Home Buyers Guide: Choosing The Best Pressure Washer

Consider your cleaning needs, available budget, and available storage space in choosing the pressure washer that is best for you.

Pressure washers are excellent cleaning tools. Pressure washers can be used to clean vinyl siding, remove stains from patios, driveways, and sidewalks, or wash your vehicles. Choosing a pressure washer can be difficult because there are numerous styles from which to choose, and pressure washers advertise features that are unfamiliar to many consumers. Consider your own cleaning needs and your budget when selecting a pressure washer.

Pressure washers are generally divided into two large categories, electrical and gas powered. The electricity running into your home powers electrical pressure washers. Therefore, they will not function long distances from electrical outlets unless extension cords are used. Electrical pressure washers are relatively inexpensive; they are usually priced between $100 and $200. Electrical pressure washers are also typically less powerful than gas powered machines.

Gas powered pressure washers may be used in any area where there is water connection available. They offer a freedom of movement not available in electrical pressure washers because they are not bound to an electrical outlet. Gas powered washers will typically be more appropriate for use when cleaning long distances from an available electrical plug. Gas powered pressure washers are also usually more powerful than electrical pressure washers. They are also more expensive, costing between $200 and $1000.

The two key factors to consider when purchasing a pressure washer are pounds per square inch (PSI) and gallons per minute (GPM). The PSI tells the amount of pressure that the machine will apply at any one given time. A PSI of 1250 means that the machine will apply 1250 pounds of pressure per square inch covered by the spray. Consumers frequently assume that a higher PSI means that the cleaning job will take less time. This is incorrect. The PSI simply tells what the pressure washer is capable of removing. For example, a pressure washer with a PSI of 1250 may remove dirt from the driveway, but may not remove rust stains from a building. The PSI tells the strength of the bond that that machine is capable of breaking. Pressure washers PSI rates usually from 1200 to 3500.

The GPM of the pressure washer is a more accurate predictor of the time required to complete a job using a particular machine. The GPM tells how many gallons of water applied to the surface each minute. The more gallons applied to the surface, the faster the cleaning is completed. Cleaning a large driveway that is covered with dirt will be completed more quickly with a pressure washer with a high GPM than it will with a machine with a high PSI. The PSI tells the strength of the bond that can be broken by the machine, while the GPM tells the amount of surface area covered by the machine in one minute. Pressure washer GPM rates typically range from 1.0 to 4.0.

Other personal considerations should be evaluated in determining which pressure washer is best for you. If you are cleaning a relatively small area of loosely bonded debris, you may want to invest in a small pressure washer that will be sufficient to accomplish the task. If you plan use the machine only once or twice a year, a less expensive and less durable machine might be all that you need. Also consider your storage limitations. Smaller electrical pressure washers can sometimes be stored in a small closet inside the house, while larger units will require more room for proper storage.

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