How to Be Safe When Working With an Electric Pressure Washer
Treat someone or something with respect, and you’ll be out of harm’s way. No, that’s not a threat, nor a line from a gangster movie. We are talking about safely handling a powerful machine, specifically a pressure washer.
A pressure washer is an effective cleaning tool at home. It can get rid of a lot of things, such as stubborn gunk on the BBQ grill, that slippery layer of moss on the patio, or oil stains in the garage or driveway. Unfortunately, it can also get rid of things that it’s not supposed to get rid of, like human body parts, if you’re not careful enough. You do like your fingers and toes, don’t you?
Before pulling out the big guns, it’s life-and-death critical to know what you’re dealing with here. We also think it’s important for you to know the two general types of pressure washers — electric and gas — and their main differences.
Types of Pressure Washers and their Differences
As we have touched on the two types of pressure washers, the biggest difference between the two is the power source. Electric pressure washers, well, need to be plugged into an electrical power source, while gas pressure washers have an engine that runs on fuel.
Generally, a gas pressure washer trumps an electric pressure washer across the board, but the latter is more compact, cheaper, and operates more quietly than the former. Therefore, if you need a pressure washer for common household cleaning, an electric pressure washer is the more logical choice.
For more information about the best electric power washers, the most important points can be found here.
How to Safely Use an Electric Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is not a toy gun, so someone careless should not be using it. The water coming out of these machines can seriously hurt people as they produce as much as 75 times more pressure than a typical garden hose. With all that being said, here are 5 things to keep in mind when using an electric power washer.
- Knowledge is Power
The great Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said that a war is won even before it’s begun. That certainly rings true when it comes to utilizing a powerful and potentially dangerous tool like a pressure washer.
How do you do that? Read the manual first before anything. One machine differs from another. Now, it’s understandable that reading a manual takes too much time and can be confusing. If it’s more convenient, do video searches or ask someone who has firsthand experience on pressure washers to show you how it’s done. In any case, you must completely understand the ins and outs of using a pressure washer.
Again, to be on the safe side, you may choose to buy a pressure washer that is easiest to use, even for newbies.
- Think About Possible Hazards
Each setting is different, but it’s critical to envision the possible dangers and try to control the risks beforehand. For example, are there obstructions in the area that could possibly trip your foot? Are there glass windows, electrical outlets, or vents nearby? Do I have GFCI outlets installed around the house? What if the pressure washer makes weird noises? I’m going to pressure wash my driveway, so should I ask someone to watch my back in case a vehicle passes by?
- Protect Yourself
Like taking part in a real war, you must wear protective gear to add another layer of security on top of your knowledge. Frankly, most of the accidents involving pressure washers can be averted if the operator is wearing Personal Protective Equipment. Here are some PPE must-haves when using an electric pressure washer:
- Goggles. Wearing goggles is a must, not just because you may accidentally spray your eyes. A more common occurrence is when the pressure washer blasts through something, perhaps a pebble or an acorn, and it ricochets back to your eyes.
- Sturdy working gloves, steel-toe working boots, and long pants. Skin lacerations are common injuries involving pressure washers. The washer jet lets out a stream of high-pressure water and it hits bare and unprotected skin. Electric pressure washers could easily top 2000 PSI, and 1,160 PSI is enough to drill a 0.1 inch thick by one inch squared dent in human skin. Ouch!
If you want to come out of a cleaning session in one piece, all you have to do is wear protective equipment.
- Never Leave the Pressure Washer Alone
Sometimes, we need to attend to certain things for a split second and then return to what we’re doing after. Most of the time, that’s okay, but when using a pressure washer, you shouldn’t do that. If you need to step away, turn the machine off and bring the safety latch into operation to prevent an accidental discharge. That’s why when you purchase a pressure washer, always choose a model with a safety feature such as a latch or hook. Aside from a safety latch, some models also have an anti-tipping technology for perfect balance and maneuverability.
- Spray wide and work your way up
Most pressure washer models come with at least four types of spray nozzle tips. For most cleaning chores, there is no need to use the 0-degree nozzle (colored red), and the 15-degree, yellow-tipped nozzle is seldom used either. For safety purposes, choose a nozzle with the widest angle first and see if it packs enough punch to clean the area. If not, try using the second-widest angle and work your way up until you find the right nozzle tip.
- Avoid using ladders
If you wish to pressure wash something with a higher elevation, never use a ladder. The reason is that the pressure washer could produce extreme kickback pressure, enough to knock you on your behind. If you’re using a ladder, it could seriously injure your back or head. When cleaning the roof or areas with a higher elevation, use an extended wand and be sure that your feets are firmly planted on the ground.
- No Alcohol or Drugs
There is a reason why DUI is a crime. You’re not at your best mentally when you’re drunk or high. Handling the machine is dangerous enough for a sober person, it would be thrice as risky when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Conclusion: How to Safely Use an Electric Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning, but if you’re not careful, it could also cause nasty injuries. So if you’re a newbie when it comes to pressure washing, know your unit first before operating it. Think about the possible accidents that could happen and do your best to eliminate those hazards beforehand.
Next, wear personal protective equipment from head to toe. Always be mindful of the things around you and never leave the pressure washer alone. If you have to attend to something, turn it off, and engage its lock system to avoid any accidental operation. Also, remember to use the widest nozzle tip first and work your way up if you see that the pressure it emits isn’t enough. When you’re cleaning something overhead, use an extended wand, and never use ladders. Last but not the least, be sure that you’re in a sober state when operating an electric pressure washer.
If you keep these things in mind, you will surely get the best out of an electric pressure washer without suffering injuries. When using a powerful machine like a pressure washer, safety is always the priority.