Can Pressure Washers Hurt You?

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The powerful spray of a pressure washer makes it both useful and potentially dangerous. It is easy to underestimate the risks, but inappropriate use can lead to cuts, deep wounds, infection, amputation or worse.

A pressure washer can cut through skin and cause an infection. Its spray is powerful enough to hurl objects around you. Electric pressure washers carry the risk of electric shock, and using gas models indoors might lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Dangers of Pressure Washers

Slippery surface. The area around you will be slippery and dangerous. Take care when moving the pressure washer around. It is easy to become preoccupied with what you are doing and slipping.

Falling on a wet surface can cause serious head injuries. Wear a helmet and other safety gear for protection.

Cuts and wounds. Pressure washer spray can cut through skin. Most likely it will be a minor, but this can lead to an infection and become more serious.

Carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a risk with any gas powered engine. Do not use a gas pressure washer in an enclosed area.

Electric shock. This is one of the biggest risks when using any electrical device. Electric pressure washers such as the Craftsman CMEPW1700 have built-in safety features, but you should always take precautions.

Hurling objects. Spray nozzles can kick up objects in and around it. These can hurt you and other people or animals nearby. The more powerful the pressure washer, the more force it can send stuff flying.

How to Safely Use a Pressure Washer

Read the manual. The first step is to read the manual. There are many kinds of pressure washers and work in different ways.

Your owner\s manual has instructions on assembly, operation and safety guidelines. Going through this is one of easiest and best ways to avoid injuries and mishandling.

Wear safety gear. A helmet, gloves, eye protection, thick shoes or boots and long sleeved shirts are ideal.

You should put on safety goggles to protect your eyes from the water spray and any flying debris. If you are using a gas pressure washer, consider hearing protection as the engine can get loud. This isn’t needed for electric pressure washers such as the PowRyte Electric Pressure Washer.

Long pants, long sleeved shirts and gloves offer the best protection against cuts. Your hands are the most prone to cuts and injuries so heavy duty gloves are a must.

Pants are also important to safeguard your legs. Shoes are fine, but steel toed boots are even better. You will need those boots if using a powerful spray nozzle.

Always inspect your pressure washer before using it. Check the connections, fitting, fuel level etc. If you are using an electric pressure washer:

  • Stop using if a circuit breaker trips. Have an electrician examine the pressure washer before using it again.
  • Do not use if the extension cord or power plug is damaged. Get a new extension cord if the current one is frayed.
  • Do not allow the cord to make contact with the water as you clean.

Any time you use an electrical deice near water, there is an inherent risk. Electric pressure washers have safety features to avoid this. But there is no such thing as 100% safe with these tools. You always have to be careful.

How to Prevent Pressure Washer Accidents

Use your pressure washer only as directed in the owner’s manual. Second, clear the area you are going to work on. There should be no people or pets. Remove any large objects the spraying water might send off flying.

Aim squarely at the surface to be cleaned. Do not point the nozzle at a person or animal. Do not aim it at any object unless you are going to clean it. The force that comes from a pressure washer can break objects and hurt people.

Use the right spray nozzles. Use green spray tips for general house and car cleaning. White nozzles are used for delicate surfaces such as windows. Yellow is for stripping old paint. Red is rarely used for home cleaning due to its force.

Turn the pressure washer off if you are stepping away. Even if it is for just a few minutes, do it. Engage the spray gun safety latch too.. When you’re done, turn the pressure washer off. Squeeze the spray gun trigger until all the pressure is gone.

Regular maintenance is a must for all pressure washers. Do not wait for the machine to get clogged before cleaning it. Forcing it to run until it is overwhelmed by dirt can cause damage. Worse, it makes the pressure washer dangerous to use.

Follow these simple guidelines and you should be fine. When handled properly, pressure washers provide a lot of benefits.

Are Pressure Washers Safe to Use?

Pressure washers are safe if you follow all safety guidelines. If you are new to pressure washers, it is even more important to make sure you understand all the safety guidelines.

Home and vehicle cleaning usually need 1500-4000 PSI. Anything above 1150 PSI poses a danger to people. Even at a lower PSI, there is the risk of slipping on a wet surface if you are not careful.

It is tempting to dismiss pressure washer risks because it is water. But there is a big difference between a pressure washer and a garden hose.

A pressure washer can strip paint from an object. If it can do that to paint, it can go through human skin. This is why it is important to wear safety gear to protect yourself.

Pressure Washer Safety Q & A

Should you wear a mask when pressure washing?

At the bare minimum you should wear safety goggles. If you are using yellow or red nozzles for heavy duty cleaning, wear a mask. The more powerful the pressure washer – and the higher the PSI- the more protection is needed.

Most home cleaning chores need only the green and white spray nozzles. These pose little danger if Check used properly so safety goggles will be fine. More heavily concentrated spray tips like yellow and red require more protection.

How long can I safely use a pressure washer?

Most electric pressure washers can run for 60 minutes continuously. Gas pressure washers last about 30 minutes.

Those are standard running times and assume normal conditions. Under extreme weather those run times will be shorter. Forcing a gas or electric pressure washer to run longer than it can will cause overheating.

There are two things you need to do:

  • Read the owner’s manual. It will tell you the safe temperature operating range. If it goes over that, it can lead to overheating or even engine damage.
  • If the engine feels too hot, turn it off for a few minutes.. Let it cool down. Do the same if you have an electric pressure washer.

What should I avoid when pressure washing?

  • Do not point the spray at anything other than what you are cleaning.
  • Do not pressure wash unless you are wearing safety gear.
  • Do not use a gas pressure washer in an enclosed environment.
  • Do not overload the pressure washer.

Can I pressure wash barefoot?

No. You must wear either boots or thick shoes. For one thing, being barefoot makes you vulnerable to slips on a wet surface. This can lead to a serious injury. Second, water coming out of the nozzle is powerful and can cut through skin. Bottom line: wear shoes or boots. Your feet need as much protection as your hands.

How far should I be when pressure washing?

Stand 8-10 feet away from the surface you want to clean. Aim the nozzle at the surface and turn the pressure washer on. Move closer to the surface slowly until the water removes the dirt. How close you need to get depends on how much dirt there is on the surface.