August 23


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Are Pressure Washers Dangerous?

dangers of pressure washers


Pressure washers can be dangerous if used irresponsibly. However, once you understand how they work you can use them with confidence.

Are Pressure Washers Dangerous?

Pressure washers take complex cleaning tasks and make them much simpler, in part because you use high-pressure sprays of water to eliminate built-on dirt, grime, and other debris. However, because of the very nature of pressure washers and how they work, it is possible to be put in danger if you’re not careful.

If you read the user manual of the pressure washer you purchase, the first thing you’ll notice is directions on the safety precautions you must take before using your washer, and it’s essential to pay attention to every one of them.

Why Is Pressure Washing So Dangerous?

Simply put, pressure washing can be dangerous because of the water is expelled at high velocity on a small area. There are two main types of pressure washers: consumer models, which typically reach 2800 PSI (pounds per square inch), and commercial models, which can reach up to 4000 PSI and even higher. This is more pressure than many people realize, and it has the potential to cause damage.

dangers of pressure washers

Protective clothing and accessories when you pressure-wash something include long pants, shoes that are enclosed (no sandals or flip flops), and eye goggles. It's also recommended that you never use your pressure washer on any living thing, including people, pets, and even plants. Why? Because the chances of injury and harm are just too great, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

Some people experience injuries when using a pressure washer because they buy one that has a PSI number that is too high for their particular needs. If you’re just going to be cleaning your vehicle, a boat, or your windows, you’re not going to need a pressure washer with 3000 PSI.

And while it is tempting to rush out and buy the pressure washer with the strongest PSI, this is simply not a smart thing to do. Instead, always check with the manufacturer to determine what types of jobs are accommodated with a particular pressure washer, and don’t use the washer on anything you’re not supposed to use it on.

What Types of Damage Might Occur?

pressure washer windows

If you’re using a pressure washer with a PSI number that is too high, here are some things that can happen:

  • Shredded window screens
  • Loose brickwork from cut mortar
  • Damaged seals on windows, which can cause water damage
  • Stripped paint
  • Loose or damaged vinyl siding

And let’s not forget injuries to your person. When you ask yourself, are pressure washers dangerous, the answer often includes injuries to yourself, a loved one, or even a pet.

Each year, thousands of people are injured when using pressure washers, and there are even a few deaths attributed to the task as well. Fortunately, most of these injuries are very easy to avoid, and preventing those injuries is always a lot better than treating the injuries after they occur.

When using a pressure washer that is too strong, almost any material could possibly be damaged, and these include the following:

  • Concrete. Pressure washing can cause lines, pitting, and some serious surface deterioration.
  • Vinyl siding. If you have vinyl siding and it is already damaged or loose, it’s best to replace the siding before you pressure-wash it.
  • Painted surfaces. Pressure washers can easily remove paint from objects. Unless this is your intention in the first place, you should avoid pressure-washing any painted surface.
  • Brick and pavers. Pressure washers can ruin the mortar in between bricks and the sand in between your paving stones. If this is what you need to wash, let the professionals do it.
  • Wood. Wood can splinter with the wrong pressure washer. You should also never pressure-wash your hardwood floors because the water can seep underneath and cause problems.

How to Avoid Injuries

pressure washer injury

The best way to avoid dangerous situations when using a pressure washer is to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most homeowners will find they simply don't need a super-strong pressure washer to do the jobs they need done. If you use a nozzle, start with a wider one until you’re sure that it won’t cause any damages, then work your way up to a stronger (narrower) one only if you need to do this.

Ideally, you’ll never get closer than six inches away from the object you’re cleaning. Of course, keep in mind that the longer you use the pressure washer on a particular object, the more potential damage could occur. If you’re careful before you get started, your experience with your pressure washer should be a safe one every time.

In Summary

The higher the PSI the more powerful and potentially damaging the pressure washer. Always patch test before using on a surface on an inconspicuous area.  In the worst case scenario if there is damage it won't be slap bang in the middle of your patio. 

Furthermore, always wear protective gear and treat your pressure washer the way you would a chainsaw - anything it touches, it could severely damage. 

Used carefully and with respect, pressure washers are safe to use and can bring new life to cleaning up around the home and garden. 

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