Pressure washing is a great way to get rid of hard-to-remove dirt, grime, mildew, and mold. It can make a commercial or residential building shine like new again. However, because of the immense pressure of the water, it can be a dangerous job to tackle on your own. In fact, in 2014, there were over 6,000 emergency room visits caused by pressure washers.
You should be aware of the following five dangers of do-it-yourself pressure washing.
- Potential for physical injuries. Many people underestimate the strength of a pressure washer. However, the water pressure from a pressure washer is almost 50 times stronger than the average garden hose. That type of pressure can cause serious physical injuries to feet and hands—it can even cut through some heavy duty boots. The pressure also makes the hose harder to control, which increases the risk of having a runaway hose that can cause serious injuries.
- Unique risk of electric shock. Pressure washers are inherently dangerous because of the mix of water and electricity. Many pressure washers have about 20 to 30 feet of power cable, which makes this cleaning tool particularly susceptible to cord kinking and cracking. Because you are working with water, it is especially important that water does not get into cracks in the cords. Electric shock or electric fires can result. Having a grounded power source eliminates a great deal of risk, but it cannot remove all risk of electric shock.
- Damage to surfaces. Pressure washing has a lot of power, which is what makes it such a valuable cleaning tool. However, that power can harm certain surfaces if it is not used correctly. Washing too close can cause permanent damage to wood, mortar, and paint. Paint can actually chip away and, if you have lead paint, hazardous lead distribution can result. In addition, if the hose is not positioned correctly, it can get underneath siding and damage insulation and wiring as well.
- Windows and shingles. Older windows may not be able to withstand the pressure associated with power washing. Some shingles, depending on the material, may also be compromised because of power washing as well. A professional who has power washing experience will be able to examine a particular part of your home or commercial building and let you know if power washing is a good option for you.
- Chemical exposure. Power washing often involves cleaning chemicals. If these chemicals get into a cut or puncture wound, they can cause serious health problems. In fact, the chemicals can lead to bacterial infections or other serious health hazards if the chemicals get directly into the bloodstream.
The easiest way to avoid these risks is to use a professional who has experience with pressure washing. Although you may want to save a few bucks to do it yourself, what you save on the task could cost you in personal injuries and property damage.