Pressure Washing Techniques for the Home

A pressure washer can be a valuable addition to the tools you have at home. It can be used for a multitude of jobs, both routine and unusual. At the same time it has to be treated with respect and care to avoid doing damage to your property. When properly used and maintained a pressure washer will enable you to rapidly and thoroughly do jobs that could be close to impossible to accomplish manually.

Purchasing a pressure washer

If you do not presently have a pressure washer but are in the market for one, you will find many to chose from. To make the decision easier there are a number of online sources on the Internet that can provide valuable information and things to consider. To start with you should decide what you will be most likely using your pressure washer for. This will help you to select the size and features of the best electric pressure washer and assist in narrowing down the choices. Besides doing your own online research you should visit stores such as big box home improvement stores and lawn and garden or other establishments that sell pressure washers. Be prepared to ask the sales people specific questions. There are several key specifications that define the performance of pressure washers. They are:

  • Pressure (PSI-pounds per square inch): For typical residential applications 1500 to 2500 PSI should be sufficient. The higher the PSI the more efficient the cleaning.
  • Gallons per minute (GPM): A 4 GPM pressure washer is a solid choice
  • Cleaning Unit (CU):This is the water pressure multiplied by the water flow and an indicator of cleaning power

There are other things to take into consideration such as whether you prefer an electric or gas engine powered pressure washer. Electric pressure washers can be somewhat more convenient in that they do not need winterization as a gas pressure washer does. At the same time they may not develop the same pressures as a gas powered model. In addition a gas-powered model is more portable and easily moved and used in locations where access to electricity is limited or not available. Obviously a source of running water is always needed. Gas models do produce carbon monoxide thus they are not appropriate for use in confined areas such as garages. You should investigate the systems anti-shock protection when considering an electric model. You can purchase both hot water and cold-water models. The cold water models are the least expensive but may not do as good of a job on degreasing jobs.

Pressure Washing Techniques for the Home

When selecting the pressure washer you’ll want to hold the water distribution wand in your hand and determine how comfortable it is. With many jobs you will be holding the wand for an extended period of time and will want to make sure it is ergonomically comfortable. Most pressure washers will have a low-pressure nozzle setting and a soap or solvent dispenser reservoir. This enables you to spray a solvent on the work surface prior to the power-washing step. While this feature is convenient you should ask the sales person how far this spray will reach. It can be frustrating to be pressure washing a house and able to reach the second floor in the power-washing mode but not be able to reach it when dispensing the solvent or soap.

Also check to see if there are any restrictions on the water hose size and home water pressure required. On most washers the garden hose connection is done with quick connect fitting that is screwed on the hose. The dispensing wand is often a threaded fitting that is hand tightened. Check to see what the standard length of the hose is that connects the wand to the pressure washer. Twenty-five feet is probably the minimum length. Determine if you can be an extension that would increase this length to perhaps 50 feet. When pressure washing a house it is much more convenient to have a long hose rather then having to move the washer around continuously.

Safety considerations

Since the water and solvent or soap (if used) is coming out of the nozzle with great force you should always wear eye protection. When working close to the area being cleaned it is easy for the spray to rebound and get in your eyes or face. When using bleach or other corrosive it is likely you will get it on your skin and clothing due to reflected spray or wind blown mist. Keep this in mind when working near landscaped areas and neighbors houses. Children, bystanders or pets should not be allowed in the area when a pressure washer is being used. The inadvertent misdirected high-pressure spray could cause severe eye or skin damage.

When using a pressure washer wand while standing on a ladder bear in mind that the force of the water leaving the nozzle puts a significant reactive force on the wand. This instantaneous ‘kick’ backwards when you first press the wand trigger can cause you to lose balance when on a ladder so appropriate caution must always be observed.

Consider the tasks and limitations

The number of tasks that can be done with a pressure washer are more numerous then can be listed here and is only limited by your imagination. Obviously you have to think clearly about the possible consequences before tackling a job with a pressure washer. For example using a high-pressure jet stream nozzle setting when cleaning a wood deck can be detrimental. The water can quickly erode away the wood and leave a permanent etched trail anywhere the wand was pointed. Typically, for wood surfaces such as a deck or wood (or composite) house siding a fan spray nozzle setting would be more appropriate. For pressure washing vinyl siding you might want to select a narrower, higher-pressure fan spray. If you are reaching the second floor from the ground you can use a tightly constricted, highest pressure setting since it will disperse by the time it reaches the second floor but don’t make the mistake of lowering the nozzle to touch up an area on the first floor or you can drill a hole through the siding quickly.

Other uses of a pressure washer include cleaning concrete garage floors and driveways and washing cars and degreasing engines. The pressure washer is effective in cleaning mildew off of brick or stone patios. In addition for a non-cemented patio composed of bricks or pavers it can effectively clean out vegetation in the spaces between the stones in preparation for refilling with sand or gravel. Swimming pools, yard furniture, window and screen cleaning are additional possibilities for your pressure washer. Typically the more you use your pressure washer the more applications you will think of.

The pressure washer can be a valuable tool for the homeowner but it needs to be treated with respect to avoid unexpected and damaging results. As with any tool always use it with caution and follow the safety guidelines. Take good care of it and it will give you many years of service.

How to Choose the Best Leaf Blower

How to Choose the Best Leaf BlowerThe type of leaf blower you should buy will depend on many factors, including its intended use, your personal strength, and the amount of area you’ll need to cover while using it. Manufacturers make several different types of leaf blowers for different uses, and some are made for residential projects, while others are generally aimed at commercial use.

What Type of Leaf Blower Do You Need?

The first thing you need to know before buying a leaf blower is what specific type will be best for the project(s) you have in mind. There are two basic types of machines that you can find at your local hardware store. The first is a regular blower that does nothing but push air out through the main tube; the second is a blower/vacuum combination.

If you will need to vacuum debris from your yard, driveway or commercial property, a leaf blower with a vacuum attachment might serve your purposes best. This eliminates the need to keep track of two machines, and leaf blower vacuums are often more powerful than those you would find by themselves.

After you’ve selected the type of leaf blower you need, you will have to select the style. First, you can purchase a handheld blower, which is the most popular style. It is relatively light-weight with a handle on the top, but it isn’t usually as powerful as the other two styles. If you have more complicated projects in mind, you might prefer the backpack-style leaf blower, which is generally gas-powered fits over your shoulder for ease of use.

The last type of leaf blower you should consider is the walk-behind style, which is usually intended for commercial use. This machine is pushed ahead of the user on wheels, and is also powered by gas. It is probably overkill for a simple residential lawn, but can make commercial projects far easier.

What Power Source Is Best?

After you’ve selected the type and style of leaf blower you want to buy, you’ll need to decide what power source works best for your outdoor projects. Leaf blowers can be powered by either electricity or gas, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each.

When buying a leaf blower, it’s important to consider the terrain over which you will be using it. For example, a corded electric leaf blower would be difficult to use in an area where there are no electrical outlets. A gas-powered machine requires constant checking for gasoline levels, however, which can be tedious. It all depends on your personal preferences.

Most people who buy leaf blowers for small residential properties prefer electric battery-powered machines. They can be re-charged overnight in the garage, and the run time is increasing steadily as manufacturers add larger batteries to their products. Battery-powered machines are generally less powerful than other types, but they are fine for small jobs that don’t take long to complete.

What Else Should You Consider?

Now that you’ve narrowed down your options, you can get into the picky aspects of buying a leaf blower. For example, blowers are measured in terms of power (mph), and usually range from around 100 mph to more than 200 mph. A small residential lot shouldn’t require anything stronger than 150 mph, so don’t get one with more force than you need.

It is also a good idea to consider buying a leaf blower with multiple speed settings, which allows you to manipulate the rate at which the machine blows its air. If you’re just pushing leaves from a concrete surface, such as a sidewalk, you don’t need your machine to blow at 175 mph. This will also have an impact on the noise generated by the leaf blower, which can be an issue in neighborhood where noise ordinances are in effect.

Now that you know a little bit about buying a leaf blower, you should be ready to venture out on your own. You can check your local hardware store, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, or you can look for available machines online. In some cases, Internet Web sites have the best prices on gardening equipment, and some won’t charge you for shipping if your order costs more than $50.00.

Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance TipsAfter sitting through the cold winter months, many things can go wrong with a lawn mower. When spring arrives many homeowners find that their lawn mower won’t start or runs poorly. Here are a few simple things that a homeowner can do to get that lawn mower running well for another summer season without having to take the mower to a repair shop.

Bad Gas

In my experience with my own lawn mowers and mowers used by landscaping companies that I have worked with over the years, bad gas is the most common reason that a lawn mower fails to start in spring. If the mower’s tank is not full, it is possible to top off the tank with new gas and get the mower to start. However, it is generally best to drain the old gas and refill the tank with new. To prevent this problem you should either run the mower completely out of gas or add a fuel stabilizer to the gas before storing it for winter.

Spark Plug

A mower’s spark plug becomes fouled from the combustion of the gasoline. In addition to combustion, small oil leaks and contaminants in the gas can further add to the fouling of a spark plug. Spring is a good time to pull the plug to examine it for problems. Use a rag to wipe away oil or other deposits on the plug. Use a wire brush or file to clean hard deposits off of the spark plug. You can also simply replace the spark plug, plugs are very inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware stores, home improvement centers and other retailers.

Clogged Filter

You should check your mower’s air filter in the spring after the mower has sat idle through the winter months. Refer to the owner’s manual for the mower to determine the proper procedure for cleaning the filter and the recommended replacement interval. The most common symptom of a clogged air filter is a mower that starts fine, begins to run poorly and then dies. Even if the filter is not clogged enough to prevent the mower from running, a restricted air filter will lower the efficiency of the mower’s engine. This reduced efficiency will reduce the engine’s power and increase the engine’s fuel use.