Power washers are powerful tools that are great for removing debris and cleaning large surfaces, like farm equipment or the sides of buildings. They come in electric and gas models and can eject water at 1,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) to 4,000 PSI (the strength a professional power washing company may use).
While power washing, it is easy to underestimate the power of the tool, which can cause injuries and damage your property if you do not exercise proper safety precautions. If you take on a power washing task by yourself, it’s important to know the risks involved and practice safety techniques to help reduce the risk of injuries.
Power Washing Risks
It is common for an injury from a strong spray to look minor when you really may need immediate medical attention. Always consult with a physician immediately following a seemingly minor power washing injury. There are chances that you may need to take antibiotics to prevent an infection, get a tetanus shot or have the area X-rayed to make sure there are no fractures.
The forceful spray from a power washer can throw objects into the air at a fast velocity, which can injure another person or damage your property. There is also a risk of electrocution with electric power washers if you do not follow the safety instructions. Additionally, gas-powered power washers, particularly the kind a professional power washing company may use, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if not used in a well-ventilated area.
Power Washing Safety Tips
Read the user manual. Always read and follow the instructions provided in your power washer’s owner’s manual.
Wear safety gear. Always wear safety goggles, long sleeves, pants and close-toed shoes when power washing. Your shoes should be insulated and have rubber soles. Proper safety gear will help prevent abrasions and blindness.
Point and shoot carefully. Never point a power washer at others, pets or yourself. The spray from a power washer can be strong enough to break bones or cause an injury that requires an amputation. Furthermore, do not attempt to move objects with the spray of water. Only press the trigger when you know with certainty where the washer’s nozzle faces.
Clear all objects. Before power washing, clear the area around the object you want to clean, making sure you get rid of even small rocks, nails and other minor debris. Seemingly innocent objects can cause as much damage as shrapnel or a bullet once projected by a power washer.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Use gas-powered power washers outdoors only or in spaces that are not enclosed. Additionally, avoid using a gas-powered machine near air intakes so others do not fall ill from the fumes.
Practice circuit breaker and outlet safety. Before power washing, always test the ground fault circuit interrupter (circuit breaker) to prevent electrocution or a loss of power. If you ever trip a circuit breaker while power washing, always hire a licensed electrician to inspect the washer for electrical problems before you use it again.
Use grounded plugs. Always ground your power washer and ensure that you plug it into a grounded receptacle. Always keep the grounding prong on the power washer’s grounding plug intact.
Be careful with extension cords. If you must use an extension cord with a power washer, make sure the cord does not lie in standing water in order to prevent electrocution. It is best to use heavy-duty extension cords specially designed to offer safety in wet environments. Additionally, keep all electrical cords away from the spray’s path and runoff water.
Keep away from children. Never let children operate or handle a power washer. If there are children or pets present when you power wash, make sure they are a safe distance away from you before operating the machine.
If you do not have experience using power washers or do not want to risk the hazards associated with power washing, hire the skills of a professional power washing company. Many power washing companies offer free estimates for the work you want done. Additionally, you may find that hiring a professional power washing company is less expensive than purchasing a power washer that you may use only once.