Choosing your pressure washing equipment can be tough if you don’t have any idea of the different types of them available. If you don’t know where to start when choosing your pressure washing equipment, then there are chances that you may not pick the right equipment suitable for your cleaning needs – it is either you pick one that is inadequate, or you pick one that is overkill for your simple cleaning requirement. Every professional pressure washing operators are aware that the equipment is very valuable so as to have success in the pressure washing industry. This is simply because having a poor equipment will yield poor work as well as down time due to equipment maintenance which can cost a lot if you sum it all up in the long run. Finding or getting the equipment that suits both your budget and needs is always the key.
There is a huge range of pressure washing equipment offered from a multitude of retailers. Home Depot shops, hardware, and industrial supply houses offer a good number of options. This makes it rather difficult to know where to even start. The best way to address this is by asking yourself if you need one to make a living out of it, such as that of pressure washing companies. If this is so, then you need equipment that is not only reliable, but also one that is durable, capable of withstanding abuse and prolonged usage. The unit should also be easily serviceable should you need to make some minor repairs. Remember, pressure cleaning companies offer a professional cleaning job which means they also need professional cleaning equipment. However, if you need a unit simply for pressure washing your car and for home use, you will need just a light duty unit, more of an electric-powered pressure washing unit, as it is likely only going to be used occasionally.
Considering that you plan on opening up a pressure washing business, before you invest in a pressure washer unit, you need to decide on following: the types of surfaces you will be cleaning; what sector you will cater to – whether residential, commercial, or industrial; and the frequency of use. The truth is you don’t necessarily have to cater just one specific sector as the more diversified your pressure washing business is, the more revenue you will be able to make. Of course, the only two obstacles you need to endure at first would be the startup capital and the marketing struggle to attract clients. After surpassing those two, if everything works out, your pressure washing business will surely flourish. One factor you may want to consider when opening up a pressure washing business is transport – because you need to transport your equipment to the site that needs to be cleaned. A pickup truck is usually sufficient enough to travel most of the equipment you need, and a trailer should there be a need for several numbers of pressure washers and equipment to be used.
Pressure washing businesses require pressure washer units with a heavy duty construction. When it comes to pressure washer construction, the main difference between a professional-grade pressure washing unit with a consumer-grade one is the quality of the materials and components used in building the unit. Units that are made for use on commercial and industrial sectors are built with stainless and ceramic components. These components are definitely made for heavy duty use and can withstand long and continuous hours of daily operation. If you compare these components with the brass and plastic material from light-duty units, you’ll certainly understand and see the difference why light duty units and heavy duty units are worlds apart, not just in build quality, but also in pricing.
When starting a pressure washing business, either from scratch or simply adding more equipments, there is a basic list of equipment (sort of like a starter kit) that you will need to have. These basic list will include a 3,000 PSI hot water pressure washer, a 50 feet pressure hose, a pressure washer wand, a surface cleaner, a turbo nozzle, a 24-foot telescoping wand, a hose reel for easy pressure hose collection and transport, additional pressure hose of about 100 feet, Teflon tapes for sealing, degreasers, and other pressure washing chemicals relevant to the services you offer.
Aside from the basic equipment mentioned atop, your pressure washing equipment should also have the following attributes:
- Belt Drive – this cannot be emphasized enough because a belt drive helps to dampen the vibration caused by the motor and that it also dissipates the heat emanating from the motor. This helps to preserve the pressure pump from premature wear.
- Electric Start Engine – the main purpose of having an electric start engine is so that you won’t have a hard time starting the unit up as compared to when using a pull start motor.
- Separable Components – this includes the pressure pump, bypass lines, pressure regulator, inlet regulator, high limit switches, and pop-off valves. Separable components enables ease of maintenance and repair and allows you to replace or substitute with alternative components.
- Chemical Injector – this would include both downstream and upstream chemical injector so you can dispense cleaning chemicals and detergents when needed.
- Spray Gun and Wand with Interchangeable Nozzles – this will allow you to choose the type of pressure nozzle more suitable for the current cleaning task.
- High Pressure Nozzles – since these are interchangeable according to cleaning task, it is recommended to have pressure nozzles that are lined with stainless steel or carbide for durability and withstand prolonged usage.
- Heaters – heating is performed after pressurization at the pump. The heater should be able to heat the pressurized water up to 200°F inside its heating coils before it exits the nozzles.
- The internal components of the unit should also be made of ceramic and stainless steel so that it is able to withstand abuse and prolonged usage. The use of such materials makes the unit more robust and durable. For pressure washing business, a heavy-duty unit is highly recommended and that light-duty units are not even worth considering.
to be continued on Choosing Your Pressure Washing Equipment for Business – Where to Start part 2
Everybody knows that pressure washers are great cleaning equipments that can enable any person to clean effectively, efficiently, and in less time when compared to manual cleaning. The reason behind the effectiveness of pressure washers when it comes to cleaning surfaces is its highly pressurized stream of water that bombards dirt and stains and basically flushes them off their bond or adhesion to remove them. Despite being very effective in cleaning, you can still make pressure washers more effective through the use of pressure washer accessories. These accessories can modify the highly pressurized stream of water to suit certain cleaning situations, or dispense cleaning chemicals that can help hasten the cleaning process.
Among the pressure washer accessories that you should have in your collection of accessories is the “downstream injector.” Downstream injectors are basically accessories that enable you to dispense soap, detergent, and cleaning solutions. This can be very useful as pressure washing operators are quickly able to apply cleaning solutions onto surfaces thanks to the cleaning unit itself. Imagine yourself trying to apply soap manually on a large and long wall or pavement. It would take a lot of your time, wouldn’t it? This is perhaps the main value of downstream injectors because you are able to dispense cleaning solutions without taking much of your time.
If you use your pressure washing unit on other residential cleaning tasks aside from just cleaning your car, then you are likely to know that there are many cleaning solutions that needs to be applied using the downstream injector. This is because a lot of these cleaning solutions are very corrosive and can damage the pressure pump and other components if you include the solution on the water that feeds the cleaning unit. Since the downstream injector introduces the cleaning solution after the water has been pressurized, it does no damage to any of the internal parts of the pressure washer unit. The solution is introduced to the pressurized stream of water through the principles of hydrodynamics.
One other feature of downstream injectors, unlike of the upstream injectors, is that the pump doesn’t have to work hard to draw the solution in and pressurize it. This means the pressure pump undergoes less stress when using downstream injectors to dispense detergents and chemicals, and cleaning solutions. Simply put, the reduction of wear through its use makes the pump last longer than when using the upstream injector type.
The ideal location in installing the downstream injector is the connection between the pressure pump and the pressure hose. Place some quick-connect couplers on both ends and connect it to both the pressure hose and pressure pump. Using quick-connect couplers will allow you to quickly attach the downstream injector should you need to dispense cleaning solutions. However, if you are using a hot water pressure washer, then it is more advisable to connect the chemical injector where the heated water exits the unit. The reason behind this is to prevent any of the internal parts and components of the pressure washer unit from the harshness of the cleaning solutions.
As mentioned earlier, a downstream injector works through the principles of hydrodynamics called the Venturi effect. As pressurized water passes by the constricted orifice of the chemical injector, the high velocity of the pressurized water that passes creates a vacuum and thus draws the solution to mix along with the pressurized water. However, in order for the injector to work properly, the use of a low pressure nozzle is recommended.
There are basically three things that cause the injector to stop from working. The first would be the use of high pressure nozzles. Since this is the case, you can use low pressure nozzles when dispensing the cleaning solution and change the nozzle to high pressure ones to pressure wash without having to detach the injector. There are many who find this convenient because you don’t need to go back to the unit to turn the dispenser off should you need to pressure wash. The second would be the use of long pressure hoses. Since a long pressure hose creates more resistance due to the distance the pressurized water has to travel, it creates a back pressure wherein there is less draw from the chemicals. In fact, at a distance of 150 feet, the draw of chemical will cease. The third would be gravity. If the pressure nozzle gets much higher than the downstream injector, gravity will create an increase in back pressure wherein the stream will have trouble drawing in chemical. The amount of elevation that this usually happens is at 10 feet and higher.
To Rent or Buy a Pressure Washer
When faced with a troublesome cleaning task, pressure washers are often the only solution to cleaning them much faster, more efficient, and in far less time. However, if you don’t have your own pressure washer, you have the choice of buying your very own unit, or simply renting one out.
These days, residential grade pressure washers are rather inexpensive which can be good if you are opting to buy a unit for yourself. They can be used for practically every day cleaning tasks found in the home, such as: cleaning cars, deck, patio, pavement, fence, walls, walkways, driveway, garage, gutters, lawnmower equipments, and many more. Then again, if the cleaning task you’re up to requires heavy duty cleaning, particularly dirt and filth that are oil-based, then you may need a pressure washer with hot water temperature capability to be able to effectively clean such. Sadly, the price of these units can be fairly expensive which means renting one out is a better option as it is simply more economical.
If you’ve decided to rent a unit, be sure to check for prices before you rent as there are times the rental cost is near enough to the actual price of the unit. This means it would simply be smarter to buy one instead. If all you require is a one-time use only, buying a unit can still be an option as you can opt to sell after the job is done.
If you have a pressure washer and value your cleaning equipment, it is essential that you practice pressure washer preventive maintenance to help make it work efficiently each time you use it as well as make it last longer. In fact, such preventive maintenance shouldn’t just be done with the unit itself, but it should be done with the accessories as well, and all of this should be done prior to each use and after use. You can refer to your unit’s operation manual on maintenance specific to your unit’s make and model.
- Check the Oil and Fuel Level – checking the oil level before use can help prevent premature breakdown due low oil level. If the oil level is low, make sure to refill it using the recommended type of oil. If your unit is gas-powered and the fuel level is low, make sure to refill it while the unit is turned off to ensure that you are not left hanging should it run out of fuel while you are pressure washing.
- Check Screen Filters – check both water inlet screen and the in-line screen for dirt or sediments and flush them off with water. If the screen filters are damaged, replace them with new ones along with their corresponding rubber washer or o-ring.
- Check for Leaks – if there are leaks, identify where the leaks are coming from. If the leak is coming from cracked or cut hoses, replace the hose when necessary or remedy the problem by removing the cut or leaking part and install the necessary hose attachment to the remaining hose. If the pressure hose is the one with leaks and cuts, replace immediately with a new hose that has a higher pressure rating than your pressure washer unit. If the couplings are the one with leaks, tighten them to make sure they are securely placed. If the leaks persist, replace the necessary rubber washers or o-rings.
- Safety Check – before turning the unit on, check the trigger of the gun, depress it several times to ensure that it springs back to its usual off position. If the trigger does not recoil back, consider replacing the gun.
- Clean the Unit – after each use, make sure to clean the unit and all the accessories that you have used. If you used a chemical injector, make sure to run clean water into the system for around two minutes before turning off the unit. Turn off the tap and allow the unit to cool down for a few minutes.
- Relieve the Pressure inside the System – this can be done by depressing the trigger of the gun until all the water remaining inside the unit has been expelled. You can then detach the water hose and the high pressure hose from the pump. Detach the spray gun from the pressure hose and clean with running water.
Spray Wand Maintenance
The spray wand is an important pressure washer accessory which is why you need to take good care of it to ensure that it lasts a long time. Before using the spray wand, always test the gun first to ensure that it is working properly. This can be done by depressing the trigger and releasing it several times. If the trigger springs back into its original position, then the trigger is perfectly fine. However, if it does not spring back, the gun will need to be replaced to avoid any accidents or inconveniences. In addition, if water is leaking around the gun handle and near the trigger, replace the spray gun immediately.
When performing maintenance on the spray gun and wand, make sure that both the unit and the water supply are turned off. Depress the gun to relieve the system of any pressure. Detach the wand from the gun as well as the spray tip. If you find any debris or foreign material that is clogging the accessory, particularly the spray tip, use a paper clip to free the debris from its attachment. Flush the wand, gun, and nozzle with running water to further remove any other debris that may be restricting the spray. If your nozzle is an adjustable type, put it into low pressure setting when flushing. Reconnect the accessory together and attach it back to the unit and test if it works properly.
Pressure Pump Maintenance
Apart from scheduled oil changes and making sure that no contaminants enter the pressure pump, the pressure pump hardly requires any maintenance. In fact, there are even pressure pumps that do not require any oil changes. However, those that do require oil changes must be done every year or after every 50 hours of use, whichever comes first.
It is very important to keep the pressure pump free from any contaminants. Then again, you cannot always ensure that the screens will be able to filter everything. If there are contaminants inside the pump, the best solution would be to purge the pump from it. To do this, use the unit as you normally would, but this time, remove the wand from the spray gun. Depress the trigger until a steady stream of water comes out. Hold this for about two minutes, then turn off the unit and reattach the wand to the spray gun.
When changing the oil of the pressure pump, make sure to drain the old oil by removing the oil cap, then tilt the unit and drain it into a container. Once the pump has been emptied of its old oil, allow it to sit in its usual position. Using a funnel, refill the pressure pump with manufacturer-approved new pressure pump oil. Reinstall the oil cap and make sure it is tight and secure. Wipe off any excess oil and clean off any oil that has been spilled on the floor.
Note: When refilling the pressure pump with oil, make sure to follow the directions found in the owner’s manual of your unit. Also, make sure that you do not put too much or too little oil in the reservoir. Certain pressure pump models have premeasured oil bottles so operators don’t need to guess the amount.
Finding the right pressure washer accessories for your cleaning task is actually very important. This is because with the use of the right accessories, not only will you be able to finish your cleaning task much faster, but you will also be able to accomplish it more efficiently. Using the wrong nozzle on your cleaning task may set you off a few hours as compared to using the right one. In fact, you may even create an undesirable effect should you use a more concentrated stream of water on delicate materials or surfaces as too much pressure can be damaging to some surfaces. On the other hand, if you use a nozzle that has a widely dispersed fan spray, you may not be able to clean hardened caked mud as fast as using a more concentrated stream.
There are quite a number of pressure washer accessories to choose from and each of them performs slightly different from each other. There are actually other pressure washer accessories aside from tips and nozzles and some of them would likely be the safety accessories that you will be using.
When pressure washing, it is essential that you wear safety accessories and this would include safety goggles and safety gloves. The wearing of safety goggles is essential for any cleaning project as this helps to protect your eyes from stray water as well as from debris that may ricochet due to the extreme pressure. If you don’t wear safety glasses, the water that stray into your eyes may distract you and may allow you to point the highly pressurized stream of water on someone or some surface your shouldn’t, or the debris that may ricochet can potentially blind you. Safety gloves are also essential because they can protect your hands from the debris that bounces back from the pressure that hits them.
Another safety accessory, although not as important as the first two, will be the safety boots. The safety boots will provide you with the grip you need so that you will not slip from the water that may have gathered on the floor underneath your feet.
All three safety accessories can be purchased on hardware and home depot stores. When buying safety glasses though, you may want to invest in sturdy ones that can withstand high speed impacts from ricochets with hardly any problems. For safety gloves, you may want to buy ones that are thick and water resistant. For safety boots, make sure they have enough height and grip so you would not easily slip.
Nozzles are very important pressure washer accessories as they help to control the flow of water. There are in fact a lot of aftermarket nozzles available that can greatly help to make cleaning jobs much faster.
Rotating Brush – when cleaning cars, boats, or any vehicle, the rotating brush is usually the best choice. This is because the water brush accessory helps limit the intensity of the water pressure which can potentially damage the surface of your vehicle. In addition, since the head of the rotating brush spins because of the pressure, it performs a scrubbing action which is helpful in removing dirt off the surface of the vehicle.
Water Broom – this is a nozzle accessory that acts like a real broom as it is meant for cleaning flat floor surfaces. The main stream of the pressure washer is divided into several smaller streams that create the impression of a broom but with bristles made of water. Water brooms are perfect for cleaning parking areas, tennis courts, basketball courts, driveways, ramps, and floor areas.
Gutter Cleaners – this is a simple hooked nozzle which attaches at the end of the wand that enables the operator to direct the highly pressurized stream of water inside the gutter to push away the dirt and debris that may have clogged inside the gutter. This alleviates the dangerous task of having to go up to the level of the roof to manually clean and remove the debris by hand.
Whirl-a-Ways – these are also called flat surfaces cleaners as they are perfect for cleaning, well, flat surfaces. The nozzle accessory comes in the shape of a disc with a spinning arm with nozzles at the bottom. It is able to cover more area in one sweep as compared to a water broom.
Dirt Blaster – often called a rotary or a turbo nozzle for its spinning motion when in action. They are practically the best nozzles you can have in your accessory as the rotating motion of the highly pressurized stream of water acts as a brush helping to scrub off the toughened dirt on surfaces. The rotary action it creates is generated by the water pressure trying to push out of the nozzle.
Aside from nozzles, there are other pressure washer accessories that are highly useful.
Pressure Hose – the short pressure hose that came with your unit usually limits your cleaning progress as you need to move the unit each time when cleaning large areas. However, if you have say, a 50-foot pressure hose, you will have a wider reach without enabling you to clean continuously without having to move the unit itself. On the other hand, when investing in a pressure hose, make sure it is of high quality as poor quality pressure hoses will wear much faster, susceptible to leaks, and are less flexible making it more difficult to work with.
Telescoping Wand – if you need to reach elevated height, then you need to invest in a telescoping wand as it is able to extend up to 24 feet, allowing you to reach even the three-storey walls. Instead of using ladders and flimsy scaffolds, most experts recommend that you use a telescoping wand for cleaning elevated areas such as gutters. This makes the telescoping wand the perfect match for the gutter cleaner.
Ball Valve – this is basically a shut off valve that you place at the end of your pressure hose. This accessory is helpful as it allows you to shut off the pressure when replacing accessories without having to go near the unit to turn it off.
The cleaning power of pressure washers has made them popular not just with the commercial and industrial sectors, but with residential as well. Thanks to this cleaning power, cleaning becomes more efficient and takes significantly less time to accomplish. If you’ve managed to use a pressure washer before in cleaning hard to remove dirt, mud, and stains, then highly likely, you wouldn’t want to clean such without a pressure washer again.
The truth is, many pressure washer owners lover their units and find them indispensable. This should not be surprising as a pressure washer greatly assists them from having to do tedious and backbreaking work from having to clean near-impossible cleaning tasks. The best part about it all is that using a pressure washer even saves you money as you will be using less water for the job. This makes them truly a remarkable piece of equipment.
The trouble with pressure washer is that they are very sensitive as any type of obstruction in the water’s path or air inside the system can immensely decrease the unit’s performance and possibly even damage certain parts. Knowing how pressure washers work will give you a better understanding on how to diagnose some pressure washer problems.
1. Water goes inside the pressure washer unit through the inlet valve.
- A lot of residential units have a garden hose attached to the inlet valve to serve as its water supply.
- Any air trapped in the pressure pump can cause a certain degree of damage to it. To avoid this, make sure that all inlet connections are fitted properly to prevent any air from entering the system.
- Also, it is important that you turn on the tap accordingly so the unit receives the right amount of water as per its GPM rating. Consult your user’s manual regarding this detail.
2. Water is filtered by the intake filter or screen.
- The main reason why water needs to be filtered is to prevent any dirt and debris from entering the pressure pump as any type of debris (even air) trapped inside the pressure pump can damage parts as well as decrease performance.
- Most intake filters are simply made out of screen. However, there are other complicated types of filtering system that provides the best type of dirt and debris filtering.
- When buying the best type of filter, make sure that it is specified for your specific type of pressure washer. Doing this will ensure that you get the right one for your unit.
3. Water then passes through the regulator valve
- The main purpose of the regulator valve is to control the flow of water going inside the pressure pump. Regulator valves are calibrated according to your pressure pump.
4. Water goes inside the pressure pump.
- Pressure pumps are greatly engineered products that are perfectly sealed and well lubricated to create the maximum amount of water pressure they can generate
- Pressure pumps generate pressure when their crankcase is spun by a motor – in a pressure washer’s case, either a gas engine or an electric motor.
- Pressure pumps are connected to the motor either through a belt drive or a direct drive.
- Pressure pumps come in different designs. e.g., positive displacement reciprocating plunger type and piston type.
- Most of the times, pressure washer problems are not caused by the pump or pump related.
5. Pressurized water leaves the pump as the pressure washer gun is depressed. The water then exits via the outlet valve and through the outlet pressure washer hose.
6. From the pressure washer hose, the water will then pass through the pressure washer gun, pressure washer wand, and out of the pressure washer nozzle.
- Most problems occur in the gun or in the nozzle. Fortunately, these parts are easily replaceable.
7. If the pressure gun is not depressed, the pressurized water inside the pump is not exiting the system and should be regulated. Otherwise, there will be a massive buildup of pressure inside. This makes the unloader valve a very important component of every pressure washer.
- The main function of the unloader valve is to redirect water when it is not exiting the system. This helps to prevent the buildup of pressure inside the pressure pump.
- As the unloader valve redirects the pressurized water, it recycles it through the pressure pump again.
- The unloader valve has a spring and needs to be calibrated properly by a professional. This spring controls how much pressure the unit may build up in the pump before it attempts to redirect the water. If it is not properly adjusted, it will result in either low pressure or too high pressure.
Overall, this is basically how a pressure washer works. Understanding it is pretty easy enough and knowing how it works will give you an idea on how to diagnose your pressure washer.
Pressure Washer Maintenance
If you love your pressure washer unit and find it to be very useful, it is only proper that you maintain it properly so as to prevent any performance issues. Many of the parts in a pressure washer are not exactly designed to last the units life span. In fact, even tougher components will need some replacing over time. Fortunately, many of these parts are easy to replace and require only a little knowhow to replace them.
There is no doubt that the performance of a pressure washer will deteriorate in due time. However, if you take your time in giving your unit extra maintenance work, many of the problems that are likely to occur will be caught or even prevented. The list below shows how to keep your unit in tiptop condition.
- Familiarize yourself with the parts and proper operation of your unit.
- Lubricate parts that need to be lubricated.
- Change the pump oil regularly. For gas models, change oil and oil filter regularly.
- Inspect the unit for leaks before and after each use. This would involve checking connections, fittings, o-rings, nozzles, and pressure guns.
- During operation, make sure to keep the water flowing out of the nozzle. Turn the unit off if it will be left idle for more than 2 minutes. Keeping it idle while running will stress and wear down the unloader valve.
- Flush the unit with clean water after each use.