Pressure Washers Buyers Guide
What to look for:
Pressure washers intended for business use will have greater pressure (PSI - pounds per square inch), water flow (LPM - litres per minutes) and horse power (HP) than domestic ones. Plus, you get extra features designed for greater performance necessary for heavy-duty cleaning in a shop, at a construction site or as a road crew. Depending on the model, these features could include a longer-lasting pump with adjustable pressure, easy-start engine, larger tank, wheel cart with large tires, hot water capability, longer hose and industrial-grade gun and wand. Northern Tool understands the needs of the business user, and offers a great selection of professional and industrial pressure washers, in petrol-powered or electric, cold or hot water models.
Pressure washers for home use offer the benefit of cleaning better with less effort and in less time than traditional methods. The right combination of PSI, LPM, nozzles, attachments and cleaning solutions let you wash siding and windows, clean walkways, driveways and patios, bring wood decks and fences back to life, power clean vehicles, boats, lawnmowers, ATVs, even cut back vegetation growing alongside driveways and walkways.
A higher horsepower engine is needed for higher PSI and higher LPM. The combination of PSI and LPM is what does the cleaning.
Pounds per Square Inch (PSI)
A pressure washer's PSI rating is the maximum amount of force (pressure) discharged by the pressure washer. The higher the PSI, the more cleaning power available and the more things you will be able to clean.
Litres Per Minute (LPM)
A pressure washer's LPM rating refers to the water flow during one minute of operation. The higher the LPM, the faster you will be able to clean.
Petrol-Powered vs. Electric
Petrol-powered pressure washers offer the portability necessary for outdoor work while providing higher pressures and flows for more industrial applications. However, petrol pressure washers can only be used outdoors because the engines generate carbon monoxide.
Though limited in overall power, electric pressure washers can be used indoors or outdoors and are quieter than petrol-powered washers.
Hot or Cold Water Cleaning
See all our pressure washers:
Hot water pressure washers clean faster and more thoroughly than cold water pressure washers. They use less soap to sanitize and degrease, making them ideal for industrial and farm use. Cold water pressure washers are less complicated and are more compact for easy portability.
More PSI for more applications
Here's What You Can Clean with a Pressure Washer:
- Fence maintenance
- Paint stripping
- Graffiti removal
- Farm use
- Pavement and concrete
- Brick and block
- A/C coil maintenance
- Roof maintenance
- Lobster trap maintenance
- Garden furniture
- Golf cart
- Aeroplane maintenance
- Clean steel
- Fish hatchery
- Bread racks
- Floor mats
- Vet kennels
- Paint surface prep
- Construction site
- Fire hose maintenance
- Pipe/valve maintenance
- Pool maintenance
- Flood cleanup
- Pier maintenance
- Mountain bike
- Green houses
- Waste water cleanup
- Milk floats
- Canopy maintenance
- Elevator maintenance
NorthStar Pressure Washers: Why Buy NorthStar?
Lower Maintenance Costs
NorthStar™ replacement parts cost 33% less than the competition.
NorthStar™ meets the high-quality standards expected by Northern Tool + Equipment Co.
You can rest assured your product will last. That's because all NorthStar™ designs go through rigorous engineering life tests before going to market.
NorthStar Key Pressure Washer Features
Safety Relief Valve
The safety relief valve is the designed weak point in the pressure washer. If the unloader malfunctions, the safety relief valve will open and relieve system pressure safely.
Quick-Couple Chemical Injector
One of the most common failures in a pressure washer system is the chemical injector. There is a small orifice in the injector that can become blocked with dried up soap rendering the chemical injector inoperable. The advantage of the quick-couple injector over the hard-plumbed style is that you can remove the quick-couple injector in seconds with no tools. When it becomes blocked up, simply throw it in a bucket of water overnight and the chemical will dissolve.
The second advantage of a quick-couple chemical injector is the option of removing the chemical injector and boosting pressure by 5 to 10 percent. This is accomplished by removing the small orifice that the chemical injector works with.
Ceramic vrs Non-Ceramic Plungers
The plunger is the moving part of a pressure washer pump that travels back and forth between rubber seals to create the flow and pressure of a pressure washing system. The material that is used on all industrial grade pumps is ceramic. This material has excellent properties that allow it to be extremely smooth — extending the life of the seals. Ceramic also does not wear. Non-ceramic plungers will wear and reduce the life of the seals. They are found only on pumps designed for short life.
Pressure Washers: Frequently Asked Questions
When do I change the oil and what type of oil do I use?
First oil change: 15-20 hours or after 3 months, whichever comes first. Following oil changes should be every 200 hours or at least once a year. The oil should be changed, regardless of time, if it is milky-looking or the level is low. (The sight glass is on the side of the pump.) If the unit is being used frequently or commercially, you will want to change the oil more often. It is imperative that the oil is clean and water-free at all times.
Pumps use a 30-weight non-detergent pump oil. The use of motor oil will result in the oil becoming milky white in color. Units with gearboxes on the pump use 80W-90 gear lube oil. Do not confuse the gearbox with the actual pump when refilling or vice-versa.
Petrol-powered pressure washers use an SAE 30W motor oil (10W-30) in the engine. Always consult the engine manual for specific instructions and be careful to put the correct oil in the correct place.
I'm not getting any pressure. What do I need to check?
Generally, all pressure washers 1,500 PSI or less use a push/pull type nozzle adjustment. Turning the nozzle sleeve adjusts the spray fan pattern. If the sleeve is pulled back, the unit is in low pressure. If the sleeve is pushed forward, the unit is in high pressure. A quick check of the nozzle holder to make sure the nozzle is in place will help as well. The nozzle looks like an Allen screw with a hole in the middle of it.
For 2000 PSI units and above, use quick-couple nozzles that can be exchanged with each other depending on the application. These nozzles are color-coded for easy use. Black - low pressure and soap injection. Red - 0 degree fan pattern (high pressure). Yellow - 15 degree (high pressure). Green - 25 degree (high pressure). White - 40 degree (high pressure).
The engine must be running at full speed for the pump to operate properly. If the engine is not running at full throttle, the pump will not be able to produce the proper flow of water to give the pump full pressure.
Sometimes the keyway may slip out from the engine shaft and pump sleeve. To check the keyway, remove the four bolts that hold the pump to the engine and slide the pump off. A quick visual inspection will verify if the key is in place.
After a certain amount of use and time the water seals may begin to leak. This is a normal occurrence as the seals are considered a wear item. A seal leak can be confirmed by looking between the pump and the manifold to see if water is dripping down. If so, it is time to replace the seals.
My engine will not start. What do I do?
Pumps without a pressure release need to have the trigger pulled while starting the engine. Make sure the throttle, petrol and choke are all on. If all this checks out, inspect the air filter. If this is soaked with oil, replace the filter along with the spark plug. The last thing to check is the oil level. If the engine has a low-oil alert, just add more oil and the engine should start up.
I cannot get any soap injection. What should I do?
Make sure the nozzle is correctly adjusted for low pressure. (Push/pull type or black quick-couple nozzle.)
Make sure the soap injector metering valve is turned on.
Make sure that the soap solution is the consistency of water.
Make sure that the low-pressure tip is not clogged.
If the above steps are followed to no avail, remove the high-pressure hose and run the pump/engine with the soap injector turned on to see if it works without the hose. If it does, replace the hose, gun, wand, nozzle and tip, in that order, to determine which item is defective.
It is starting to get cold. How do I winterize my pressure washer?
Prepare the pressure washer for storage by running a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze into the unit. This will keep the internal parts lubricated, protected from rust, and prevents the pump from freezing. Please use environmentally friendly anti-freeze whenever possible using the following procedure:
- Mix anti-freeze and water at a 50/50 ratio.
- Connect a short piece of garden hose (2-3 feet long) to the water inlet fitting of the pump. Use a funnel to pour the anti-freeze solution down the hose.
- Disconnect the high-pressure hose from the pump, if it is still on the pump. Drain it and store it in a warm, safe place.
- Pour the anti-freeze solution down the funnel and into the short hose. Start the machine and let it draw the solution through the pump.
- This can take up to 2 minutes. Shut the pressure washer down when the solution begins to spray from the pump outlet.
- The machine is now ready for storage. Simply flush it out with clean water when you are ready to begin using it in the spring.
Note: This procedure works best if you have someone to help with the hose and funnel.
My unloader is stuck open. How do I clean it out?
- Unscrew the large red cap above the manifold.
- Remove the spring and washer that were under the cap.
- Unscrew the large brass bolt from the manifold and pull it out.
- Clean out the unloader valve in warm, soapy water and inspect for any debris or metal burrs. Remove any foreign materials.
- Flush out the cavity the unloader was in by running garden hose water through the pump. Use a flashlight to inspect the cavity for any debris and clean it out.
- Reassemble the unloader, taking care not to strip the brass threads. Make sure the red knob is screwed down tightly (hand-tightened).