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Power-washing Safely

  • Posted: 04.27.2021
man using power washer

It’s that time of year: As you clean up your yard and garden after the long winter, you may notice your home’s exterior or outbuildings need a cleanup, too. Using a power washer is generally the best way to remove winter grime.

Power-washer precautions
Water and electricity don’t mix safely, and for that reason, an electric-powered pressure washer can be a dangerous tool. The key to preventing problems is to plug your power washer cord into a tested ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle.

A GFCI monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit. If there is an irregularity of electrical flow, the power is cut off, preventing an electric shock. GFCIs are recommended anywhere water and electricity may meet—so every outdoor receptacle should be equipped with a GFCI.

GFCIs come in several types. One kind is a circuit breaker with a built-in GFCI that a qualified electrician can install in a home’s panel box. Others come in the form of a receptacle that fits into a standard outlet box. If your outdoor receptacles do not have GFCI protection, purchasing a portable one is a good solution.

Tip: Check the cord for nicks and cuts before plugging it into the outlet; if the cord is defective, plugging it into the GFCI won’t prevent all problems.

Other recommendations
Electric shock can occur if the pressure washer is not used properly and if safety instructions are not followed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers these additional pressure washer safety precautions:

  • Never use a gasoline powered washer in an enclosed space
  • Always test the GFCI before plugging in a pressure washer or any tool
  • Always plug a properly grounded pressure washer into a properly grounded receptacle
  • If an extension cord must be used, keep the pressure washer’s power cord connection out of any standing water, and use a heavy-duty extension cord with components rated for outdoor use
  • Keep both the power and extension cords as far away as possible from the item being washed and away from any water runoff
  • Always have a qualified electrician check the pressure washer for electrical problems after it has tripped a circuit breaker

There are different kinds of pressure washers, some that are powered with electricity and others powered by gas. No matter what kind you plan to use, know how to use it safely. Remember to read and follow all safety instructions in the owner’s manual that comes with the device, and learn more about safely using a pressure washer at Cleanup Expert.

Source: Safe Electricity