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View Full Version : Not exactly woodworking, but tips on buying Pressure Washer?



Deuce Lee
02-24-2012, 6:42 AM
I'm looking to drop $4-500 on a decent pressure washer.

Right now I got my sight set on a B&S Elite Series (http://www.amazon.com/Briggs-Stratton-020274-Gas-Powered-Pressure/dp/B0017W6FN6/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1330083048&sr=8-6) that's 3,000psi and 2.8gpm or a Simpson Megashot (http://www.amazon.com/Simpson-Megashot-MSH3125-S-Premium-Pressure/dp/B004MXKUCY/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1330083048&sr=8-8) that's 3,100psi and 2.5gpm.

Differences are the Simpson is about $70 more ($508 vs $440). The Simpson has a Brass Axial Cam pump vs. "Heavy duty" axial cam pump for the B&S. I'd like to know what the heck that means. Anyone know?

I'm tempted to get a CAT pump like Ridgid's (http://www.homedepot.com/buy/outdoors/outdoor-power-equipment/ridgid/3000-psi-26-gpm-cat-pump-pressure-washer-5599.html)but even those have just above average ratings. Nothing spectacular either.

Thoughts?

Jerome Hanby
02-24-2012, 8:18 AM
I was more worried about the engine than the pump, probably illustrates how much I know. But, at one time, Sam's Club was selling some brand of pressure washer that had a Honda engine. I don't know anything specifically about that machine, but my old Honda push mower just won't die. I've had it not start exactly one time on the first pull (then it took two pulls, but it had been sitting for most of a year).

shane lyall
02-24-2012, 9:16 AM
I have one with a Honda one it. Can't remember the model but it has been tough as nails for years. Best advice I can give is to blow it out and treat the pump EVERY year at the end of the season. Lowes has the stuff in a can. It will prevent ice and oil the pump. You just hook it to the input side and hit the button. Make sure you aren't in the line of fire of the output side when you do it. The oil/anti-freeze mix is ejected at mach 3 when the pump is full....DAMHIKT!

Craig McCormick
02-24-2012, 9:21 AM
I have one of the Husky brand with the Honda motor and a pot metal pump. The pump is junk and gave out after 1 1/2 years. Now I have a nice little Honda motor I dont need. I now rent a pressure washer at the local rental for $35.00.

AZCRAIG

Greg Portland
02-24-2012, 1:25 PM
I'm looking to drop $4-500 on a decent pressure washer.

Right now I got my sight set on a B&S Elite Series (http://www.amazon.com/Briggs-Stratton-020274-Gas-Powered-Pressure/dp/B0017W6FN6/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1330083048&sr=8-6) that's 3,000psi and 2.8gpm or a Simpson Megashot (http://www.amazon.com/Simpson-Megashot-MSH3125-S-Premium-Pressure/dp/B004MXKUCY/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1330083048&sr=8-8) that's 3,100psi and 2.5gpm.

Differences are the Simpson is about $70 more ($508 vs $440). The Simpson has a Brass Axial Cam pump vs. "Heavy duty" axial cam pump for the B&S. I'd like to know what the heck that means. Anyone know?

I'm tempted to get a CAT pump like Ridgid's (http://www.homedepot.com/buy/outdoors/outdoor-power-equipment/ridgid/3000-psi-26-gpm-cat-pump-pressure-washer-5599.html)but even those have just above average ratings. Nothing spectacular either.

Thoughts?
I would look @ the Maxus line of pressure washers; they are CH's better line of equipment. You should be able to get a good pump/engine combo for $500.

Greg Portland
02-24-2012, 1:28 PM
One more thing: make sure you've budgeted for various tips, wands, heads, etc. Some common items:
- loop for cleaning gutters
- extension for cleaning gutters
- driveway nozzle (a wide bar with multiple nozzles)
- car / RV brushes
- straight tip (for shooting a stream of water; good for high windows)
- various soaps

Rick Moyer
02-24-2012, 2:45 PM
My next pressure washer will have a Honda engine and a Cat pump, and also be a belt drive. But that will be well above your price range indicated.
The two main considerations in a pressure washer are the engine and the pump. Be sure to remove all water from the system before winter storage, or you could have something break (freeze).

I bought a Karcher with a A-R pump 10-12 years ago. It still works ok, but when I eventually upgrade it will be as above. Reason for the belt drive is it doesn't need much feed pressure at all to use. I may want to take it to our cabin where I could feed it from a water container (un-pressurized).

Here's a link to help you decide (and probably help spend money too!). No affiliation, just some reading material that might be helpful.
http://www.pressurewashersdirect.com/howtoselect.php
or if you really want some in-depth reading
http://www.the-power-washer-advisor.com/

Larry Browning
02-24-2012, 3:54 PM
Have you looked at Northern Tool yet? They have a pretty big selection of pressure washers at reasonable prices. Somebody mentioned that they were focused about the engine and not the pump. That is a huge mistake! The pump is the most important thing. The engine is somewhat important, but not nearly as important as the pump.

David Helm
02-24-2012, 5:34 PM
Don't know or care about brands. Just be aware that if you pressure wash your house you are forcing water into the structure (a bad idea) and if you pressure wash you composition roof you are dramatically shortening its lifespan.

Jerome Stanek
02-24-2012, 7:12 PM
I have the Simpson that I used for my business and would get another if that one went bad. I have had it for 22 years now.

Randy Alkins
02-24-2012, 7:42 PM
First is Honda GX engine 6.5hp or higher, next is pump, order of preference 1 Cat 2 General 3 A/R 4 Comet. Higher water gpms is better. (My machines use 5.5 gpm and are 13 hp electric start but I use them everyday as a power washing business.) Who ever puts unit together does not matter as long as they use good parts.

Larry Frank
02-24-2012, 8:08 PM
I have one with a Honda engine and it has run great for 5+ years. My brother had the same one and did not service it routinely and then asked if I had any problems with mine as his would not start.

Remember that you need to service it every year and when you put it away for winter. It takes the normal engine routine of changing oil, cleaning and whatever the manual says. In addition, I run the recommended stuff through the pump which lubricates it.

As with most of the tools discussed on this forum, this one can be very dangerous to you and to anything that you use it on. I can drill a hole through wood and through a part of your body.

Dave Lehnert
02-24-2012, 8:38 PM
Things I have learned about pressure washers.

The pumps on the cheaper pressure washers are only rated for a 50 hr life span.(read this on the web looking for replacement pumps. http://www.ppe-pressure-washer-parts.com/product/RMW2.2G24-EZ ) If you go this route, no reason to spend the extra money on a Honda engine. Only the more expensive units ($700 +) have good pumps ( CAT for example)
If you read reviews you will see a ton like "Worked great last fall, but won't work now this spring" this is because people do not use pump saver (antifreeze) over the winter. The water in the pump freezes and makes them useless.
I have a friend who works at a Lawn Equipment store. He says that is all they see in the spring.

I purchased a $300 gas unit. It works well because I only use it in the spring and fall for patio furniture cleaning and the like. About 4 hrs a year. But If I would have know the 50 hr pump life I am not sure I would have purchased it. With my use it should last 10-12 years but If a big project came up?????? Just think if you were using it at your job, it is only designed to last a week or 2.

Deuce Lee
02-24-2012, 9:55 PM
My next pressure washer will have a Honda engine and a Cat pump, and also be a belt drive. But that will be well above your price range indicated.
The two main considerations in a pressure washer are the engine and the pump. Be sure to remove all water from the system before winter storage, or you could have something break (freeze).

I bought a Karcher with a A-R pump 10-12 years ago. It still works ok, but when I eventually upgrade it will be as above. Reason for the belt drive is it doesn't need much feed pressure at all to use. I may want to take it to our cabin where I could feed it from a water container (un-pressurized).

Here's a link to help you decide (and probably help spend money too!). No affiliation, just some reading material that might be helpful.
http://www.pressurewashersdirect.com/howtoselect.php
or if you really want some in-depth reading
http://www.the-power-washer-advisor.com/

thanks for the links Rick...very good info...yeah i'd love a cat pump, but def expensive...and i'm not quite a prosumer, but more handy then the average guy and just don't want to spend $300 on a ok washer, then realize 2 yrs later that i would have gotten more work done if i wouldda spent an extra $150 or so...


First is Honda GX engine 6.5hp or higher, next is pump, order of preference 1 Cat 2 General 3 A/R 4 Comet. Higher water gpms is better. (My machines use 5.5 gpm and are 13 hp electric start but I use them everyday as a power washing business.) Who ever puts unit together does not matter as long as they use good parts.

That sounds very good Randy, probably a tad rich for my blood tho lol

i'd love to get one with a CAT pump, but it looks like these usually start at $700+, that's if you can even find one at that price...

Rick Moyer
02-24-2012, 11:30 PM
I wouldn't get hung up on a Cat pump per se, but I would try to get the best pump/engine combo for the money you are willing to spend. General and A-R pumps are fine, it really depends on the usage and the composition of the pump. Don't feel you need to spend $800 or more for a reasonable home usage of a pressure washer.I just wanted to give you some info. The one I have had now for about ten years or so still works ok and I didn't really take care of it at all (shame on me). It was about $800 I think. It's been mostly a home use washer and mainly for my triaxle dump truck. I don't really need to get a pro model the next time but I expect now to only ever buy one more. (sorry about the italics, I hit a key and don't know how to go back!)

Deuce Lee
02-25-2012, 6:45 AM
Have you looked at Northern Tool yet? They have a pretty big selection of pressure washers at reasonable prices. Somebody mentioned that they were focused about the engine and not the pump. That is a huge mistake! The pump is the most important thing. The engine is somewhat important, but not nearly as important as the pump.

Sorry Larry, no northern tool around central WI. Looks like for my budget, I probably won't be getting any nice pumps. :o


I have the Simpson that I used for my business and would get another if that one went bad. I have had it for 22 years now.

Sams club has Simpson. I've done some digging on them and it seems like they got a decent history making pressure washers. If I get one from sams, maybe I can buy their extended warranty for like $50 for an additional 3 yrs or something.


Things I have learned about pressure washers.

The pumps on the cheaper pressure washers are only rated for a 50 hr life span.(read this on the web looking for replacement pumps. http://www.ppe-pressure-washer-parts.com/product/RMW2.2G24-EZ ) If you go this route, no reason to spend the extra money on a Honda engine. Only the more expensive units ($700 +) have good pumps ( CAT for example)
If you read reviews you will see a ton like "Worked great last fall, but won't work now this spring" this is because people do not use pump saver (antifreeze) over the winter. The water in the pump freezes and makes them useless.
I have a friend who works at a Lawn Equipment store. He says that is all they see in the spring.

I purchased a $300 gas unit. It works well because I only use it in the spring and fall for patio furniture cleaning and the like. About 4 hrs a year. But If I would have know the 50 hr pump life I am not sure I would have purchased it. With my use it should last 10-12 years but If a big project came up?????? Just think if you were using it at your job, it is only designed to last a week or 2.

Thanks for the info Dave. I'm planning to use it about 5 hrs a year. You're right, i think most tools would last a LOT longer if the owner knew how to take care of it.

So right now between the briggs and simpson i mentioned in the first post, it's coming down to which engine since they both seem to have a cheaper pump.

I've been reading a lot online and it seems like for these lower line engines, honda's GC and brigg's 900 series, they're both consumer grade and neither of them stand out that much from the other. Thoughts??????????

Biff Johnson
02-25-2012, 11:36 AM
I have a lot of experience with pressure washers and designing and building professional wash platforms. The engine is really the least of your worries. Any Honda motor with some minimal maintenance will outlast the pressure washer. The weak link on any system is the pump and the killer is heat.

Try to by the best pump you can. The motor/pump combos you buy at the home centers are pretty much disposable units. Read the fine print and you will find the max. running time is very minimal. The best system in my opinion, even for home use, is one where the pump is driven off a belt rather than direct drive to the motor. I would definitely look for one that has a bypass valve so when you are off the trigger, cool water bypasses the pump so it doesn't just sit there and heat to an extreme. For the cat's meow find a pump that idles down when you let off the trigger.

Make sure you have an adequate water supply because poor supply will burn the pumps up. Also change the factory pump oil out with a quality synthetic. I think you will the pump lasts a lot longer. If I was in the market I would shop fore a used Landa pro model or equivalent before I spent the money on a new cheapy home center type.

Brian Elfert
02-25-2012, 4:06 PM
I bought a clearance model pressure washer cheap from Home Depot a number of years back when they had something like 40% off all clearance items. The normal price was around $700 and I paid a whole lot less.

The unit has a high end Honda engine with a pump that I don't recall the brand name of. My father borrowed it one time and we had an early cold snap. It wasn't winterized yet so the pump froze. The pump leaks a bit during use now, but it still pumps so I haven't bothered to try to fix it. I suspect a seal or o-ring needs replacement.

Larry Browning
02-26-2012, 12:30 PM
I learned the hard way. The low end PWs are a waste of good money. So unless you use a PW a lot, you might consider renting. Also have you considered shopping online for one? Northern Tool does a huge online business. They sometimes even run a free shipping promotion. Check it out.

Ron Natalie
02-27-2012, 9:12 AM
Almost every pressure washer out there is going to have plenty of pressure for most applications (even my little electric one). The one thing to watch for if you want to spray chemicals (cleaners, whatever) through the system is what the pump is made out of. The aluminum ones will not hold up to most caustic stuff (like soap).

Randy Alkins
02-27-2012, 12:18 PM
That is why you downstream chems. Get an injector.

Larry Browning
02-27-2012, 1:01 PM
it's coming down to which engine since they both seem to have a cheaper pump.

I've been reading a lot online and it seems like for these lower line engines, honda's GC and brigg's 900 series, they're both consumer grade and neither of them stand out that much from the other. Thoughts??????????

I cannot emphasize enough the warnings already mentioned about the cheap pumps, if you go with the cheap pump, don't even give the engine a second thought, it will outlast the pump 10 time over. I bought a cheap Karcher from Sam's for about $350 a few years back, when the pump died after about 15 minutes of use I tried to find a replacement pump only to discover that Karcher had a proprietary pump design and that the only pump that would work with that engine was another Karcher pump. The stupid thing is still sitting in my shed with a perfectly good Honda engine doing nothing. You want it? Just come and get it! I will gladly give it away to anyone that will take it. The engine has a vertical shaft, I thought about trying use it on a lawn mower, but that didn't work out either. I would have to replace the shaft, or maybe have it machined. Perfectly good engine that has not even run thru 1 tank of gas.
I finally got one from Northern Tool for around $500 on sale and have been very happy with it. I am sure it probably falls into the lower end of PW's, but It has served me pretty well for 2 seasons. I made sure it had a standard mount so that I could replace the pump when needed.

Mike Henderson
02-27-2012, 1:20 PM
Almost every pressure washer out there is going to have plenty of pressure for most applications (even my little electric one).
I second the statement "most". But I've had applications where I really needed the high pressure to get things off of a surface. I suppose the lower pressure ones might eventually work but it would make the job go really slow. So think about what you're going to use it for.

But given that, I have an electric pressure washer that works very well for most applications and it's convenient not to have to maintain an engine and store gas.

Mike

Larry Browning
02-27-2012, 3:33 PM
I second the statement "most". But I've had applications where I really needed the high pressure to get things off of a surface. I suppose the lower pressure ones might eventually work but it would make the job go really slow. So think about what you're going to use it for.

But given that, I have an electric pressure washer that works very well for most applications and it's convenient not to have to maintain an engine and store gas.

Mike
I mostly use mine to wash the siding on my house. The cheapo electric one I had was woefully inadequate. About the only thing that it worked ok for was to wash the car.

Deuce Lee
02-29-2012, 7:08 AM
I learned the hard way. The low end PWs are a waste of good money. So unless you use a PW a lot, you might consider renting. Also have you considered shopping online for one? Northern Tool does a huge online business. They sometimes even run a free shipping promotion. Check it out.


Very true Larry. After more researching, I'm starting to have a change of heart. I'm thinking about spending $6-700 now and get a nice washer. I opened a small discussion at a small engines forum to discuss the engines of three potential candidates. I can get a 10% off home depot coupon so the yamaha one will be closer to my budget. Here's the thread:


http://www.perr.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=8439&p=63480#p63480


Anyways, I could think about renting, and i think that one will be more cost effective if I can plan exactly when I'll use the PW and use it only when I rent. But if I start to think about the overall experience of having to go to the rental, put it in my trailer, haul it to my place, use it, haul it back. It starts to become a PITA. And if I want to use it randomly for smaller things, I wouldn't be able to.


Northern tool does have some good selection. That's a decent idea if they were running the free shipping. Without the free shipping, their prices are a tad higher then other places I can get a similar product. Anyways, I am starting to look at PW's with nicer pumps and a good engine.



Almost every pressure washer out there is going to have plenty of pressure for most applications (even my little electric one). The one thing to watch for if you want to spray chemicals (cleaners, whatever) through the system is what the pump is made out of. The aluminum ones will not hold up to most caustic stuff (like soap).


I'm going to have to disagree. Sure a electric PW (I have one BTW) can wash a deck, but it'll take you 4-8x longer compared to a nice 3,000psi, 3gpm washer that can be bought for $700. I'd rather not spend an hour washing when I can do it in 15 mins. The frustration will eat me inside out and p!ss the heck out of me.



That is why you downstream chems. Get an injector.


I'll have to look into that. thanks Randy.



I second the statement "most". But I've had applications where I really needed the high pressure to get things off of a surface. I suppose the lower pressure ones might eventually work but it would make the job go really slow. So think about what you're going to use it for.


But given that, I have an electric pressure washer that works very well for most applications and it's convenient not to have to maintain an engine and store gas.


Mike


I agree Mike. It's one of those things where when you really need that extra power, and you have it, you forget about the cost that you spent on it. You feel satisfied that the work is done. Like the old saying goes, and I do agree with it: You buy the better product even it cost more, you cry once. You buy a inadequate product at a cheaper price, you could cry everytime you really need it


I'm thinking that as long as I take good care of it, it should last a darn long time. I agree that the electric ones are easier to maintain. Funny you mention that cus I have been taking a peek at the AR series electric washers (http://www.ppe-pressure-washer-parts.com/product/AR630) too. Wow they are expensive ($700!). I wonder if they wash as well as they cost.



I mostly use mine to wash the siding on my house. The cheapo electric one I had was woefully inadequate. About the only thing that it worked ok for was to wash the car.


I concur.

Jason Roehl
02-29-2012, 8:18 AM
I think you're missing the point. Even a $700 PW probably won't last long. The engines are pretty much all solid, but they're small, so they vibrate. If they're hooked to a pump via direct drive, they'll trash the pump in pretty short order. That's why many have suggested renting. $50 gets you a large, belt-driven model for a day, and it's somebody else's maintenance headache.

And, you're really not taking advantage of a given PW's output unless you have an oscillating tip (a 0 tip that spins in a circular, rectangular or fan pattern). A decent one is about $100.

Brian Elfert
02-29-2012, 8:47 AM
Even if my pressure washer died today I would be ahead compared to renting. My unit is a $700 model that I have about $400 into due to buying at clearance. The local rental place wants $55 for four hours for their smallest pressure washer. I have used my unit at minimum a dozen times and probably more.

It looks like a belt drive pressure washer would cost about $1,500 minimum at Northern Tool.

Rick Moyer
02-29-2012, 10:18 AM
Deuce, I glanced over the thread you linked and just wanted to comment on one thing: you mentioned checking your water pressure for 3.5gpm. That is the output max pressure that washer puts out. I don't think you need as much inlet pressure as that. You would have to check the manual for said washer to be sure.

Deuce Lee
02-29-2012, 10:36 AM
I think you're missing the point. Even a $700 PW probably won't last long. The engines are pretty much all solid, but they're small, so they vibrate. If they're hooked to a pump via direct drive, they'll trash the pump in pretty short order. That's why many have suggested renting. $50 gets you a large, belt-driven model for a day, and it's somebody else's maintenance headache.

And, you're really not taking advantage of a given PW's output unless you have an oscillating tip (a 0 tip that spins in a circular, rectangular or fan pattern). A decent one is about $100.

Try $60 for four hours or $100 for a day. That's not even for a belt driven one. Not sure what you're meaning by "won't last long". If a typical $300 home owner's pump will last 2-3yrs, which is pretty $hitty already as it is, you'd expect a $700 model with a professional grade and rebuildable pump to last at least double that. I'd be p!ssed if it didn't last at least triple the home owner model.

honestly if these direct drive pressure washers have as bad of a failure rate as you say they do, what's the point of anyone buying them? seriously i think you're overblowing the integrity of these washers, especially the better motor ones with the better, rebuildable, pro pumps.

don't forget, the cost of something is not just what you paid for it. It's what you paid for it, minus the price when you sell it. Say I buy a $700 washer and i take good care of it and it's still good 5 years from now. I sell it for $500. That washer just costed me $40 a YEAR to own. I'm a true believer that yes, freak accidents happen and there are lemons out there, but most things break because of improper maintenance and usage, not because it's a bad product.

Chris Padilla
05-04-2012, 11:56 AM
Deuce,

What did you end up doing? I just did a search on "pressure washer" because I'm officially in the market now. I like what I see at Northern Tool but the ~$200 to ship me the unit has my insides all twisted up. The closest store to me is in Kansas. :(

Matt Meiser
05-04-2012, 12:49 PM
I was really close to ordering a Northern then went to my John Deere dealer and ended up with a really nice machine with local support for LESS money than the NT one shipped would have run.

Chris Padilla
05-04-2012, 1:43 PM
What kind of engine and pump is on the Deere, Matt? What did you pay? Is it a John Deere brand? I do have some local dealers....

Matt Meiser
05-04-2012, 1:55 PM
What kind of engine and pump is on the Deere, Matt? What did you pay? Is it a John Deere brand? I do have some local dealers....


The one I got is available with a Subaru or a Honda. Its $50 extra for a Honda and my dealer has had good luck long term with the Subaru so that's what they keep in stock. They don't have anything against Honda, just that its more. This is what I got: http://www.deere.com/wps/dcom/en_US/products/equipment/home_and_workshop_products/pressure_washers/premium_series_cold_water/premium_medium_duty_3000_psi_7_hp_211cc/premium_medium_duty_3000_psi_7_hp_211cc.page?

I never did check what make the pump is. He said Italian so probably Comet. The only issues they've seen with pumps over several years is when people leave them with water in the cold (including the dealer owner's own.) They've put rebuild kits in a few older ones used heavily.

This line is "made" by Mi-T-M (http://www.mitm.com) in Iowa. Made meaning they put an Italian pump on a Japanese engine and bolt it to a ???? frame in a box with other parts of various origin. Which is exactly what NT does as well.

I think the NT unit was $50 less, but over $100 for shipping. Even if the Deere had been slightly more total I still would have gone with it because of the support and I trust what they tell me. They haven't led me astray from the first John Deere toy I got from them at age 6 or so up to the slightly bigger, slightly more expensive toy I took delivery of this week. :D

Greg Portland
05-04-2012, 2:03 PM
A friend of mine found a low-hours Honda GX engine and a bought a new Cat pump. It was an easy job to put these together and he ended up with a better machine for less money. You could go either the direct-drive or pulley route with this method. Something to consider...

Kevin Gregoire
05-09-2012, 12:06 AM
i had bought a craftsman and it was the stupidest designed thing ever! the hose attachment was way under the motor
that is mounted on the pull cart so you had to kneel down to screw the hose on. why they couldnt put that nozzle up
top or on side?
plus i needed to pull the trigger so the pressure was off and then pull the rope to start the thing and that was a major
pita. but that machine was a good fifteen years ago i bought it so im sure stuff is different now?

Chris Padilla
05-09-2012, 12:19 PM
I ended up purchasing from Northern Tool. They just had everything I wanted in terms of the Honda engine and Cat pump plus accessories. When I stepped back from the 4000 psi/3.5 gpm monster they offered and stepped back once more from the 2nd in line, I found the 3rd best one (3000 psi, 2.5 gpm) to be the one. The shipping on it was $60 vs. $160 for the monster and next in line. After I loaded it up with accessories, the shipping hit almost $100 but it was all still worth it in my eyes (no tax either). I chatted with a John Deere outfit and they just didn't have everything I wanted and in stock and weren't sure when they'd get it, blah, blah, didn't get a warm fuzzy from them so NT got my money. As it turned out, I was going to get hit with ~$100 shipping or ~$100 in tax so with NT, I got what I wanted. QED