Yes, you can run hot water through a pressure washer. However, there are some important factors to consider before doing so. In this blog post, we will walk through everything you need to know about running hot water through a pressure washer, including how it works, the benefits and drawbacks, what to watch out for, and best practices.
How Does Running Hot Water Through a Pressure Washer Work?
A pressure washer works by taking water from a source, like a garden hose, and runs it through a pump to increase the water pressure. The high-pressure water is then ejected out of a nozzle to clean surfaces.
When you run hot water through a pressure washer, the source of the hot water must be able to sustain a high flow rate. This is because pressure washers require a high volume of water to operate properly. The hot water source must also be able to provide water that is hot enough to deliver effective cleaning, which is usually in the range of 130-140°F at minimum.
Some pressure washers have a built-in heating element that can heat up cold water from your hose to the optimal cleaning temperature before sending it through the pump. However, not all models have this capability. If your pressure washer does not have an internal heating element, you would need to supply water that is already hot.
Benefits of Using Hot Water in a Pressure Washer
There are a few key benefits to running hot water through a pressure washer:
- Improved cleaning ability – Hot water is better able to dissolve and lift away dirt, grease, oil and other grime from surfaces. The heat helps break down tough deposits. This means you can get surfaces cleaner with hot water versus cold.
- Faster cleaning – With the improved cleaning ability of hot water, you can clean surfaces faster compared to using cold water. The heat immediately starts breaking down deposits upon contact.
- Effective for sanitization – Hot water can help sanitize surfaces and kill germs more effectively than cold water. This makes hot water pressure washing ideal for food prep areas, bathroom surfaces, patios and decks, and other areas where sanitization is important.
- Works better in cold weather – Hot water can help a pressure washer work better in colder temperatures where cold water may lead to the pump freezing. The heat makes sure the pressure washer components stay thawed.
- Better for the environment – Using hot water allows you to use less chemicals and detergents to clean surfaces. The heat does a lot of the work in breaking down deposits quickly.
Drawbacks of Using Hot Water in Pressure Washers
Despite the benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind:
- Equipment compatibility – Not all pressure washers are designed to handle hot water, especially at very high temperatures. Using hot water in an incompatible model could damage components.
- Scalding hazard – Hot water coming out of a pressure washer at high pressure can lead to serious scalding if mishandled. Appropriate protective equipment should be worn.
- Increased risk of mineral deposits – Hard water with high mineral content can leave behind calcium and limescale deposits in a pressure washer when heated. This buildup needs to be cleaned out.
- Energy usage – Heating up significant volumes of water requires a lot of energy. This can drive up operational costs.
- Added complexity – Introducing hot water requires managing the water heating system in addition to the pressure washer. This makes operation less straightforward.
What to Look for in a Pressure Washer for Hot Water Use
If you do want to use hot water with your pressure washer, there are some key features to look for:
- Onboard heating element – Units with built-in heating elements are best suited for hot water use. This ensures the unit is designed to handle it.
- Thermal relief valve – This safety valve helps prevent overpressurization in the heating system by releasing excess heat. Overheating can damage components.
- Bypass mode – Allows you to run cold water through the unit even when the heating element is on for added versatility.
- Insulated water components – Insulation around hoses, fittings and pipes maintains the heat and improves efficiency.
- Temperature controls – Allow you to set your desired water temperature for optimized cleaning.
- Detergent injection system – Many units have detergent tanks and injectors to automatically mix in chemicals.
Best Practices for Running Hot Water in Pressure Washers
To safely and effectively use hot water in a pressure washer, follow these tips:
- Check your pressure washer manual to confirm if it can handle hot water. Do not exceed its temperature rating.
- Start with water that is 120-130°F. Measure with a thermometer. Gradually increase towards 140°F if needed.
- Wear rubber boots and gloves to insulate yourself from the heated water spray.
- Keep the pressure washer moving constantly when spraying. Do not let it idle in one spot for too long.
- When finished, run cold water through the pressure washer for 2-3 minutes to cool it down.
- Drain and flush out any remaining hot water from the pump and hoses when done.
- Descale the unit regularly to prevent mineral buildup, especially if using hard water.
- Check valves, seals and hoses frequently for wear when using hot water. Heat accelerates damage.
Running hot water through a pressure washer can certainly boost cleaning performance. However, you need the right pressure washer model capable of handling hot water temperatures. You also need to take safety precautions against scalding and have proper protective gear. Provided you use a compatible unit and take the proper precautions, using hot water can allow you to clean surfaces faster and more effectively. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pressure washer.
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