A pressure washer is basically a mechanical device that utilizes highly pressurized water in order to remove dust, dirt, mold, and grime off of the surfaces of homes, buildings, vehicles, trucks, heavy equipment, concrete, and other types of surfaces. This highly pressurized water is so effective that it can shave off your cleaning time significantly while being able to do a much better job than manual cleaning.
There are many types of pressure washing equipment and many vary in the amount of pressure level they can generate. This can be as low as 1,000 PSI to as high as 5,000 PSI or even higher. If you want to use a pressure washer for certain cleaning jobs, you can either buy your own unit, or you can rent one.
A pressure washer has basically 4 main components – the motor, the pump, the high pressure hose, and the trigger gun. The equipment works like your ordinary garden hose, only more powerful as the speed of the flow is accelerated multiple times. Since many pressure washers are plugged using the regular tap, it means that the pressure washer unit cannot draw out more water from the tap it is connected to, so it uses basically how much the source can provide. If you have a unit that has a higher GPM rating, you need to have an adequate supply of water for that unit, otherwise, the unit will be deprived of the necessary water and this can cause premature breakdown with expensive repair cost.
One of the best things about pressure washer is the availability of different types of nozzles and attachments so you can customize the highly pressurized stream of water according to your liking or according to the cleaning task you have at hand. For example, if you need to clean tough dirt and stains, you need to use nozzles with more narrow sprays because the spray is denser and concentrated making it more powerful in cleaning. However, if you need to rinse off a large surface, you can use the much wider fan spray nozzles to disperse the spray making it easier to rinse the surface. There are also chemical injectors available which help to dispense any detergent or chemical solution that you may need to use when pressure washing.
Since pressure washers use an electric motor or a gas combustion engine to power the pressure pump, they are considered as power tools which make it necessary to practice safety when operating these cleaning equipments. In fact, even a lowly 1,000 PSI pressure washer unit along with the right nozzle attachment is powerful enough to cause physical injury. In addition, if you accidentally pressure wash loose objects, they may get propelled and ricochet towards you at great velocity, inevitably causing you minor to serious injury. This is the very reason why operators should always wear safety gears and equipment when operating pressure washers.
In order to generate pressure, the pressure pump must be spun at very rapid rates. This is the job of either an electric motor or a gas combustion engine. These two types of power source for the pressure pump carries with them their own advantage as well as significant disadvantages. The most notable disadvantage of an electric-powered pressure washer is that its operation is limited towards the nearness of an electrical outlet. On the other hand, the most notable disadvantage of a gas-powered pressure washer is that it cannot be used on indoor cleaning applications. This is because the gas combustion engine emits fumes which can be toxic if breathed in for prolonged periods, particularly on poorly ventilated spaces.
Advantages of electric-powered units are: the unit is less noisy to operate; the unit requires less maintenance; the absence of a gas tank makes the unit more light and compact; and the capability of being used on indoor locations without any worries of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Advantages of gas-powered units are: size of size, gas units are able to generate more power than electric models; gas units can be used or operated even on remote locations as its power source, as long as it has gas, is self-sustaining; and the robustness of the unit with the inclination towards a more medium to heavy duty use of its components.
As mentioned earlier, the pressure pump is powered either by an electric motor or a gas engine. The power that these two generate can be transferred towards the pressure pump in two ways – either by direct drive or via belt drive. The belt drive operates through a pulley system and this pulley (or fan belt) connects both the motor and the pump. The advantage of using this kind of drive system is that the pump is not directly connected to the motor which means that the pump is not susceptible to the vibration and heat generated by the motor. The pulleys in fact even acts as shock absorbers to protect the pump from any premature wear. The disadvantage however is that the efficiency is reduced due to the lost of energy from the use of belts and pulleys. The direct drive system on the other hand connects the motor directly to the pump via a drive shaft. Since this system has lesser moving parts, manufacturers are able to create more compact designs and models. The disadvantage of a direct drive system is that the direct connection means that the pump is susceptible to the vibration and heat generated by the motor making it wear down much faster than in a belt drive configuration.
In extreme form, very highly pressurized water can be used to cut wood, metal, and concrete. This is the norm lately, particularly when high tolerance parts are required. The best thing about using very high water pressure when cutting such materials is that the material is not prone to warping due to heat and that there is less dust generated during the water jet cutting process. Such types of cutting method are widely used in the custom bike and automobile industry wherein they are able to create a wide assortment of designs and custom logos from the use of water jet cutting technology.