Theoretically, pressure washers are pretty straightforward tools. They pump water at high pressure, and that helps you get many things done, right?
But there’s a lot more to pressure washers in terms of features and design differences. The two things can completely change how a unit works, what you can do with it, or how you’re supposed to use it.
That’s why it’s very important to understand what you’re buying and whether it will suit your needs.
So here are the things you should consider when you’re shopping for a pressure washer.
Home, Semi-Pro, or Pro?
Pressure washers are created with different levels of work in mind.
Light-Duty (Home or Semi-Pro)
Light-duty washers suit small jobs around a house. Typically they have a rating between 1300 to 1900 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) at 2 GPM (Gallons per Minute).
They’re usually compact and lightweight to suit cleaning things such as patio furniture, grills, small decks, patios, and vehicles.
Medium-Duty (Semi-Pro or Pro)
These are usually gas-powered and generate anywhere between 2000 to 2800 PSI at 2 to 3 GPM.
They suit jobs around the house or a shop. Medium-duty washers are usually made from premium components, are sturdier, and more powerful.
You can use them to clean fences, driveways, walkways, and exterior siding.
Heavy-duty or extra-heavy-duty washers are the ideal choice for commercial uses.
Made from professional-grade components, they’re capable of producing 2800 PSI and higher at 3 to 4 GPM.
They’re gas-powered to be more durable and finish tough jobs such as paint stripping, removing graffiti, and washing a two-story home.
You can get a multi-duty pressure washer which serves as an all-in-one unit by allowing you to control the machine’s pressure and water flow.
Cold vs. Hot Water
Cold Water Pressure Washers
Coldwater washers are more common for DIY use. They cost less and serve well for cleaning cars, removing accumulated dirt, mildew, and loose paint.
Hot Water Pressure Washers
Hot water washers are perfect for industrial or farm use. They are more expensive and a little more complicated to operate. However, they do a better job at cleaning as they’re more effective and faster. Also, they use less soap or cleaning chemicals than cold water washers do.
Terms You Should Be Familiar With
Axial Cam Pumps
These are found on home-use washers. They ensure smooth operation without the hassle of maintenance.
For frequent heavy-duty use, a triplex pump is needed.
These extend the longevity of the unit and enable it to perform with higher efficiency.
Interchangeable Nozzle Tips
Difference accessories help you reach the exact pressure and flow your job requires.
High-pressure tips spray narrowly and provide more cleaning power while low-pressure ones cover more area and allow you to apply a cleaning detergent.
Instead of changing the nozzle tip, you can change the pressure and spray pattern using an adjustable wand instead.
You can also change the wand to adjust water pressure and flow instead of changing the nozzle.
Rotating nozzles provide you with a powerful, circular-motion spray.
Chemical or Detergent Injection and Tanks
You can make your chemicals more convenient using injections –pressure washers that come with an onboard tank.
These help you reduce heat buildup and pressure to prevent any damage from affecting your pressure washer.
PSI and GPM
PSI and GPM are abbreviations for “Pounds per Square Inch” and “Gallons per Minute” respectively.
They are both crucial elements of a pressure washer. PSI refers to the raw power of the washer, while GPM refers to the amount of water required to support that certain pressure.
You don’t have to worry about the calculations and just follow a simple rule: the bigger the number, the more powerful the pressure washer is.
But there’s no need to get the highest PSI and GPM as the higher the numbers are, the more electricity or gas and the more detergent you’ll need to consume.
Too much PSI could also damage weaker surfaces, so you should match the pressure to the kind of job you’ll be doing.
You can also multiply the PSI and GPM to get the CP (Cleaning Power) of a washer. This way, you’ll be able to identify the range of pressure you’ll need from your washer.
You should look for a hose that’s long enough to provide you with maneuverability and comfort without compromising the consistency or level of pressure or PSI.
Although you can attach your own hose, it’s always a better option to get the one you need instead of buying it separately –especially if you have a limited budget.