Do-it-Yourself? but only Sometimes

A recent Chicago Tribune article that was published by Mike McClintock in the Do-it-Yourself section warned about household pressure washing. When should you take on a pressure washing project? When should you call in an expert? When should a residential pressure washer be used? When should a commercial pressure washer be used? These are just some of the questions answered by McClintock throughout the article.

Household electric pressure washers can boost your water pressure from roughly 50 psi to 2,000 psi while a household gas power washer can reach 4,000 psi easily. In other words, that is about 80 times the output of a normal garden hose. Any pressure washer contractor will tell you that it is not the pressure that will get your wood deck looking new again, in fact too much pressure can damage the wood. It is the knowledge that a contractor has that you are often paying for. Most homeowners do not know about pressure washing safety guidelines and when you should use more or less pressure.

Yes, a household pressure washer will often be able to clean a deck, your vinyl siding and your gutters. But what type of cleaning agents should you use for each? How much pressure is necessary for each? And most importantly, how much time will it take your new Do-it-Yourself project compared to that of a contractor? Most articles you come across online including McClintock’s, discuss psi or pressure per square inch. While this is important the amount of water output by your machine is hands down more important. And, this is the one major difference between a residential pressure washer and a commercial pressure washer.

Water output is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. A residential pressure washer will often match the psi of a commercial pressure washer but the GPM is far less. A standard powerwasher that you can rent or purchase from a local hardware store will output around 2 to 3 gallons per minute while a commercial powerwasher that a contractor would use not only will output 4 to 8 gallons per minute but will come equipped with a hot water option for tough stains. My recommendation to homeowners is if you have a small job like a sidewalk or part of your siding then try it yourself. If not, call in a professional.