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What's Your Pressure? A few things you should consider before you choose a pressure washer By Daniel Leiss inding the right pressure washer for the job isn't as easy as it sounds. If you choose an underpowered product, the results will be disappointing. Going with an oversized unit adds inconvenience and extra cost. Not to mention, you risk damaging property. So how does a person determine what type of pressure washer is needed? Education is the only answer. It takes an understanding of the machine, the application and the cleaning process itself to make a proper selection. F HOT OR COLD? As with any learning process, it's best to start with the basics. In the case of pressure washers, this means figuring out whether a hot- or cold-water unit is needed. Cold pressure washers are compact and economical, and they'll do the trick for a large number of jobs. Cold-water units are best at washing away dirt and mud. Where cold water falls short, however, is removing grease or grime (dirt that is ingrained or clinging to a surface). A cold pressure washer may push these substances around, but it won't produce a clean surface. When dealing with grease, grime and oil, a hot pressure washer is a better choice. That's because hot water actually cuts through grease, loosening it from the surface. Once the bond between the grease and the surface has been broken, it can then be washed away. Also, remember that the performance of either a hot or cold pressure washer can be enhanced by using cleaning chemicals. There are a variety of detergents available for use with pressure washers, and using the right one can help the cleaning process go much more smoothly. 36 • June 2013 APC POWER PREFERENCE Both hot and cold pressure washers are available with electric motors or gaspowered engines. This decision is largely based on where the machine will be used. If it will be operated outdoors without adequate electrical sources nearby, then a gas-powered unit is the best bet. Otherwise, many people prefer electric motors for their cost efficiency, low maintenance and quiet operation. Keep in mind that many of the higherpowered electric pressure washers require a 230-volt, three-phase power source, which isn't readily available in many locations.