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Keep the power in powerwashing — for you and the machine

September 19, 2010
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Before adding powerwashing to your list of services, it would be best (as with any service you may wish to offer) to get advice and training in the field.

Power indicates enhanced ability to clean, surely — but it also means increased ability to cause surface damage.

There are a few wrinkles involved in a cleaning system that traditionally doesn’t pick up after itself. (See “When it can’t go down the drain”.)

How it can work for you

What can we do with all that power? How about tackling the tough jobs such as blasting chewing gum off sidewalks, or grease from rough driveways?

Want to flush bird or spider droppings from your house siding? Can’t stand looking at all that caked mud on your bulldozer? House awnings and shutters caked with grime?

Want to get your yacht hull clean and free from crustaceans? Roof covered with moss and mildew?

Powerwashing can handle it!

As the work is done by water under pressure — 2,000 to 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi) — it is important to remember that it is the volume or mass of the water that forcibly loosens the soil. A low water flow, even under high pressure, is not as effective as one of greater volume; experts recommend three gallons per minute (GPM) or more.

As with most cleaning, hot water makes the unit more effective in removing greasy soils. Powerwashers using a self-contained heat source can heat water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, providing serious cleaning power.

How will you benefit?

The time and cost savings demanded by a industry operation come from buying a commercial-grade machine, equipping it with the proper accessories, and even setting it up in a vehicle that also transports water to the job site.

As you might expect, this leads to an expenditure of several thousands of dollars.

But, here’s what you get for the money:

  • A machine that will last for 7,500 hours rather than the 150 hours the light units offer.
  • Tools such as a hard surface washer (think of a rotary lawn mower base with moving jets underneath) that can clean more than 6,000 square feet of pavement an hour.
  • A 300-gallon fresh water tank that, at 3 GPM, will last more than 1.5 hours.
  • Hot, hot water that really cleans.
What about a truckmount?

The typical truckmounted carpet machine can be used to generate hot water at 1 to 2 GPM and at 1,200 to 1,500 psi — not in the big leagues, but still effective for small jobs, and especially for any power wash job requiring wastewater pickup. Several multi-jet tools are available for hard-surface cleaning, including flat-surface tools (the lawnmower look) that allow for vacuum pick-up.

Getting started

Powerwashing is a specialized branch of the cleaning industry. As with most cleaning, there are plenty of soiled surfaces to go around, and you can probably find work within your present client base.

Start by doing an Internet search on the subject by checking

Talk with suppliers and with others working in the field for ideas and equipment information.

With careful preparation and purchasing, powerwashing will strengthen your cash flow and your reputation.

Lynn E. Krafft is president, Krafft Cleaning Service, Watertown, NY.

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