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How Does Pressure Washing Work?

Pressure washing is a highly effective method for cleaning a variety of surfaces, ranging from driveways and decks to siding and outdoor furniture. This process utilizes a pressure washer, a tool that uses the power of pressurized water to remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, algae, and other debris. Understanding how pressure washing and a pressure washer work can help homeowners achieve optimal results while maintaining the cleanliness and appearance of their property.

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How Pressure Washing Works:

Pressure washing involves the use of a high-pressure stream of water to clean surfaces. The process typically begins with preparing the area to be cleaned by removing any obstacles (like furniture on a deck) and closing nearby windows. Once the area is clear, the pressure washer is connected to a water source such as a garden hose. Now you are ready to start the pressure washer up.

The pressure washer pressurizes water from the water source using an electric motor or gas engine. In general, a gas engine will have a significantly more powerful engine able to pressurize more water at higher pressures. The pressurized water is then expelled through a specialized nozzle at the end of a wand (i.e. gun). The nozzle can be adjusted or replaced to control the intensity and width of the spray pattern, allowing for customization based on the surface being cleaned, distance from the wand, and the level of cleaning required.

As the pressurized water exits the nozzle, it creates a powerful stream in a fan pattern that effectively removes dirt, grime, and other contaminants from the surface. The quantity of the water stream, combined with the high pressure, helps to break apart and lift away stubborn stains and debris without the need for harsh chemicals or scrubbing. 

For more on this, read our article Can Pressure Washing Damage Vinyl Siding?

Components of a Pressure Washer:

Engine or Motor: Pressure washers are powered by either an electric motor or a gas engine. Electric pressure washers are typically more compact and lightweight, making them suitable for smaller tasks and indoor use, while gas-powered pressure washers offer greater mobility and higher pressure for more demanding cleaning jobs. Gas pressure washers are generally better for cleaning tasks but can occasionally have engine issues if improperly maintained (i.e. missing oil changes). For more on this, read our article on addressing engine issues on your pressure washer.

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Pump: The pump is responsible for pressurizing the water from the water source. It creates a high-pressure stream of water that is expelled through the nozzle. Pumps in pressure washers can be either axial or triplex, with triplex pumps generally offering higher durability and performance.

Hose and Wand: The hose carries water from the water source to the pressure washer unit, while the wand or lance directs the pressurized water onto the surface being cleaned. Wands may come with various nozzle attachments to adjust the spray pattern and intensity.

Nozzles: Pressure washer nozzles come in different sizes and configurations, each designed for specific cleaning tasks. Common nozzle types include 0-degree (for pinpoint accuracy), 15-degree (for high-pressure cleaning), 25-degree (for general cleaning), and 40-degree (for wide coverage and lower pressure).

pressure washing nozzle diagram
Various Nozzles Used In Pressure Washing

Detergent Tank (Sometimes): Some pressure washers feature a built-in detergent tank for adding cleaning solutions to the water stream. This can enhance the cleaning power and effectiveness, particularly for tough stains or heavily soiled surfaces. If a tank isn’t on your pressure washer it likely has a nipple on the pump for the attachment of a siphon tube that will go directly into the chemical container.

Benefits of Pressure Washing:

Efficiency: Pressure washing can significantly reduce cleaning time and effort compared to manual methods like scrubbing or sweeping.

Versatility: Pressure washers can be used on a wide range of surfaces, including concrete, wood, brick, vinyl, and metal.

Environmentally Friendly: Pressure washing typically requires only water, minimizing the need for harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. In many parts of the US, water is an abundant and cheap resource.

Maintenance: Regular pressure washing can help prevent the buildup of mold, mildew, and other contaminants, prolonging the lifespan of outdoor surfaces and improving their appearance.

Pressure washing is a powerful cleaning method that utilizes pressurized water to remove dirt, grime, and stains from various surfaces. By understanding how pressure washing and pressure washers work, homeowners can effectively maintain the cleanliness and appearance of their property with ease and efficiency. If you are a homeowner looking to have your home pressure washed, reach out to EcoWash today.


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