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How to Use a Pressure Washer Safely


Due to the high pressure they produce, you must understand how to correctly operate one before you start.


Terms you should know before purchasing:

PSI – pounds per square inch, measures how much pressure is produced by the machine. The bigger the PSI, the stronger the spray it can produce.

GPM – gallons per minute, the flow rate of the water. The higher the GPM, the less water efficient the machine is.

CU – cleaning units = PSI x GPM. Generally, the higher the CU, the more powerful and efficient the machine is.


How pressure washers work

Pressure washers use gas engines or electric motors to power a pump that pressurizes water from your garden hose to very high pressures of 1,000 – 3,000+ PSI (pounds per square inch). This powerful water stream is forced through a narrow spray wand. The high pressure from the water spray is what removes dirt from the cleaning surface. The higher the pressure, the tougher the grime it can remove.


How to use a pressure washer safely

The high pressure of the water spray can damage property. It can break windows, strip paint from your car, or gouge holes in brick. It can also cause bodily harm such as lacerations, electrocution, and deadly falls. Before you begin to use any pressure washer, make sure you understand how to use it safely.

Read the manual – It will tell you exactly how to operate your machine, plus it will include information about replacement parts, customer service, warranties, and troubleshooting tips.

The highest pressure (red) nozzle that shoots a very narrow stream of water, which makes it the most dangerous in terms of physical injury and property damage.

Prep your surroundings. Cover exterior lights and vents, and close your windows. Get all tripping hazards out of the way, including furniture, hoses, wires, toys, potted plants, pets, and kids.

If there’s one safety rule to remember most, it’s to never, EVER, get your hands or any other part of you in the way of the pressure washer spray. Don’t spray it at anyone else, either. Never let children use a pressure washer, unless they’re older teens that understand the risks.

No ladders! Pressure washers can produce a serious kickback force, which can lead to a nasty fall. Opt for extension wands to reach high areas instead. Or call a professional cleaner.

These safety tips apply specifically to each type of pressure washer:

For electric pressure washers, avoid extension cords. Since you’re pairing electricity and water, there’s always a risk of electrocution if the extension cord isn’t properly grounded. An extension cord can also shorten the life of your pressure washer and may even void the warranty in some models. ALWAYS consult your owner’s manual before using an extension cord.

Also, the engine can get very hot. When finished, turn off the washer and let it cool before you put it away. Keep the hoses away from the engine so they won’t melt.

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