Pressure washer buying guide
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Why waste time and effort washing away hardened dirt and grime when you can use a pressure washer to get the job done quickly and easily? These brilliant tools shoot a powerful jet of water that makes them ideal for cleaning everything from filthy cars to dirty patios. They are also incredibly efficient when compared to a regular garden hose – they can use as little as 400 litres of water an hour and still give you 100 bar pressure, while a standard hosepipe would use around 3500 litres but only manage 4 bar. If you’re thinking about buying a pressure washer, our handy guide will help you find the right one to suit all your needs.
Types of pressure washer
Electric pressure washers
Electric pressure washers are perfect if you just want something that will deal easily with average jobs around the home and garden. They run off mains electricity, are quiet and easy to use, and affordable to buy.
Petrol pressure washers
Petrol powered pressure washers are a lot more powerful than electric ones and more expensive to buy, making them more appropriate for heavy duty uses. However, as they’re powered by fuel rather than connected to mains electricity they don’t have any trailing cables meaning you’re free to take them anywhere.
Which one is right for you?
Firstly you will need to have an idea of what specification of machine you want/need. This will depend on how often you intend to use your machine, how large your cleaning tasks are and how quickly you want to get the job done. Essentially, the more pressure and water flow the pressure washer can provide (it is these two factors that produce the cleaning performance), the faster you will be able to clean outdoor spaces. This is due to the fact that the working cleaning width is wider when using machines with higher specifications. Generally speaking, higher spec machines are more durable and accordingly will come with longer guarantees.
The biggest machine with the greatest cleaning performance might not suit your requirements, especially, for example, if you only have small outdoor area or only need the pressure washer for one specific task. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your pressure washer:
• A washer with adjustable pressure settings will give you much more flexibility over the sort of jobs you can use it for.
• If space is an issue, look for models that take up less room, and those with built-in storage to keep cables and hoses safely tucked away.
• More powerful pressure washers are heavier, so look for models with wheels and a handle to help you move it around.
• Some models come with additional features like on board hose reels, longer hose lengths and on-board detergent tanks which can make your task a lot easier.
Using your pressure washer
Pressure washers are connected to either a mains water supply or a static water source like a water butt or bucket. If you’re connecting your washer to a static water source, you’ll want to use a filter to prevent any sediment getting into the machine, and don’t let the water completely run out as this could damage the motor.
To attach your pressure washer to the mains water supply, you will need a garden tap adaptor, an aqua stop connector to attach the hose to the tap, a garden hose (minimum 7.5m in length and ½ inch in width) and a free flow connector to attach the hose to the machine. To attach your pressure washer to a static source, you may need to purchase a separate suction hose.
Machines with higher pressure will often provide the fastest and deepest clean, it is therefore important to ensure you have variable pressure adjustment to clean the most sensitive surfaces. This quick guide will give you an idea of the sort of pressure you’ll need for some of the most common tasks.
Light pressure – 100 bar
- Woodwork - Soft decking, garden furniture, fencing etc
Medium pressure – 110 bar
- Vehicles - Cars, vans and bicycles
- Paintwork - Exterior paintwork, swimming pools etc
- Plastic - Garden furniture, guttering etc
- Small areas - Patios, decking etc
High pressure – 120 bar & above
- Patios, paths and driveways
- Brick and stonework
- Large patios or decking
Pressure washer accessories
There’s a range of accessories available to help you get the most out of your pressure washer. It's worth considering whether you can get accessories in a bundle when you buy a pressure washer as this can work out to be more cost effective. Before purchasing, it's important to understand what accessories would be the most helpful with the various tasks you want to use your pressure washer for.
Most washers come with a basic lance that’s suitable for most jobs, but other lances are available for more specific jobs, such as dealing with different surfaces.
Use a detergent to help you shift even the toughest muck and grime. Various detergents can be bought which have specific formulae to suit the surface you are cleaning. These not only help penetrate the dirt but can also protect and maintain your outdoor areas going forwards.
Patio cleaners are incredibly helpful when cleaning flat surfaces like patios or decking. The rotating nozzles cover a larger surface than a lance alone, providing a faster clean than just using a lance. As the cleaner hovers over the surface, you also benefit from a more even clean than using a standard lance.
Foam nozzles are a great way to apply detergent. The detergent is applied to the surface as a thick foam which will cling to surfaces allowing more time for the formulae to work. This is particularly useful when cleaning vertical surfaces like cars.
Brushes that attach to the pressure washer guns are essential items when tackling stubborn dirt on sensitive surfaces like vehicles and woodwork.
If you’re working away from the water supply tap you might need a heavy duty professional hose that adds length to your water supply hose. These come with all the connectors you need to quickly and easily hook them up to your tap and pressure washer.
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