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Old 03-31-2012, 10:50 AM   #1
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Hello, I've been doing A LOT of research, but still not sure what's best for my situation. I want an 'all around' pressure washer that will be able to handle anything I can throw at it. This will be used for things around the house, like siding, decks, fences, sidewalks, ect.
I've learned that more GPM is important if I want to do the job quicker, so I want a unit that will do 4 GPM, and the only ones I find that can do that are the 4,000+PSI units. I’ve selected three units I’m currently considering, but am open to suggestions. All three are pretty equivalent, minus the pump and unloader, and the NorthStar is ˝ GPM less.

1. DEWALT 4200 PSI 4.0 GPM Pro Triplex Pump Gas Pressure Washer Honda GX390 Engine
4200 PSI 4.0 GPM Pro Triplex Pump Gas Pressure Washer Honda GX390 Engine-DXPW 4240 at The Home Depot washer honda engine&storeId=10051

2. Pressure-Pro pressure washer, 4 GPM, 4000 PSI, Direct Drive (E4040HGI)
Pressure-Pro - 4000 PSI - Gas Pressure Washer - Powered by Honda - Sam's Club


3. NorthStar Professional Series Pressure Washer — 4000 PSI, 3.5 GPM (1578202)
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200355682_200355682

All three use a Honda GX390 engine. The DeWalt and the PressurePro have a General TX1510A Pump, with the unloader built into the pump, and the NorthStar has a Cat 66DX with an external unloader, which is easier to repair/replace. Obviously, the CAT is better; HOWEVER, it's also $300 more expensive on initial purchase and is more expensive to repair/replace.

So, my questions are:
1. How much of a difference is the 1/2 GPM less on the NorthStar verses the other two that offer 4 GPM, considering the NorthStar has the better CAT pump???
(Nothern Tools has a chart that shows it would take a 3.5 GPM unit 6 minutes to clean the same area it only takes 4 minutes to clean with a 4 GPM.)

2. How will I notice the “better pump”? Will the General slowly lose pressure or will it just die?? It seems to me that If it doesn't gradually lose pressure, then there's really no difference between pumps until they die, and in that case, I could buy a replacement General Pump for the difference in the initial price of the DeWalt vs the NorthStar.

3. If I were to buy the DeWalt, couldn’t I just replace the General Pump with a pump with an external unloader when the time comes?

The weaker pump is the only thing holding me back on the DeWalt, and the lower GPM and $300 more price is the only drawback on the NorthStar. So, which is the “better” buy? (BTW, I don’t’ mind spending the extra $300 if I’ll be happier in the long run.)

Any Advise???? Thanks!!

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Old 03-31-2012, 02:22 PM   #2
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Unless you have some secret ambition to hire yourself out doing pressure washing jobs...
then you don't need (really and truly you don't) pro grade equipment.

GPM aside*... 2000psi output is plenty for almost any household task.
For those few where more might be called for... you go a bit slower.

hth

* on the point of GPM (and psi) input:
know what your home water pipes can feed to the equipment before choosing anything

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Old 03-31-2012, 03:48 PM   #3
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Tarheel pretty much nailed it. You don't need much more than 2000 to 2800 PSI to do most household tasks. In fact I have used household models to do pre-paint pressure washing with great success. I used to get 3 or 4 years out of them before the pump died, then I would buy another. You won't have to spend much more than $500 to get a decent unit. As long as you don't use it for 5 or 6 hours a day every day of the week, you will get your money's worth. Do avoid brands like Troy-Built sold at Lowe's, etc. The Honda motors last forever.......it's the pumps that die prematurely.
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:49 PM   #4
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Thanks for the reply. I filled a 5 gallon bucket in one minute, so I don't think I'll have any problems with a 4 GPM pressure washer. As for the 2,000 PSI being enough for most jobs around the house, here's link from Northern Tools that recommends the PSI and GPM for pressure washers and their application. Here they suggest a minimum of 2,600PSI for most household applications, and state a job that takes 10 mins with a 2.5GPM unit will only take four minutes with a 4GPM unit.

http://www.northerntool.com/catalog/...essurewashers/


I like purchasing good or "pro" equipment, because it gives me peace of mind that it will normally last longer and I won't encounter a task I'm not equipped to handle. I want this to be a long term investment, so for only a few hundred dollars more I feel I can accomplish that, and know that I can get the job done faster. ALTHOUGH, I will admit that I'm a little concerned with being able to control the bigger unit and mastering the technique without damaging surfaces.

Other than the up front cost of the unit and the increased risk of damaging surfaces with higher PSI, are there any other reasons I wouldn't want a larger pressure washer e.g. a 2,600 verses a 4,000 PSI model?

And I'm still looking for advise on my original question about which unit is better considering the pump verses costs.

Thanks Again!

Gymschu, I was typing my reply to TarheelTerp and submitted before reading your message. Thanks for the response. I want to be clear, I get the fact I don't need a lot of PSI. However, I would like a unit that has the PSI available if I ever did need it. I'm mostly concerned with getting the most GPM my water supply will handle, so I can do my task quickly and efficiently! I don't see any smaller PSI units with big pumps, so I feel a pro model will give me what I want. (but I am here to learn, so I appreciate your advice..... just might be too stubborn to take it

Last edited by RickDel; 03-31-2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:58 PM   #5
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Rick, I don't blame you for upgrading to a professional unit. You may also want to post your question at Painttalk.com in the pressure washing section as there are more pros over there. As for pumps, my experience is that they die rather suddenly.........rarely have I noticed a problem until they're completely shot. Wish I was more of an expert on the subject but I only PW in prep for a paint job.
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Gymschu, You beat me to my reply again.... Anyhow, thanks for your advice. I do A LOT of reading over at Painttalk, but I'm not a contractor, so I can't sign up or ask for help over there (believe me, I'd sneek in there if I could)
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:13 PM   #7
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Oh, that's Great SIR !!
I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me here, but if it's advice on my question, please elaborate. Thanks!
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


RickDel,

I managed a detail business for 14 years so will give my two cents. BTW, we worked out of a dealer only auction detailing near 100 cars per week. We also detailed Casino vehicles (buses, limos), personal cars at various businesses, and a few homes on occasion, etc.

1) I would not recommend getting anything under 3000 psi and highly advise you not to consider anything rated around 2000psi! Our units were 3600psi. One of my employee's did some work for a dealer once and was given a 2600psi unit that we used for a backup and light stuff. We referred to it as "Peewee". You could probably get away with that size but will take some time with heavy stuff, such as side walks/drives.

2) We typically purchased and used the units (I think they were Honda's) from Lowe's and Home Depot. We were only getting one year out of them before having to replace; until we began taping the handles closed. At that point we would get three to four years of service, with no issues.

The unloaders are junk. Most fail/freeze after a short period anyhow. The best thing you can do to extend the life of a pressure washer is insure it is always spraying when running. Heat and internal pressure damage the pump pistons. Pressure loss can be gradual or fast. A constant flow of water through the pump avoids both issues.

3) We never ran chemicals through our units, in attempting to avoid possible corrosion. If you do so, be sure to thoroughly flush when finished. Also, don't fuss over the gpm as they will be adequate for which ever unit you purchase. More is better of course but would be a last variable.

Good luck

Last edited by Ralph III; 04-02-2012 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:39 PM   #9
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Ralph III, thanks for your input!! I think you're the first person that has actually encouraged me to get anything bigger then a 2,600 PSI.

Question, if you guys needed lower PSI, did you adjust the unloader, use larger orifice tips, or just move farther away from your work surface?

I've narrowed my selection down to either the Northern Tools 4,000 PSI with the Cat pump or the DeWalt 4,000 PSI with the integrated unloader. From what I've read, the integrated pump is less reliable, but it's $300 cheaper and I can rebuild or replace the General Pump for that price. Besides, I'm probably not going to ever put more then 20 - 50 hours on this thing a year. My only concern is whether the General will slowly lose pressure or will it just stop. If it slowly loses pressure, then I think I'd rather buy the better quality Cat Pump from NT.

Thanks Again for your help.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:25 PM   #10
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


If you are going all out better invest in an electric start unit with a remote start button. 13 HP Honda and 4000 Cat. 5.5 gpm. Mine has held together for 10 years now used daily April 15 to Oct 31.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:34 PM   #11
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


CaptRandy, what make and model do you have?
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:40 AM   #12
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Quote:
Originally Posted by RickDel View Post
Ralph III, thanks for your input!! I think you're the first person that has actually encouraged me to get anything bigger then a 2,600 PSI.

Question, if you guys needed lower PSI, did you adjust the unloader, use larger orifice tips, or just move farther away from your work surface?

I've narrowed my selection down to either the Northern Tools 4,000 PSI with the Cat pump or the DeWalt 4,000 PSI with the integrated unloader. From what I've read, the integrated pump is less reliable, but it's $300 cheaper and I can rebuild or replace the General Pump for that price. Besides, I'm probably not going to ever put more then 20 - 50 hours on this thing a year. My only concern is whether the General will slowly lose pressure or will it just stop. If it slowly loses pressure, then I think I'd rather buy the better quality Cat Pump from NT.

Thanks Again for your help.
No problem on the help. Please note, we used ours for a heavy workload on a daily basis, so your personal usage won't be as demanding. I don't know that I would recommend 4000psi, just don't go under 3000psi.


Starting those larger units with one hand can be difficult. Again, it's best not to start with the pump under pressure or while running! If you're set on the larger units, get one with electric start as CaptRandy stated unless some easy pull feature, otherwise use a towel (not bare hand) when starting manually. It will save you a few blisters....


Now to answer your questions.

1) We rarely ever had to adjust the pressure output and would typically avoid such anyhow, as it represented more wear and tear for us. Our units had a throttle control however, so we could do so via that if needed. Otherwise, just change out the tips. Do not mess with the unloader!

2) I don't know anything about the integrated pump and unloader. Our units had external unloaders. My gut and suggestion would be to stay away from a unit that had an integrated unloaded. The unloader is typically always what contributes to pump failure. If an external unloader fails you have truly lost nothing. The unit is still completely functional, just avoid internal pressure buildup.

3) If you can limit or completely avoid ever starting/running your pressure washer minus spraying, then you can expect a long life. If however, you make a habit of starting/running the unit under pressure (not spraying) you can expect a loss of pressure and complete failure at some point. It can occur gradually or happen quite quickly. Always keep that thing spraying!!


God Bless

Last edited by Ralph III; 04-03-2012 at 01:45 AM.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:21 AM   #13
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


Mine is a 13 HP GX model Honda with electric start and a 3500 Cat pump with unloader(with 400 ft of hose it gets down to around 2500psi). Got mine from Northern as special order. electric start because I clean a hundred trucks at a time and have to move around a yard and do not want the engine to keep running when I have to move hoses.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:58 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by CaptRandy View Post
Mine is a 13 HP GX model Honda with electric start and a 3500 Cat pump with unloader(with 400 ft of hose it gets down to around 2500psi). Got mine from Northern as special order. electric start because I clean a hundred trucks at a time and have to move around a yard and do not want the engine to keep running when I have to move hoses.
Hello CapRandy,

I don't mean to steal RickDel's thread but was curious as to what you wash or line of business?

It sounds like you are doing line washes of some sort on large trucks or utility vehicles? I've just never seen anyone with 400ft of pressure hose.

We did line washing the day of the auction (300-400 cars avg) but had a trailer setup and 200ga. tank. There were times we would run several long hoses to a pw (from spicket, not trailer) but 50-60 ft high pressure hose was sufficient or best for us. You can quickly throw that length over the trailer when moving as draging the high pressure hose on the asphalt would lead to blowouts.

Anyhow, just curious.

Ralph

Last edited by Ralph III; 04-03-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:45 PM   #15
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Need help selecting a pressure washer!! (a little lengthy)


The truck wash is 100 20 ft box trucks lined up in an open lot, the drivers park all over the lot so I have to move from area to area to clean about 5 to 10 trucks at a time. Inject soap then scrub if necessary then rinse, move to next group. I hook up 4 or 5- 100 ft hoses to clean as the lot is quite large probably 1000ft by 500 ft.

Rest of time I clean houses, decks, concrete pads and the rest of stuff you can imagine.

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