How to choose the right pressure washer to save water and time on outside chores

SPRAY AWAY: Pressure washers are a great tool for weekend warriors. Photo: Supplied
SPRAY AWAY: Pressure washers are a great tool for weekend warriors. Photo: Supplied

From cleaning pathways to outdoor furniture, brick walls and machinery, pressure washers can help tackle numerous outdoor jobs.

However with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which pressure washer is the right fit for the task at hand.

According to power tool company Dewalt, cleaning with the right pressure washer is 10 times faster and more water efficient than cleaning by hand, and due to their versatility have become increasingly popular with homeowners.

Different pressure washers have a variety of functions and accessories, suiting everyone from the weekend warrior to serious DIY renovators.

Some of the most common projects for cleaning around the outside of the home include washing mossy paths, removing mould from walls, and everyday dirt, dust and weather sediments from outdoor furniture.

Pressure washers can also be used on fences and house exterior for paint preparation, as well as washing your car, caravan or bike.

While generally user-friendly and cost effective, the main drawbacks are that electric models generally have lower pressure and flow, and you are restricted by the length of the power cord. Petrol machines can go anywhere and provide higher pressure, flow and durability.

According to Matthew Tojic, Dewalt's category manager at Mayo Hardware, the first decision to make is whether you want an electric or petrol-powered motor.

"Will you have access to 240V power, or will you be using your pressure washer in a location where 240V power is unavailable," he asks. "This could be the determining factor of whether you will need an electric or petrol-powered pressure washer."

Pressure washers are rated by a PSI (pounds per square inch) unit of measure. This calculates how much pressure is created by the pressure washer and its flow rate applied to an area of one square inch. The higher the pressure and flow, the more effective it will be when cleaning.

"Using a commercial pressure washer with a high PSI may cause damage to the material you are trying to clean," says Tojic.

"For every day house tasks, ensure to use a PSI range of 1500 to 2000. When working on projects, begin with the lowest PSI setting and gradually increase the pressure."

Cleaning weatherboards, concrete stains, large outdoor areas and walls requires a higher PSI range of 2000 to 3000.

For intensive cleaning, such as graffiti removal, a PSI range of 3000 and above is required.

"Some brands of pressure washers have high PSI but a low flow rate. This will result in a powerful mist of water that is not that effective in cleaning," says Tojic.

"It is important to compare both PSI and flow rate when researching different models and brands of pressure washers."

Tojic said the industry is observing homeowners putting the 'green' into their green thumbs, with an increased focus on saving water and helping their local environment.

"There is an increased interest in reducing water usage," he says.

"Additionally, jobs such as cleaning your driveway or deck take an incredible amount of time by hand - up to half a day - whereas using a pressure washer will get the job done in about an hour."

Using accessories such as interchangeable nozzles is a great way to change the pressure of the water for different types of jobs; turbo nozzles increase the surface area the water hits and therefore help to clean faster.

There are also pressure washers that come with deck cleaning and soap dispenser abilities, with attachments that connect to the end of the pressure washer and increase the surface area that the pressure washer can clean.

"They can be used to dramatically reduce the time it takes to clean a large area like a driveway or deck," says Tojic.

"Other machines have in-built canisters for chemicals, which are handy if you do a lot of cleaning with chemicals."

Rather than labouring through the chores, switching to a pressure washer is a clever way for homeowners to do their bit towards being more water-wise, while reclaiming some of the weekend.

This story Choosing the right pressure washer to save water and time first appeared on The Canberra Times.