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830 Cherry Street
PH: (800) 287-8306
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Chico, CA 95928
(530) 893-2125
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FAX: (530) 893-1035

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Pressure Washer Information

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Landa pressure washers
Landa PGHW shown in action.

How a Pressure Washer Works

The Pressure:
Modern day pressure washers use a triplex ceramic plunger pump to deliver a constant volume of water.  These pumps will deliver the same amount of water with no pressure as they do with their maximum rated pressure.  The pumps themselves do not "create" pressure, however they can tolerate very high pressures.  The pressure is actually created by the restriction of a high pressure spray nozzle at the end of the wand.  The high pressure nozzle has an orifice that creates higher pressure as more water is pushed through it.  A chart is available to determine this relationship.

Trigger Gun Control:    Giant Trigger Gun for High Pressure Washers  

Early pressure washers had no trigger and delivered high pressure water as long as the machine was on.  The trigger gun was added to increase the safety for the pressure washer.  However, since a plunger pump delivers a constant volume of water, an unloader must be used to redirect the water.  This water is redirected (or bypassed) back to the inlet of the pump.  The water continuously circulates through the pump until the trigger is pulled or the machine is shut off.  As the water circulates, it will heat up.  A pressure washer should not be left on without the trigger pulled for more than 3-5 minutes.

Hot Water:
Hot water pressure washers use diesel, kerosene, propane, or natural gas to continuously heat the water.  The water is heated after the water is pressurized, which keeps the pump cool.  Hot water pressure washers have a "Heat Rise" of between 130°F and 150°F. The "Heat Rise" is the amount of temperature that a pressure washer can add to the incoming water.  This means that pressure washers can have heat outputs of about 180°F to 200°F.  As long as water is flowing through the heat chamber, a properly tuned burner system will stay on continuously.  However, if the trigger is released, the burner system must be turned off.  This is done with a "flow sensing" switch, by turning off power to the fuel solenoid.  The "flow sensing" switch can be an actual flow switch, a pressure switch, or a vacuum switch.

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How to Choose a Pressure Washer

How do you know which Pressure Washer is right for the job you are doing?  If you are in the market for a professional industrial Pressure Washer help is just a phone call away. With combined experience of over one-hundred years, our staff has the experience to help you.

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Here are some questions to consider:
Cold or Hot Water?

Cold Water:
Cold water pressure washers are great for cleaning dirt from most any surface: concrete, asphalt, decks, siding, masonry etc. 

However, when it comes to cleaning surfaces that have greasy, oily or sticky substances on them, cold water pressure washers just cannot do the job.

Hot Water:
For general cleaning, cold water Pressure Washers do the task. But if you have
grease, oil or sticky materials (such as product labels), then hot water Pressure Washers are what you need to use if you want to avoid using chemicals or lots of extra hard labor.

Hot water pressure washers also
save time over cold water pressure washers - so if time is a consideration - choose a hot water pressure washer.

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Belt Drive or Direct Drive Pumps?

Belt Drive:
  • Industrial - Heavy Use
  • The belt connecting the engine or motor with the high-pressure pump dissipates the heat and vibration, minimizing the wear and thus repair.
  • The reduced rpm demand also extends the life of the pump. With proper maintenance, Belt-Drive Machines should last 10+ years
  • More expensive than Direct-Drive models.
Direct Drive:
  • Commercial - Moderate Use
  • The pump is directly coupled to the engine causing the pump to spin twice as fast as the belt-drive models. This causes heavy vibration and high heat which can cause the pumps to melt onto the drive shafts.
  • With proper maintenance, Belt-Drive Machines should last 7 years.
  • Less expensive than Belt-Drive models.
Gas or Electric Engine?

Gas (Compared to Electric):
  • Models availble rated higher than 3,000 psi
  • More mobile since gas machines do not require electric outlet
  • Less time to clean projects
  • Because of fumes - must be used out-doors
  • A Lot noisier
  • Engines are currently rated in Cubic Centimeters (CCs). They used to be rated in horsepower (hp). The higher the CCs (or hp) the more powerful the machine.
Cold Water Gas Pressure Washers
Hot Water Gas Pressure Washers

Electric (Compared to Gas):
  • Models available 3,000 psi and under
  • Less expensive
  • Generally smaller and lighter
  • Requires Electric Outlet
  • Low fumes if burner uses Liquid Propane (LP) or Natural Gas - so can be stacked for use in-doors.
  • If All Electric there will b e no fumes so can be used in unventilated spaces.
  • Less noise
  • Electric motors are rated in amperage (amp). The higher the amps the more powerful the machine.
Cold Water Electric Pressure Washers
Hot Water Electric Pressure Washers
Pressure Washer

Definition of gpm, psi and cu Measurements/Ratings
GPM: (gallons per minute)
  • Indicates how much water will flow through your pressure washer.
  • The higher flow rate (gpm), will cut down on your cleaning time.
PSI: (pounds per square inch)
  • Indicates the amount of pressure the pressure washer will create if concentrated on one square inch of surface.
  • The greater the psi, the better the cleaning efficiency.
CU: (cleaning units)
  • Calculated by multiplying psi by gpm
  • The number is useful for comparing models. The higher number of cleaning units, the more power your pressure washer has.
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The Difference between a
Hot Water Pressure Washer and a Steam Cleaner.

Hot Water Pressure Washer:
A hot water pressure washer produces water that is between 1000psi and 5000psi and is approximately 200°F hot.  These machines are very good at cleaning dirty and greasy equipment.  Since the water is pressurized, it will not turn to steam even above the 212°F "normal" boiling temperature of water.

Steam Cleaner:
A steam cleaner produces actual steam.  They heat 300psi water to about 300°F and use an expanding cone nozzle.  These units are usually only used for applications where either sterilization is required or a super sticky substance needs to be melted off.  A steam cleaner is generally more dangerous to use and requires a more skilled operator.  

Almost all
modern day steam cleaners are actually combination units.  This means that they can be used as either a Hot Pressure Washer or a Steam Cleaner by changing a few settings and the nozzle.

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Common Pressure Washer Problems

Below is a list of common pressure washer problems and their most likely causes.  
This list does not constitute all problems with pressure washers and their solutions.  

Always take Safety Precautions!
  • Disconnect electricity
  • Never block a high pressure leak or nozzle with any part of your body
If your problem is not listed below or you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.  
Pressure Washer
Probable Cause(s)
Burner won't come on
1. Burner Transformer is no longer functioning.
2. Tip is too big and is not creating enough pressure for a pressure switch.
3. Tip is too small or clogged and not allowing enough flow for a flow or vacuum switch.
4. Temperature or flow sensing switch is malfunctioning.
5. Fuel Solenoid is not operational.
6. Pump or Unloader is bypassing water.
Burner stays on
1. Pressure switch or Fuel Solenoid failed in the on position.
No Water Flowing
1. No Power.
2. Gun, Nozzle, or Hot Water Coil plugged.
3. Unloader Malfunctioning.
4. Pump sat too long with no water. (Pressurize the inlet to try and correct.)
Low pressure
1. Tip is too big/worn.
2. Pump inlet has an air leak
3. Unloader is bypassing water.
4. Pump is bypassing water.
5. Heating Coil scaled up and restricting flow.
6. Too many hose repairs or pipe too small for flow.
Surging pressure
1. Tip is slightly plugged.
2. Water inlet is plugged or has air leak.
3. Malfunctioning unloader.
4. Heating Coil scaled up and restricting flow.
1. Plugged or malfunctioning check valves.
2. Cracked plungers.
3. Malfunctioning unloader.
Water in oil
1. Plunger rod oil seals no good.
2. Cracked plungers.
Water dripping from
behind pump manifold
1. Pump needs to be repacked.

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Indusrrial Equipment is a Member of CETA - Cleaning and Equipment Trade Association Member of
CETA - Cleaning Equipment 
Trade Association
Industiral Equipment is a Member of Butte County Farm Bureau Member of
Butte County Farm Bureau
Industrial Equipment is a Clean Water Business Partner in the Keep Chico Clean program.  Clean Water Business Partner in the
Keep Chico Clean program. 
Industrial Equipment is a Partner in Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers and Protect Your Waters program for the US Fish & Wildlife Service Partners in Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers and
Protect Your Waters
program for
US Fish & Wildlife Service
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