How a Pressure Washer Works
Pressure washers were first developed in the 1950s, and are now used primarily as exterior cleaning tools. Basic residential models consist of four parts: An electric or gasoline motor, a water pump, a high pressure hose and a sprayer, which is usually in “trigger gun” style – a long metal tube with a pressure-sensitive grip handle at one end. Most washers have connectors for a standard garden hose, which acts as their water supply. The internal pump on will provide a set amount of gallons per minute – which cannot be altered – but almost all include the ability to change pressure by adjusting the unloader valve on the sprayer.
Some washers have nozzles which allow you to vary the spray pattern and intensity of the water – for example a flat fan shape, loose stream, or pinpoint jet. The smaller the stream of water, the more powerful it becomes; no matter the pattern type, however, water pressure near the tip of the nozzle is enough to strip away skin, so care must be taken with any pressure washing. Electric units can provide up to 2000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure from a garden hose, while gasoline units offer double that amount. It’s also possible to purchase models which contain small heaters, which produce hot water ideal for loosening dirt or grease.