A buyer’s guide to pressure washers
It’s amazing how quickly dirt and algae can build up on paving and other surfaces in the garden. A pressure washer can greatly reduce the time and effort it takes to give outdoor spaces a spring clean. Electric pressure washers range from about £40 to over £400 in price. How much you spend will depend on what you’re cleaning, and how often you need to use the machine. Budget models can be found for less than £100. These will be less robust than pricier models, and less powerful. They’re fine for small areas that aren’t heavily soiled, but are less suitable for larger, very dirty areas. Mid and premium range models have heavier duty components that won’t be prone to frost damage. There are three measures to consider: the power of the motor, the pressure of the water, and the maximum water flow rate. Low power motors range from 1200 to 1600 watts.
Medium range up to 2000. And high-end, semi-professional models up to 2,500. Water pressure is measured in bars. Budget models will provide 90 bars or less. Medium range up to 130, while premium washers give up to 150 bars of pressure. The maximum water flow rate is defined in litres per hour. For small areas and particularly on block paving or wooden decking, a low power rate will clean well without damaging the surface. If a bit of extra pressure is needed, the variable nozzle apertures can be adjusted. For larger, paved areas opt for a more powerful machine with a high flow rate. Also choose a model with a long hose reach. Some machines come with a multitude of accessories and attachments.
With others you need to buy these separately. Ease and comfort of use are paramount. Is the lance comfortable to hold for long periods of time? Does model come with wheels, and if so, do they run smoothly? Pricier models will be better quality, but they can be heavy, so do bear this in mind, if that could be a problem for you. You should also have an RCD on the electricity supply. Think about water connections on your site. Make sure your hose connections have universal fittings and a water stop connector. Waterproof clothing is a very good idea, and goggles will protect you from the debris that gets thrown up. Ear defenders shouldn’t be necessary, although budget models can be very noisy. Adjustable nozzles provide greater versatility and extra power on tougher surfaces such as metal furniture. Equally you need to be able to reduce the pressure on powerful models to avoid damaging more vulnerable surfaces such as decking.
Make sure the water used can drain away, and never work in freezing temperatures. The patio cleaner attachment for use on flat surfaces delivers two high pressure jets on a rotating arm beneath the hood, which has a brush skirt. Rotating nozzles are used where the cleaning needs to be persistent but not too direct. For example over vulnerable mortar joints or old terracotta pots. Other options include brushes for cars and glass, 90 degree nozzles for cleaning under cars, long drain-blasting hoses, and detergent bottles that deliver diluted detergent. These tend to work best when integrated into the body of the machine rather than attached to the lance. Make sure that detergent isn’t draining off into neighbouring beds and borders. Storage is another important consideration. How much space will the pressure washer take up in your shed? Does the model allow for the accessories to be stored on the body of the machine? Is there an integrated, easy-to-use hose reel? Lots to think about. By considering all these points carefully, you’ll be able to find a pressure washer that suits you, your garden, and your budget.