A question I am asked, maybe more than any other is “what pressure washer do I buy to run a power washing business”. To me it is somewhat of a loaded question because I could probably talk for hours on the possibilities, therefore the short answer is always “well it depends”. There are far too many variables to have a straight answer to this question. That said, I believe with conviction that the answer is never a consumer or prosumer model that is most often found in the big box stores. Disclaimer, I am not saying you cannot make money with one of those units so please do not jump my case if that’s what you have or if that’s maybe what you started with. Running a professional business should include being run by professional people using professional equipment.
As an industry, I truly believe that we all have a duty to raise the bar and constantly work at bringing our profession to a higher standard so that consumers recognize the capabilities that we have. Having and using professional equipment is a big part of that image that is being created. Even more importantly, besides yourself and/or your employees, your pressure washing equipment is the heart and soul of your business. Why risk your business on equipment that is not designed to be used in that capacity?
Start with asking yourself a few questions:
What are you going to be washing?
Not all surfaces or objects will require the same set up to clean. Washing a house requires a different set up then washing kitchen exhaust hood. So, it’s important to know what you’re planning on primarily cleaning. Too many people start with a machine then figure out what they will clean, figure out what you will clean and buy the right equipment for the job. You may have heard terms like soft washing, pressure washing, acid washing, down streaming, up streaming, two stepping, soda blasting. What do you need your machine to do? It’s a very important question.
Where will you be doing most of your washing?
Indoors, outdoors, is runoff a concern. This may dictate what you need in a power washer, if you are indoors you may need to consider an electric or propane powered machine. Outdoor washing, a gasoline or diesel powered machine is probably more desirable. If runoff is a big concern, using less water may be beneficial in controlling the wash water.
What is your water source?
Do you need to carry water in a holding tank? The machine you buy will need to be able to pull water from that tank if so. Not all machines pull from a static source very well. Will the machine need to be force fed with water? If so will the water source keep up with the water flow demand of your pump? Or maybe you need a machine that will pull water from a pond or river, what does that set up look like?
How will you be transporting and setting up your pressure washing equipment?
Truck, trailer, small enclosed area, space doesn’t matter, etc. If you are in a small van, you may be limited on space so a more compact unit will probably be called for, however on an open trailer a larger machine that pulls from your own water tank may be what you need. Will you be taking your machine on and off a trailer or in and out of a truck? If so you may need to consider the portability of wheels versus a skid mounted unit.
Will what you are cleaning require more water or more pressure?
There is a significant difference. Washing a vinyl siding home requires more water (GPM- Gallons Per Minute) and less pressure (PSI- Pounds per Square Inch). Using too much pressure can easily damage your customers home. Whereas if you are cleaning out sewer lines and drains you may want to consider the opposite set up, with higher pressure and a little less GPM.
These are just a few questions to figure out before purchasing a machine. Many more questions could and should be asked from the supplier you are purchasing your professional equipment from. These machines are not one size fits all, but planning and asking or being asked the right questions can get you set up to achieve optimal success. I suggest working with a professional if you are unsure of what you need.
In the next Trey’s Take, I will dive deeper into some of the different components that make up the professional pressure washer. I will start with pressure pump, the different types, how they work, and considerations in choosing what is right for you.
Keep in mind that choosing the right equipment is a very important decision in the success of your business. If you start researching, you will be amazed at the number of different projects that you can take on by having the right power washing equipment. That lends itself to being able to build an amazing business around the right professional equipment.