What Is Power Washing?

March 5, 2019

Your 3 Minute Primer on Power Washing – Chicago Style

Chicago Power Wash Guys – Lesson of The Day

Power Washing – Definition

Power washing is the practice of using highly pressurized streams of hot water to clean away grime and materials from exterior surfaces. It is best used in heavily saturated surfaces, large commercial spaces, and for sturdier material such as concrete.

 The high pressure and hot temperature of the water makes removing otherwise difficult or downright impossible blemishes a breeze. 


When do you need power washing?

If you need to remove residue like oil stains, mildew, and mold from parking lots, siding, driveways, and more. The added heat also makes it extremely efficient at removing things like chewing gum from sidewalks. You can power wash kitchen equipment like conventional ovens, duct clean, and make grease removal a cinch. 

How Will I Know If I Need To Pressure Wash or Power Wash?

Pressure washing is best used for regular household use. It’s less damaging on surfaces, which makes it great for things like masonry, brick, and wood. When you want to give your deck or patio a quick clean, pressure washing is the way to go.

 For any larger surface areas, such as a large warehouse space or parking garage, opt to power washing. The high temperatures of the water water usually help to make the job go much quicker since the heat is great for loosening up the dirt. However, you need to be careful which surfaces you use it on. It’s best to only use it for washing concrete, asphalt and other hard surfaces when power washing, since the force of the hot water can do damage to softer surfaces such as wood.


Whichever type of pressure or power washing method you decide to use, just remember that it’s always best to hire a professional to handle  it for you. You’ll save time and money from potential errors. If you have not been properly trained on the correct methods to pressure washer or power washer, you could end up destroying the surface you’re working on or worse..such as a limb (or more..). You’d rather be safe than sorry, and here’s how.

Power Washing Safety

As always, with any mechanical equipment, safety is of the utmost importance. Take these precautions:

Never Aim the Wand at Anyone.

Always keep the wand pointed downward, finger off the trigger. Get comfortable with the amount of pressure needed to dispel the spray. Remember: A 0-degree red nozzle can etch even concrete, we can safely assume it will damage your body too. Even if you don’t see visible damage, the force from a power washer can cause serious internal tissue damage. Pressure washers are definitely not toys, and shouldn’t be mistaken for squirt guns.


Invest in Good Protective Equipment.

One more time for the guys in the back: the 0-degree red tip can damage concrete – your shoes and pants won’t stand a chance. Whenever you’re pressure or power washing, your feet, hands, and eyes face the highest risk of being injured. Not just from the spray but also from flying debris. This includes glass, rocks, nails, and worse.

A huge majority of pressure washing injuries can be prevented by simply wearing proper safety gear. We suggest sturdy boots, thick gloves, long pants, safety glasses, and hearing protection.

Never Operate a Gas Powered Pressure Washing Machine in an Enclosed Space.

Gasoline pressure washing engines emit carbon monoxide. Inhaling those fumes in an enclosed space could be fatal. Power washing machines emit twice the fumes – from the engine and the burner. If you start to feel nauseous, dizzy, or develop a headache, turn off the machine and catch some fresh air. Always pressure wash in well-ventilated areas. If you absolutely have to use a pressure washer in an enclosed space, just go with an electric pressure washer. Save the gas-powered machine for outdoor use.


Avoid Ladders Altogether

Many people, both first-timers and veterans, can underestimate the force of a pressure washing machine. Always check the unloader valve before starting your pressure washer. The recoil can very easily cause you to lose your balance and fall. Instead, invest a little in extension lances, wands, and attachments if you have to reach high exteriors such as soffit or multi level buildings.


Do a Walk Through

Examine the area you’ll be servicing for possible hazards before starting your power washer. Anything from bystanders to animals, obstructions you could trip on such as hoses, or uneven surfaces. While, you’re pressure washing, remain vigilant of your surroundings for any changes that could lead to mishaps. If you’re in an unsavory neighborhood make sure that you always have someone near the machine if you will be on a ladder.


Know Your Nozzles

When you see artistic designs done by pressure washers online, you might want to emulate it. But spray tip nozzles are not paintbrushes, they can cause serious injury. Always begin with the largest degree spray tip you have, and slowly narrow down from there.


Electricity & Water Do Not Mix

Water is one of the best conductors of electricity, so always use caution around outlets, electrical cords, and when using your own electric pressure washer. At R & R Chicago, we always do a walk through before a job begins to cover up any exposed outlets, frayed cables, or other potentially dangerous situations.


Treat Your Equipment Kindly

Always store your Power or Pressure washer in a clean, dry, well-ventilated space far away from any plugs that could spark. When storing your pressure washer in an unheated area, be sure to winterize it before the first frost. Simply attach a garden hose as you would to run water but instead the other end should go into a bottle of anti-freeze. If storing indoors, remove all gasoline from the engine right away.  AR Pump Saver is a great, affordable tool for those storing their pressure washers for more than 3 months, or if it will be subjected to below freezing temperatures (looking at you Chicago).

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