Shared Knowledge


How to: Select a Power Washer


2 May 2006


Summary: from my mind, one of those times when you want as much power, pressure, as you can afford. Easier to back off pressure when you do not need it that have too little pressure for the intended job(s).




Just like just about any product you can think of, there are plenty of different power washers in the retail marketplace to choose from. Available power washers range from gasoline engine or electric motor driven washer with pounds per square inch (PSI) units from about 1500 to 4000 and with prices ranging from $100-150 or so to as much as $600. So, what is the deal? If you are looking to buy a washer, why not just buy the cheapest? Won’t a cheap washer do the same job as a more expensive washer? Well, yes and no. You could use a 20inch-wide cut push lawn mower to cut an acre of grass but you would not want to. The width of the cut is just too small and you are going to have to spend a lot of extra time walking and cutting compared to using a 40inch-riding mower. The same thing is true when it comes to power washers.


I have owned 2 washers. One I inherited from my father-in-law, which was a 1750PSI electric and the one I own now, a gasoline engine driven 3000PSI.


The 1750PSI washer was bought by my father-in-law to wash the crud off his fishing boat when he brought it home from an outing. As I never heard him complain about it and he never replaced it, it must have been up to the task of blasting scum off fiberglass. When I inherited it, I wanted to use it to clean: mold off of brick walls; vinyl siding and grime off flagstone patios. It did not take me more than 5 minutes of trying to use it on brick to realize the 1750PSI unit was not up to the job. Yes, if I held the nozzle in one location long enough, the washer would clean a pencil width of the brick or flagstone but using this washer it would have taken hours and hours to “cut the lawn.”


With the 1750, I only had one nozzle. With my current 3000PSI unit, I have 4 nozzles, which allow various spray widths and thus pressures. The highest-pressure nozzle is like a pencil point and will blast paint off of wood or metal, as I have done it. The next nozzle down and thus having a wider spray width and lower pressure is what I use for all my cleaning jobs. With this nozzle, I get about 3inches of cleaning power per pass of the pressure gun wand and it cleans brick and flagstone, no problem. I have also used it to wash cars and brake dust off car mag wheels.


So, what am I trying to say? Like so many products in the market, many are just not real but are toys. I think a 1750PSI washer is a toy and not suitable for much of anything. What about a 2500PSI? Maybe, but in the case of a power washer, get something, which will save you time. If your time is valuable and it is, whatever you spend once on a high-pressure washer will pay for itself in your time quickly: 3000PSI at a minimum.




Ron - Shared Knowledge Home