tasks and $0.40 to $1.20 for commercial pressure washing jobs. 

Does pressure washing make a lot of money?

Yes, pressure washing can make a lot of money when done professionally with the right equipment and the proper settings. 

How much do pressure washers make a day?

While it’s difficult to estimate how much pressure washers make a day, most earn somewhere between $120 and $500 per day, depending on their location and whether they own their business or not. 

Is pressure washing in high demand?

Pressure washing is in high demand, and most pressure washing professionals have many commercial and residential clients. 

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