Tuesday, September 3

New-to-Florida Guide to Pressure Washers

electric pressure washer on driveway dirt
I got the dreaded letter from my HOA that I was in violation of something new. This time, it was the driveway and sidewalks that were deemed dirty, so it was suggested that I pressure wash them. While I'm not a big fan of pressure washing houses or cars, as it can (I assume) create leaks or strip paint, I figured washing concrete was a DIY job I could handle. However, I needed to decide if a rental or a purchase was in order. 

I first thought rental. That would have cost me $75, assuming I would have gotten the pressure washer for a day. Since I have some issues with my hands, and it seems that there's lots of squeezing of triggers, I'd assume I would have wanted it for the full day. There's also the hassle of having to reserve it for the weekend, or else get the item after work and hope the sun doesn't set too fast. I had two weeks to comply with my HOA demands, so there was probably time, but I also decided to see which pressure washers I could buy for a reasonable amount of money. 

The Home Depot rental would have been a professional gas unit, but I wanted to see what I could get in electric. Obviously, the average homeowner does not need an industrial-strength pressure washer sitting around, especially a gas one that requires maintenance. There are all kinds of websites that claim to rate pressure washers, but I get the feeling that they are all just AI-created sites that take Amazon ratings and put them into paragraphs. The good thing is that those sites at least eliminate some of the cheap Chinese knockoff units. Granted, all the units are probably Chinese, but some that are sold seem to inflate numbers and use inferior fittings and pumps. In fact, I'd stick only with brands that seem to be real and that offer a 1 or 2-year warranty. These include AR, Sun Joe, Greenworks, Karcher, and Stanley. 

When you search on Amazon, there will be a lot of "Sponsored Links" to units that look quite a bit like the units named above, more impressive numbers, and about 20 5-star reviews. That's a clear sign that those are knockoffs. They might be made in the same factory in China, but I'd be careful with those. 

I had decided on either an AR or Karcher pressure washer at first, though the Karcher seemed too pricey for the numbers it put out. The Sun Joe I liked had more lower-star reviews. Then I read some more, and I talked myself out of and into several upgraded or downgraded versions. Here's the basics that I was looking for: around 2,000 PSI and around 1.5 gpm. If those two numbers are about that (and not inflated), the reviews seemed to indicate the unit would work to kill dirt on my driveway. 

After going back and forth on Amazon, I ended up finding a Stanley on Walmart (also on Amazon) that met my criteria and could be at my house in one day, which was important at this point, since the HOA letter was now about a week old. The two mega-companies are selling the unit for the same price, so it's more about which billionaire you want to support. The numbers on mine: 
2,150 PSI
1.4 GPM
25 Foot Soft Flexible Hose
35 Foot Power Cord
0°, 15°, 25° & 40° Nozzles
2-year warranty 
When I got the box, I could tell parts (pump, at least) were made by AR. That probably explains the better warranty. But would this electric pressure washer work on my Florida driveway and sidewalk? 

Yes and kind of. 

I tested the unit out with the 0° nozzle, and I could tell that it was powerful enough to take dirt off the sidewalk.I could also tell that this laser beam-type nozzle would take hours and hours of frustrating work to finish a driveway and sidewalk. It kind of made a bunch of squiggly lines of clean surrounded by lots of dirt. 

I then used the 15° nozzle, and it worked pretty well. Still, I could tell it would take several hours of work to get the job done, but at least this nozzle was more like a paintbrush than an erratic pen. 

I also tried the 25°, but it required me to get very close to work, which basically made it the 15° nozzle with me bent over more. 

Several hours later, I was done. I've read that the concrete scrubber attachments for these electric models don't work all that well, but I cannot confirm or deny that. What I can say is that for $150, or double the amount to rent a machine, I was able to buy a power washer that had enough pressure to do the job, eventually. 

If I find other projects around the house before the next driveway and sidewalk cleaning, that's a bonus, but I figure I'll clean the concrete once a year and make the purchase worthwhile before the warranty is up. This pressure washer, like many others, has a foam cannon for cars, so I might have to try that out, too. But mostly, I'm satisfied that it did the job it was supposed to do. 

One note, however, is that there is no lock on the handle, which means my hands got very tired until I wrapped a wire around it like I have for my old lawnmower. This is obviously not recommended by the manufacturer and could be dangerous, so I'm not telling YOU to do it, but if you have to squeeze a trigger for two hours, it will probably annoy you. 

This is probably the best unit I could get for a few reasons: 
It has a 2-year warranty, and even the ARs only have 1-year.
It uses the standard quick-connect attachments as opposed to proprietary, and I might get an attachment to take care of the sewer main line. 
It has enough power to get the job I wanted done without the need for gas power. 
It's electric, so no maintenance. And quieter than gas.
It's small enough to fit in the yard shed with my lawn mower. 

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