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Putting on the Pressure

Pressure washers can remove dirt and grime much more efficiently and effectively than traditional methods, and make your Spring-cleaning projects easier to finish.

Dreading the thought of cleaning your siding with your garden hose, a bucket and a scrub brush? Consider purchasing a pressure washer to make the job easier. Pressure washers can remove dirt and grime much more efficiently and effectively than traditional methods. A pressure washer combines an electric motor or gas engine with a pump, and turns an ordinary garden hose into a high-powered cleaning machine. Cleaning solutions can be added to the pressurized water, providing better cleaning results, and adjustable spray wands and brushes accommodate different cleaning situations.

Four main categories of pressure washers exist: light-duty electric; residential gas powered; heavy-duty gas powered; and professional gas powered. When shopping for pressure washers some important terms to know are "pounds per square inch" (PSI), which indicates the pressure of the water, and "gallons per minute"(GPM), which indicates how much water is flushed through the washer at a given time.

The light-duty electric versions work wonderfully for washing cars, boats, house siding, decks, fences, patio furniture, and sweeping up debris. This type of washer has 1,300 to 1,400 pound PSI and uses 1.5 GPM. It sells for $150 to $200.

Residential pressure washers have gas-powered engines. These units have more power than the light-duty electric, so they can perform all the tasks mentioned above, plus they work well for removing stubborn dirt from lawn and garden equipment. They generally have about 1,650 to 2,400 PSI and a 3.75 to six horsepower side-valve or overhead engine and cost anywhere from $300 to $500.�

Heavy-duty pressure washers have more resilient engines and pumps for more power. This type of pressure washer is a good investment if you are using the washer frequently, as in a painting business, where the washer is used to prepare houses for painting. These units have 2,400 - 3,000 PSI, a 5.0 - 8.0 horsepower overhead valve or overhead valve industrial engine and they cost anywhere from $500 - $900.

Professional pressure washers are designed with an industrial engine and pump to accommodate professional users. These machines are powerful enough to clean brick and concrete, and even remove graffiti. They have 2,500 - 4,000 PSI, a 6.5 - 15 horsepower premium overhead valve industrial engine and typically retail for $800 to $1,400.

Consider a pressure washer for those tedious spring-cleaning tasks, as well as for large projects like preparing surfaces for painting. Not only will it make the job go quicker, but a new tool always makes a project more interesting.

Sources include: Christopher Schulteis,