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    How to Find the Right Pressure Washer

    Using a pressure washer to clean lawn equipment, automobiles like cars or trucks, patio furniture or other outdoor surfaces such as wooden or brick fences and gates, concrete or asphalt driveways and patios or pavers is a good way to get great results quickly. Your home siding, brick walls, barn or other structure made of wood, metal, asphalt or concrete will look brand new after giving it a high pressure spray. Team members at your local Tractor Supply can help you decide what pressure washer is right for you. You can also special order many pressure washers and accessories from your local TSC store. Read this guide to get more information about pressure washers, how they work and which pressure washer may be the right one to fit your needs.

    Pressure Washer Performance

    Pressure washer manufacturers use a rating system that measures two things:

    • PSI (pounds per square inch) measures the how much pressure the washer puts out or the power of the spray. PSI refers to the water pressure, measured in pounds per square inch. Pressure determines how much force is applied to break down stubborn dirt and grime.
    • GPM (gallons per minute) measures the volume of water the pressure washer sprays in a given time.GPM is the water flow delivered to the spray gun. Flow determines how much water runs through the system and provides the muscle to break down dirt faster and remove it from the area.

    The higher the pounds per square inch and gallons per minute, the faster and more effective the pressure washer is at cleaning off surfaces. Choosing the right combination of PSI and GPM is the key to purchasing your ideal pressure washer. The combination of PSI and GPM determines a pressure washer’s cleaning power (or CP). Pressure washer cleaning power offers a better indication of a machine’s overall performance and is useful when comparing pressure washers.

    To calculate cleaning power (CP), multiply a pressure washer’s maximum PSI rating by its GPM flow (CP = PSI x GPM).

    When trying to figure out what type of pressure washer you need, consider how often you will use the pressure washer and what type of surface you need to clean.

    How Often Will You Use the Pressure Washer?

    After deciding how much power you need to get the job done, consider how often you will be using your pressure washer. If you plan on using it less than 100 hours per year, you may want to choose a pressure washer with a lower PSI. However, if you will use it more frequently, Tractor Supply recommends a higher PSI pressure washer.

    Use the following chart to determine what type of pressure washer to choose for your specific needs:

    Occasional Use Pressure Washer

    Cleaning Power (CP) For Cleaning Cleaning Speed
    1400-2100 PSI
    1.8-2.1 GPM
    • Patio Furniture
    • Lawn Equipment
    • Automobiles like cars, trucks or boats
    Fast

    Semi-Frequent Use Pressure Washer

    Cleaning Power (CP) For Cleaning Cleaning Speed
    2200-2600 PSI
    2.2 – 2.5 GPM
    • Decks
    • Patios
    • Porches
    • Driveways
    • Sidewalks
    • Home Siding (aluminum or wood)
    Faster

    Frequent or Every Day Use Pressure Washer

    Cleaning Power (CP) For Cleaning Cleaning Speed
    200-3700 PSI
    2.6-3.2 GPM
    • Homes
    • Paint Preparation
    Fastest

    Quality of Parts Used on a Pressure Washer

    Cleaning and water pressure are not the only things you should look at when selecting a pressure washer. Another important consideration when selecting a pressure washer is the quality of the parts used and pressure washer ratings. Better quality parts will ensure that your pressure washer operates properly and lasts longer.

    There are two types of engines that power pressure washers.

    Side Valve (SV) Pressure Washer Engines

    SV pressure washer engines are small, easy to start, and reliable.

    Overhead Valve (OHV) Pressure Washer Engines

    OHV pressure washer engines provide longer engine life, reduced emissions and lower noise levels. These pressure washers also use less fuel, saving money in the long run. Cast-iron cylinder sleeves provide extra durability for longer life. Stainless steel construction for the wand protects against corrosion and ensures a longer life for your pressure washer.

    Special Features of Pressure Washers

    When selecting a pressure washer, look for special features that will add to the efficiency, effectiveness and durability of your pressure washer:

    • Automatic cool down system protects the pressure washer pump from overheating in case hot water is accidentally introduced into the pressure washer or if the pressure washer engine is left running when the spray nozzle is not in use.
    • Detergent injection system enables you to achieve better cleaning results by using cleaning detergents to help break down dirt and grime. Use only detergents made specifically for pressure washers.
    • Easy start pump technology uses a bypass valve to relieve pressure during start up.

    Q and A: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Pressure Washers

    • Q: What is PSI?
    • A: PSI refers to water pressure measured in pounds per square inch. Pressure determines how much force is applied to break down stubborn dirt and grime.
    • Q: What is GPM?
    • A: GPM is the water flow delivered to the pressure washer spray gun measured in gallons per minute. Flow determines how much water runs through the system and provides the muscle to break down dirt faster and remove it from the area.
    • Q: Can I use any pressure washer to clean any surface?
    • A: Yes, but different projects require different combinations of pressure and flow for the best results. Use the nozzles to control the pressure and flow for each project.
    • Q: Is the level of pressure most important in choosing a pressure washer?
    • A: No, both the water pressure and water flow are equally important. The pressure breaks down the dirt and the flow removes it from the area.
    • Q: Is it possible to use detergent with pressure washers?
    • A: Yes, the detergent injection system enables you to achieve better cleaning results by using cleaning detergents to help break down girt and grime. (Do not use chlorine bleach, as it voids the product warranty.)
    • Q: Do any of the pressure washers allow you to use any type of cleaning detergents?
    • A: No, only detergents that are specifically approved for pressure washer use are recommended. Using detergents that are not approved for pressure washer use voids the warranty, may damage the pressure washer and may not be environmentally sound. (Do not use chlorine bleach, as it voids the product warranty.)
      • Q: What is easy start pump technology?
      • A: A bypass valve used to relieve pressure during start up of your pressure washer and provides easy, low effort starting.
      • Q: Is an electric or gas-powered motor better for a pressure washer?
      • A: Gas-powered pressure washer engines provide more power, flexibility and cleaning speed than electric-powered models.
      • Q: Can I siphon water from a lake or holding tank to operate a pressure washer?
      • A: Not necessarily. Most pressure washers are not designed to be used in this manner. Lake water contains sediment and other materials that can clog the unit. Siphoning water from a holding tank with a machine not designed for siphoning will severely damage the pump. Siphoning requires a heavier pump complete with special fittings.
      • Q: Can I hook my cold water pressure washer to a hot water supply?
      • A: NEVER hook any pressure washer to a hot water supply. Doing so immediately voids the warranty and ultimately damages the pump.

      Other Supplies You May Need While Using a Pressure Washer

      • Pressure washer appropriate for the job at hand
      • Pressure washer accessories, such as cleaning detergents specifically designed for pressure washers
      • Brush attachment
      • Wand extensions
      • Pump saver
      • Pump oil
      • Garden hoses for extension
      • Power Plus Protection