Consumer Reports: Staying safe while using a pressure washer

Thursday, October 19, 2017 05:22PM
Consumer Reports: Staying safe while using a pressure washer: Nydia Han reports during Action News at 4:30pm on October 19, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA - A pressure washer can make easy work of some tough cleaning jobs around your yard, if you know what to spray and how to spray it.

If you're not careful, you can damage your property and injure yourself. So here's some important advice from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports says before you start pressure washing with abandon, you should think before you spray.

"It's really easy to over do it with a pressure washer but you have to remember they can chip paint, dent wood and even etch stone," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

To keep it safe Consumer Reports says get rid of the zero degree nozzle.

"So we think zero degree nozzles pose a totally unnecessary risk so if you buy a pressure washer that comes with one we suggest throwing it out," said Paul.

And you might be tempted but Consumer Reports says never pressure wash your roof.

"It's not a great idea to use a pressure washer on your roof because it's dangerous. The kickback could cause a ladder to fall backwards. Plus, you end up doing more harm than good to the roofing shingles," said Paul.

Instead, spray the roof down with a fifty-fifty mix of bleach and water and let any moss die on its own.

Here's what you can you clean with a pressure washer: Wood and siding made of vinyl and fiber cement can typically hold up with pressure washing. But you should use caution with Aluminum siding.

"Aluminum siding can actually be easily dented so if you're going to try to pressure wash it start on the gentlest setting then work your way up," said Paul.

Cement and asphalt walkways and driveways can stand up to the power. For moldy mildew use lower pressure and some suds. To tackle grease stains you'll need a finer, more targeted stream.

You can pressure wash most decks, too. Start with a lower pressure nozzle to make sure you don't etch or mark the wood, but you might not even need to.

"Newer composite decking actually resists staining and mildew so you probably don't even need to clean them with a pressure washer. Generally a light scrubbing will do," said Paul.

The top pressure washer in Consumer Reports tests was the $500 dollar Cub Cadet model CC3224.

Testers found it's very powerful and effective at cleaning and removing stains.

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