There are many uses around any house or business for a pressure washer, which makes this type of equipment a popular rental item. However, only a small percentage of the general users who rent have experience using a pressure washer.
It is important to remind rental customers that pressure washers produce a high-pressure stream from 1,000 to 6,000 lbs. psi. This force can penetrate numerous surfaces, including skin. Equally as important is that users treat the gun and wand assembly much like any other loaded weapon. Under no circumstances should it be pointed at a person or pet. Better yet, stress that the customer only point the gun assembly at the surface intended to be cleaned.
The manufacturers of pressure washers in your fleet know the equipment better than anyone. The user should read the manual before operation and the rental store should stress the following safety warnings included in the manual:
- Do not allow children to operate the pressure washer.
- Never repair a high-pressure hose. Replace it.
- Never repair leaking connections with sealant of any kind. Replace the o-ring or seal.
- Never connect a high-pressure hose to the nozzle extension.
- Keep the high-pressure hose connected to the pump and spray gun while the system is pressurized.
- Always point the spray gun in a safe direction and squeeze the spray gun trigger to release high pressure every time you stop the engine.
- Never aim the spray gun at people, animals or plants.
- Do not secure the spray gun in an open position.
- Do not leave the spray gun unattended while the machine is running.
- Never use a spray gun that does not have a trigger lock or trigger guard in place and in working order.
- Always be certain the spray gun, nozzles and accessories are correctly attached.
- Never fill the fuel tank while the pressure washer is hot or still running.
Users also should be aware of the following when using a pressure washer:
- Power lines. Those who operate a pressure washer outdoors also need to watch out for all electrical hazards that could be encountered — power lines, circuit boxes, telephone junction boxes and other outdoor fixtures. While the user may not necessarily be in personal danger, using water pumps outdoors could potentially soak and severely damage this kind of outdoor electrical equipment.
- Pressure release. The initial surge or kick from a pressure washer can catch a user off guard. When the trigger is pulled, the initial release of the pressure has the ability to cause users to lose their balance. When renting pressure washers, stress that the user never attempt to clean from a ladder. It is always best to clean from the ground. For out-of-reach areas, recommend using an extension wand.
- Protective wear. Protective eye wear and hearing protection is suggested by most manufacturers when operating a pressure washer. The high-pressure spray can cause loose debris to fly and cause damage to the operator or others in the immediate area. Manufacturers also suggest that protective clothing, such as gloves, is used in more industrial applications.
- Awareness. Manufacturers continually look for ways to make the general pressure washer user aware of safety tips while operating a pressure washer. Mi-T-M, for example, has developed labeling that incorporates quick response (QR) code technology, which allows end users to connect to a website via a smartphone with a QR code reader application, where they can view safety and operational videos. By developing caution and warning decals with QR code technology the user can view any type of video on the web that the manufacture has developed. Examples of videos available through the QR code technology on Mi-T-M equipment are:
- How to start a gasoline pressure washer.
- How to start a electric pressure washer.
- How to choose the right spray nozzle.
- How to use an extension wand.
- How to use a surface cleaner.
- How to properly clean a deck.
- How to properly clean house siding.
- How to properly use cleaning detergents.
- Warning decals. As required by UL 1776, the proper safety and warning decals must be affixed to the machine to assure the user will have reference for safety and operational purposes.
Just like most pieces of equipment, a fair amount of precaution needs to be used when operating a pressure washer. Making sure your customers take caution — reading and following warnings when operating these machines — is a No. 1 priority for a safe and successful rental experience.
Dana Schrack is vice president for Mi-T-M Corp., Peosta, Iowa. He can be reached at 800-367-6486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need more help?
Mi-T-M’s online support center at mitm.com offers help 24/7 with access to how-to videos, frequently asked questions, product tips and manuals, and an opportunity to submit questions.
SAFETY CORNER: Pressure washers
When it’s time to clean winter gunk off a deck or prep a house for repainting, renting a pressure washer can handle the job.
This type of equipment has so many uses that it can end up in the hands of all kinds of people, from experienced housepainters to the occasional-use homeowner. They’re easy to use, too, but that can be misleading.
As with many types of common rental equipment, pressure washers can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Below are some generic cautions and warnings provided by ARA Insurance, Kansas City, Mo., that rental stores should provide to customers:
- Read complete operating instructions thoroughly before using the equipment.
- Do not use equipment in the presence of flammable liquids; fumes can ignite and/or explode.
- Do not spray water on or near electrical components.
- Grip wand securely with both hands before turning machine on to prevent the wand from whipping or kicking back.
- Do not add fuel when the machine is operating; allow engine to cool for several minutes before refueling.
- Keep clear of nozzle and do not touch or direct discharge stream toward people; the high-pressure stream can pierce skin and underlying tissues.
- Do not operate machine without protective eyewear; high pressure spray can dislodge harmful particles from the cleaning surface.
- Do not cover machine or use in an enclosed space; use only in well ventilated areas.
- Do not run pump without water as pump damage will result.
- Never replace nozzles without first engaging the safety latch on the spray gun trigger.
- Do not use corrosive chemicals, solvents such as paint thinner or gasoline, or products containing chlorine, tri-sodium phosphate, ammonia or acids. Such compounds will damage the machine and the surface being cleaned.
These precautions apply to pressure washers in general. As with all types of equipment, make sure you provide the operating instructions and safety precautions for the specific unit you are renting. When renting an item to a customer, discuss the safety precautions when instructing him or her how to use the machine and send along the manuals as well.