Contact Us

Contact us with general inquiries

9 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Pressure Washer

by Charlie
on January 29, 2016

Pressure washers are a major purchase, and you hope that they will last for many years. Because it is not an item that you purchase regularly, there are some things to consider when researching, selecting and buying pressure washers.

Hot Water Pressure Washers Clean Grease and Oils

Cold water pressure washers are great for cleaning off dirt. If the surface to be cleaned has oil or grease then a cold water pressure washer won’t clean well. It’s like washing a greasy plate in the sink. No matter how much soap you use, you’re just smearing around the grease. Add hot water, and it cuts through the grease and oil. The exact same thing happens in a pressure washer application. If oil or grease is present in any form, then you will need a hot water pressure washer. The fact is, almost everything comes cleaner when using hot water.

At Hotsy, we are contacted often by people who bought a cold water washer elsewhere and find it’s not doing the cleaning job they need. If they have grease or oil, they should have purchased a hot water pressure washer. Hotsy has over 80 models of cold water and hot water pressure washers. We’ll do a free cleaning profile & efficiency inspection to understand your cleaning requirements, and then recommend either a cold water or hot water pressure washer to meet your needs.

Pressure Washers Require Regular Maintenance

Pressure washers move water under intense pressure through the machine, which creates wear on equipment. Add to that the challenging environmental conditions these machines often operate in and maintenance becomes a necessity. Regular oil changes are required on the engine and the pump. Parts that wear, such as belts, nozzles, and hoses need replacement when worn, and can also become a safety hazard if not replaced prior to failure. Burner systems can become clogged if not serviced. Coils may need descaling if hard water is used. Pump seals and check valves will eventually need to be replaced. The frequency of maintenance and service correlates with the frequency the pressure washer is used.

Most companies that own pressure washers do not have the in-house expertise to service them. In selecting a pressure washer vendor, select a company with local service capability and on-site service at your facility. Check with other customers to see how quickly they respond. If you use your pressure washer regularly it will need minor maintenance 2-3 times per year. If you can’t do the maintenance yourselves, then buying from a retail store, a catalog company, an internet company, or anyone else without local on-site service would not be advisable.

Most Hotsy dealers have been servicing Hotsy machines for 20 – 30 years. Each has a story to tell of Hotsy machines that are 20 to 30 years old and still working fine due to proper installation and regular maintenance. Hotsy service technicians come to you, or you can bring your machine to the shop, if that’s convenient. Hotsy service trucks have an extensive parts inventory so that they can likely fix your pressure washer in one trip.

Comparison Between Pressure Washer Brands and Models

Pressure washer performance ratings can be baffling. The Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) has established a standard method of calculating performance ratings. CETA certified machines use this method, allowing you to make “apples to apples” comparisons between brands and models. When you see a rating of 3.8 GPM you will probably also find a CETA certification on the product literature. A 4 GPM rating is probably from a company that does not follow the CETA certification and they are just “rounding up” to sound more impressive. Look for the CETA label.

Certification to UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and CSA (Canadian Standards Association) safety standards is another way to compare machines. Not all pressure washers have such approvals. It’s legal to sell a pressure washer that is not certified to UL or CSA, but with today’s insurance rates and liability risk, it’s not a great idea to buy one.

The best way to compare pressure washers is with a demonstration of cleaning power. Your local Hotsy dealer can bring a machine to you, or if you visit the Hotsy shop you can try out several machines with various GPM (gallons per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch of pressure) ratings. Hotsy has more than 80 models to choose from, certified to UL and CSA safety standards and CETA performance ratings. Your local Hotsy Cleaning Consultant can help you select the best model for your cleaning application.

A Pressure Washer Cleaning Consultant Inspection

Will Reduce Your Risk of Buying the Wrong Type of Pressure Washer

What’s more important, the GPM of a pressure washer, or the PSI of a pressure washer? Is 2000 PSI at 4 GPM better than 4000 PSI at 2 GPM? The answer depends on your cleaning application, and that’s why you should have a local cleaning consultant inspect your application. When you have heavy soils to wash, GPM (gallons per minute) can be most important. When you have stuck-on grime, PSI (pounds per square inch of pressure) can be most important. If your pressure washer will have multiple users then the odds of damage to the machine increases.

Buying a more rugged machine and buying a machine with an automatic shutdown can reduce the risk of operator-caused damage to the machine. The number of hours you will use the pressure washer each week can impact the life, performance, and service intervals of the machine. You need a machine that matches your usage. If your machine is portable, the type of surface it’s used on will determine the type of wheels you need for easy maneuvering.

Your local Hotsy Cleaning Consultant will come to your facility, do a cleaning profile & efficiency inspection, and work together with you to recommend a pressure washer to meet your needs. It’s a free service whether or not you end up buying from Hotsy, so take advantage of Hotsy’s expertise.

Pressure Washer Accessories and Parts

Added to your pressure washer can speed cleaning, lower cleaning costs & reduce machine wear and tear

Machine options and accessories are a relatively minor cost that can have a huge impact on making your cleaning faster and less expensive, while also saving wear-and-tear on your pressure washer. For example, the vast majority of pressure washers use way too much detergent. The pressure washer detergent valve is usually opened all the way because the operators like to see lots of suds.

A fixed orifice system can be installed to release the concentration of detergent needed to achieve maximum cleaning results while using the minimum amount of detergent. This drastically reduces the amount of detergent you use, with zero impact on cleaning power. Often, detergent use is cut in half. A turbo nozzle can speed cleaning of caked-on grime by blasting away with a jackhammer effect. A water softener in an area with hard water will greatly reduce your detergent use and improve the finished look of the surfaces you are cleaning.

Adding an auto start/stop feature makes operating the pressure washer easier, plus it reduces risk and extends the life of your machine by automatically shutting it down when not in use. A hose reel will help keep your pressure hose from lying on the ground where it can absorb oil and grease or be damaged by vehicles driving over the hose. A longer pressure hose makes it faster and easier to clean larger areas. A surface cleaner added to your pressure washer will clean walkways, driveways, and parking areas much faster and more uniformly than you can clean with just a pressure washer alone.

Your Hotsy cleaning consultant will do a free cleaning survey & efficiency inspection to determine whether adding accessories may speed your cleaning, lower your cleaning costs and reduce machine wear-and-tear. Usually these improvements can be made to your existing pressure washer, and can be even more easily made if it’s a Hotsy.

A Correctly Sized Pressure Washer Coil

Provides the right pressure to your power washer and gives higher temperature water while using less energy

One of the first decisions you have to make when buying a hot water pressure washer is the style of coil. The coil is hundreds of feet of superior Schedule 80 ASTM pipe rolled in a cylindrical shape. While Hotsy uses Schedule 80 pipe, however it’s important to note not all manufacturers do. Some choose to use tubing or Schedule 40 coil. The coil is heated by a burner using oil, natural gas, or liquid propane for fuel. The burner heats the coil and the heated coil heats the water as it flows through the coil.

Your options are to buy a pressure washer with a horizontal lay-down coil, or buy one with an upright coil. The horizontal coil design typically is more compact. The coil is lying down, so the height of the pressure washer can be less (although the machine may be longer). An upright coil has the burner at the bottom of the coil instead of at the side as with a horizontal coil. Since heat rises, it rises up from the bottom of the vertical coil past all the coils and out the top. This is the most efficient coil for heating and energy usage, and produces hotter water, which cleans better.

Hotsy industrial pressure washers use vertical coils exclusively, both for energy efficiency and for higher water temperature. In addition, Hotsy has 11 different size coils for our 80 models of pressure washers. Many manufacturers have just one or two coil sizes. Hotsy coils can be matched to the amount of water to be pumped through them, for maximum temperature while using the least amount of fuel possible.

Different Pressure Washers Have Different Quality Components

And Those Differences Will Affect the Performance, Maintenance Cost and Life of Your Machine

If you are not going to use your pressure washer very often, it probably doesn’t matter which brand you buy. If you are going to use it for several hours a week, or in harsh conditions, then buying a high quality machine could easily be the best value. For example, if your pressure washer is being installed in a truck or on a trailer, then you need one with a welded frame. A pressure washer frame held together with nuts and bolts may not hold together going down the road. Lower quality hoses and guns will fail under heavy use.

Lower quality connectors, swivels, and quick disconnects will quickly leak. A direct drive pump and motor pressure washer running full-out at rated capacity is far more likely to fail than a belt-driven pump and motor operating at slower RPMs and well within their safety margin. The warranty offered on a machine is important, but equally important is whether the dealer and the manufacturer are likely to still be in business when you have a warranty claim. The best indication of machine quality may be the trade-in value of that brand. Some commercial pressure washers have to be scrapped in a year or two and some will run 30 years if maintained.

Visit your local Hotsy dealer and see the condition of the Hotsy machines that they have taken in on trade. Hotsy pressure washers hold their value because of the quality of components on Hotsy machines. Hotsy components are rated higher than required for their application, which means they hold up in even some of the most horrific conditions. If you can’t afford a new Hotsy, consider a refurbished Hotsy. You’ll get more years out of a refurbished Hotsy than out of some new pressure washers.

A Permanently Installed Stationary Pressure Washer

May be a better value than a portable pressure washer on wheels

When most people think of pressure washers they think of a machine that rolls around on wheels. Portable pressure washers are great because they can be rolled around an outdoor facility to clean equipment in place. They can also be easily loaded onto vehicles and moved to other facilities. A permanently installed stationary pressure washer can be an even better value in many applications.

First, the cost is often the same or less than for a portable machine. If there’s natural gas available, a stationary pressure washer can run on natural gas, which is more cost-effective and doesn’t require refueling the burner system. The pressure washer can be located in a shed or room, with piping or hose out to the wash area. This protects the pressure washer from weather, from damage, and from operator abuse. A stationary machine can be mounted on an equipment stand, with the detergent barrels or totes placed under the stand to conserve floor space. Hotsy manufacturers a full line of portable and stationary pressure washers.

Your Best Solution May Be a Pressure Washing System, Not Just a Pressure Washer

If you will be washing in specific locations at your facility, your best solution may be a pressure washing system. The pressure washer would be located in an equipment room or outside of the wash bay or wash areas. Pipe or hose would run to specific locations. Each location would have a hose and hose reel, a pressure washer gun and wand, and a control box for turning the pressure washer on or off. From each area, the operator can then pressure wash without having to go back to the machine. The hose can also be suspended in the air on a boom or on tracks so that it does not lie on the ground. This helps prevent vehicle damage to the hose.

Clear view plastic curtain walls can be used to restrict the spray from going outside the wash area. A water recycle system can process the water and the wash residue so that it can be legally discharged to the sewer. Applications for pressure washing systems with these multiple “drops” include vehicle wash bays, repair stations, food processing plants, kennels, fleet maintenance centers, and sites where you want two or more operators pressure washing at the same time. The system recommended may be as simple as a two-wand option or as complex as a system with multiple machines, remote controls, and numerous wash areas and cleaning stations.

Your Hotsy Cleaning Consultant will do a free Cleaning Survey & Efficiency Inspection to determine whether a pressure washing system may be a more cost-effective and efficient solution for your application than simply buying a pressure washer or multiple pressure washers. All the components of a pressure washing system work together to best meet your cleaning and safety needs while reducing operating costs.

Contact Hotsy Pressure Washers in Des Moines, Iowa

Now you are equipped to make a knowledgeable decision regarding your pressure washer purchase. Contact Hotsy Iowa for any other questions about your pressure washer.

Des Moines Office: (515) 378-8800

Cedar Rapids Office: (319) 378-8400