pressure washer questions


Old 02-16-04, 07:20 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 48
pressure washer questions

Hey all,

I'm planning to paint my house this spring and need to powerwash the exterior to get the loose/flaking paint off. It's cedar siding and as I said, the paint is visibly flaking off in spots. My question is, will one of the low cost electric pressure washers (i.e. 1000-1500psi) be suitable for this use, then future use would be aound the house cleaning tasks. I'm on a budget to begin with, otherwise I'd hire someone to paint the house, so that is a consideration.

thanks in advance for any help!!
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Old 02-16-04, 10:05 AM
Pendragon's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 1,839
A 1500 psi washer would have no problem taking off flaking paint (and then some), but it won't completely strip the old paint off.

One of the main differences, as far as the home use is concerned, on pressure washer ratings is that a lower rated washer takes longer to do the same job and the wand tip has to be held closer to the work surface. When you're paid by the job, the more you can knock out in a day is important. When you're doing as a weekend project, you just want to get done and not break the bank.

I paid about $250 for mine, I've had it for years and it's worked fine for washing the house, cleaning driveways and decks, etc.

One thing you will need is a high pressure fluid injector (about $25), and a backflow preventer (walmart $10), which typically doesn't come with the low end units. A place like either Harbor Freight or Northern Tools has them. It connects between the water hose and the pump inlet, and lets you spray cleaning agents at high pressure. The backflow preventer makes sure it doesn't back up into the house line if water pressure is lost for some reason.

Another thing you might want to get, is a replacement wand (another $25 or so) that has a flow through valve. These are the kind used at car washes and essentially allow some water to flow even when you aren't using them. Pressure washer pumps are cooled by the water flowing through them, and most home units have full shut off handles. This means if you stop using it for more than a few minutes without also turning off the pump, you can burn out the pump.

Also note that, if not used regularlly, the seals in the handle will dry out and have to be replaced, so go ahead and buy replacements.

When you are shopping for a pressure washer, the two important numbers are pressure, espressed as PSI and flow rate, expressed as gallons per minute. I believe mine is 1500 psi @ 2.2 gpm (equivilent to a low flow showerhead). You can find high end models that are 5000 psi @ 5 gpm.
Old 02-17-04, 08:34 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Quincy
Posts: 233

When I wanted to clean my deck I went to Wal-Mart and got the electric 1700-PSI model. It came with two nozzles. I started with the high-pressure nozzle and quickly discovered the high-pressure nozzle was splintering the wood. I was giving the wood a fury appearance. I switched to the other nozzle and it worked great. I have cleaned my deck for the last three years and a 200-Ft. wooden privacy fence with no problem.
I tell you this to let you know that high pressure can damage the surface of you siding and you do not need to invest in a high priced power washer to do the job.
Good luck.

Old 02-17-04, 09:13 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 48
Thanks much for the responses. I went out today and purchased one rated at 1800 psi and 2.1gpm that has a fluid injector built in. I believe this psi rating is with one wand, and the regular wand is 1500psi. Saw it was on sale, so I ran out this morning :-) Man I'm a sucker for tools!
Old 02-17-04, 09:54 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
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FWIW, the pro's will clean decks at 4000 psi, but they use a special cleaning head, the spray isn't even visible.

VA Guy, make sure that the fluid injector works on high pressure. Mine has a fluid injector built in too, but it only works with the spray head on low pressure, once you turn the head to the high pressure cleaning, the fluid injector shuts off.
Old 02-18-04, 07:03 AM
fewalt's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: sw VA
Posts: 3,100
Not exactly correct! The pros will not use 4000 psi to clean decks.
Their machines may be rated at 3500 to 4000 psi, like mine, however, 1500 to 2500 psi with a 40 degree tip will be used. And the distance from the spray nozzle to the wood surface will usually determine the volume with the degree of cleaning required(algae, mildew, greying, etc). The pressure will be lowered for softer woods such as cedar.
Fluid injectors are usually not used on wood decks. Most oxygenated bleaches require a dwell time from to to 20 minutes.

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