Q: What is the difference between a pressure washer and a power washer?
A: The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is one main difference. Pressure washers use ground temperature water, whereas a power washer uses a heating element to heat the water before spraying it out. Due to the heating element, power washers are often more effective at removing stains with living bacteria, like mold.
Q: Do I need to wear protective gear when using a pressure washer?
A: Pressure washer nozzles can shoot water at 30 to 80 times more pressure than a standard garden hose and have surprisingly strong cutting capabilities, no matter which spray setting you use. According to Occupational Health and Safety magazine, water jetting hazards and injuries include noise, eye injuries, cuts, slips, trips, falls, head and water blasting injuries. Use caution and wear appropriate PPE, including safety glasses, head protection and cut-resistant gloves when operating a pressure washer. When the adjustable wand tip is set at its narrowest spray setting or tip, a jet of water could cause lacerations and other serious injuries.
Q: Can you run soap through a pressure washer?
A: When pressure washing alone isn’t enough to remove set-in stains, detergents can help remove tough dirt and spots. Detergents and soaps help loosen stains so your pressure washer can easily clean and help restore surfaces. There are specific pressure washer detergents depending on the type of job. Many pressure washers now feature detergent tanks making it easy to add soap to the basin of the pressure washer or the siphon hose. Never use detergents with bleach in your power washer because it could damage the pump, hose or nozzle. Pressure washer spray guns and wands like foamers and soap shooters attach to the end of your spray gun, allowing you to spray detergents or other chemicals without going through your pump.
Q: Can you damage hard surfaces like concrete with a pressure washer?
A: Yes. The main cause of accidental surface damage with pressure washers is using the wrong tip or nozzle. If you're unsure which nozzle to use, experts recommend starting with a wide spray tip and switching to one with a more direct angle as needed. The white 40-degree nozzle is an excellent general all-purpose tip to begin with.
Q: What OSHA standards apply to pressure washers?
A: According to OSHA, abrasive blasting uses compressed air or water to direct a high-powered stream of an abrasive material to clean and prepare an object or surface before painting or applying another type of coating. Pressure washer equipment can exceed 85 dBA, so it’s essential to always wear hearing protection as required by the OSHA Occupational Noise standard. Employers must also protect workers from hazardous dust levels and toxic metals that may come from a substrate and the blasted material or object. Depending on the job, appropriate PPE should be worn whenever pressure washing, including hearing protection, eye and face protection, a helmet, cut-resistant gloves that protect the entire forearm, aprons or coveralls, and safety shoes or boots.
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