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Pressure Washers | Summer 2005 Out Here Magazine

A pressure washer uses a gas or electric motor to power a pump that turns your garden hose into a power washer.

Put some power in your cleaning

By Noble Sprayberry

Photography courtesy of Briggs & Stratton

Dusty roads and a small fleet of vehicles left Eugene Zanot with a potentially time-consuming problem.

Cleaning his large horse trailer with a hose and bucket might take an hour, not to mention the time to wash two trucks and a car.

The solution wasn't difficult, though. He bought a pressure washer.

"We live out in the country and we have dirt roads out here," he says of his home in Reynoldsville, PA. "That's why we bought it."

Cleaning the trailer now requires only about 20 minutes and already Zanot is eyeing other jobs. He eventually plans to use the tool to degrease his tractor.

Most people buy a pressure washer for one project — cleaning vinyl siding, a driveway, or wood fence — but quickly learn of many uses, says Steve Kruger, marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton, a pressure washer manufacturer.

"Once they get one home, they almost start going out and looking for things to clean," Kruger says.

Pressure washers first gained popularity with professional painters searching for a fast, effective method to remove chipped or loose paint from exteriors of homes before painting.

A pressure washer uses a gas or electric motor to power a pump that turns your garden hose into a power washer. A pressure washer consists of three elements, according to Briggs & Stratton: an engine to generate power; a pump to force water supplied from a garden hose; and a nozzle to accelerate the water.

Prices for an entry-level electric pressure washer range from $129 to $199, with the more expensive models offering higher pressure and greater water flow, Kruger says. These models are ideal for small, infrequent projects, such as cleaning outdoor furniture or automobiles.

Powerful gas-powered pressure washers, which range in price from $269 to $899 for professional-quality models, are appropriate for frequent users and big jobs, such as cleaning a home's exterior.

Some other uses might surprise you, such as making quick work of jobs such as cleaning mini-blinds. Take the blinds outside, hang them from a clothesline or play set. Open the blinds and, keeping the spray wand at least 24 inches away, remove the grime.

Other things you can clean: indoor/outdoor carpeting, boats, arbors, swing sets, sidewalks, and garbage cans, to name just a few.

Many people initially worry about damaging the surface being cleaned, so always start with the pressure washer on a wide-fan setting and stand well away from the surface, Kruger advises. Move closer and adjust the nozzle to narrow the water stream until the proper result is achieved, he says.

"It almost starts becoming addictive," Kruger says. "It's like you can't wait to clean the next thing."

Noble Sprayberry is a freelance writer based in Dallas.