Are Electric Pressure Washers Safe with Hot Water?

Are Electric Pressure Washers Safe With Hot Water?

In your pressure washing adventures, you may decide that it would be better to use hot water to help scrape off the dirt or debris from whatever surface you’re cleaning. Hot water may make the job easier, especially if you’re also using soap or detergent. Unfortunately, it is not safe to use hot water in a typical electric pressure washer. 

Manufacturers simply do not build electric pressure washers to withstand high temperatures. However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Hot water pressure washers do exist. You can buy or rent these machines to complete all of your hot water cleaning projects. Here’s what you need to know about using these machines. 

Why Can’t I Put Hot Water in My Electric Pressure Washer?

First, it’s important to understand why most electric pressure washers cannot do the work that hot water pressure washers do. Electric pressure washers are built to be relatively affordable, which means they use thin plastic for many components. However, thin plastic is liable to melt when exposed to high temperatures. 

Melted parts are a huge risk, as they can expose the electrical components to water. This could damage the pressure washer and ruin it beyond repair. Or, it could create an electrical shock risk. You could end up seriously hurt or burned if you attempt to use hot water in a pressure washer. 

Is There A Safe Way to Use Warm Water in a Pressure Washer? 

Every pressure washer should have a maximum temperature listed in it’s owner’s manual. You can check your own to determine if you can use warm water in it. Some models, such as the Karcher K5 Premium, actually rely on the coolness of the water you use to keep the engine running at the right temperature.

Other pressure washers can handle warm water. For example, the Martha Stewart 1450 Max pressure washer’s manual lists a maximum water inlet temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (or 40 degrees Celsius). So, you may use the electrical pressure washer with warm water. However, you must be careful as it is very easy to accidentally exceed this temperature limit. 

Further, unless you have a hot water hose outlet, it’s challenging to get hot water into an electric pressure washer in the first place. If you have a pressure washer which connects to your sink, you can turn the tap onto hot. However, you may find that your pressure washer runs through all of the hot water in your hot water tank quickly. 

Also, you may run into temperature problems. The average hot water tank (which most people use to heat the water in their home) is set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and for safety reasons should not be set lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or you risk allowing bacteria to grow in the tank. Therefore, you typically cannot reduce your tank temperature to meet the requirements of your pressure washer. 

You can attempt to turn the tap to warm and not hot. But it is hard to monitor the temperature of the warm water from a tank to ensure it doesn’t pass the pressure washer’s maximum rated temperature. You cannot just spray a pressure washer on a thermometer to check. By the time you realize the water is too warm, it may have already done damage to the pressure washer. 

Overall, it’s best to buy or rent the right tool for the job: a hot water pressure washer. 

What Is A Hot Water Pressure Washer? 

A hot water pressure washer is designed to take in cold water, heat it quickly, and then eject the water at high pressure just like cold water pressure washers. You can purchase a hot water pressure washer that runs on gas or electricity. 

However, hot water pressure washers are typically not affordable for purchase for most homeowners. As they need to create and handle high temperature water, they are made of better materials, they are much bulkier in construction and they are much more expensive. The most reasonably priced hot water pressure washer we can find is still going to put you back almost two thousand dollars. 

Unless you are a commercial buyer who is routinely cleaning very soiled items, and who needs that to be as fast as possible, buying a hot water pressure washer is probably just not a good investment. Cold water pressure washers do any household task. They are slower than hot water pressure washers, but they get the work done. 

That said, you might consider renting a hot water pressure washer for infrequent but heavy-duty cleaning task. 

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Hot Water Pressure Washer?

It is much rarer to find a hot water pressure washer available for rent than a cold-water pressure washer. Even home stores such as Home Depot and Lowes do not have hot water pressure washers available in all areas. If you can find a hot water pressure washer rental in your area you can typically expect rates approaching $200 dollars per day or approaching $500 per week. You may also need to purchase the fuel for a gas-powered model, which can add significant cost as these machines do use a lot of fuel. 

Of course, when you compare this to a typical cold-water pressure washer rental, it is very expensive. A cold-water model with comparable PSI and GPU to a hot water model may be rented for half the cost. Whenever possible, you will want to use a cold water pressure washer in order to save money. 

When Should You Choose a Hot Water Pressure Washer? 

While most tasks, especially household tasks, are well suited to a cold-water pressure washer, there are certain projects that may highly benefit from a hot water pressure washer instead. Here are some of those projects:

  • Automotive: Cleaning engines and other automotive parts may require hot water to truly remove oil. While a home hobbyist can get away with only renting a hot water pressure washer, trucking companies and other companies that use heavy equipment typically purchase them. 
  • Waste management: Cleaning dumpsters on a regular basis without a hot water pressure washer would be frustrating. However, if you just want to clean it once, you can get by with a cold-water pressure washer. 
  • Food services: If you run a small food services business, regulations may require you to use a hot water pressure washer to sanitize your equipment. 
  • Construction: Heavy equipment often must be cleaned with the use of a hot water pressure washer. 
  • Manufacturing: Creating products can be messy. Manufacturers often purchase industrial-grade pressure washer which use hot water to clean their property. 

Choosing Your Hot Water Pressure Washer Models 

If you do think it will be worthwhile to purchase a hot water pressure washer, what should you be looking for in a model? Here are several things to consider:

  • Gas power versus electric: If you need a very high-pressure machine, gas will end up being more affordable. However, they are less convenient. 
  • Detergent needs: If you need to add detergent to your stream, you’ll want to choose a pressure washer which has the capability to do this built-in. Unlike with household pressure washers, it is too inconvenient to scrub up what you’re cleaning ahead of pressure washing. 
  • Portability and size: Hot water pressure washers are going to be large, as they need to store the water for heating before they use the water. Not all models will be manageable indoors or simple to move around.  
  • Warranty: You will be making a significant investment when you purchase hot water pressure washer. Therefore, you’ll benefit from having a long, comprehensive warranty. 

If you do end up purchasing a hot water pressure washer, be careful. You’ll need to adjust the cleaning process for many common household surfaces to compensate for the machine’s additional pressure and heat.

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