Before we connect a garden hose to a pressure washer, here’s the most fundamental question to answer:
Have you ever seen a sitcom?
Things are funny in sitcoms, sometimes in spite of, and sometimes because of an in-built moment of mortification, where we realise there are going to be consequences, and that our sit-com hero hasn’t realised what they will be.
Things are funny in sit-coms which, if they happened in real life, would be horrifying, or embarrassing, or expensive.
Things are funny in sitcoms because they show us, from a safe distance, how close we come to disaster every day.
If, in Real Life, we happened to be out at a bar, and while trying to catch someone’s eye we casually fell through the space where the bar used to be, we’d be mortified, bruised, and covered in cocktail.
In Only Fools And Horses though, this unpromising scenario becomes hilarious because it’s so possible, we’re glad it didn’t happen to us.
In Real Life, if we found ourselves employed as a chandelier cleaner in a country house one weekend, and a relative let the wrong chandelier crash to the ground while we watched, we’d be mortified, calculating just how sued we were going to be, imagining headlines of our setting up as unlicensed chandelier cleaners…
In Real Life, it would be a nightmare. Again in Only Fools And Horses, it’s hilarious specifically because it’s not happening to us.
The world of sitcom is Real Life+Really Bad Decisions.
Why do we bring this up?
Because Real Life gives us opportunities every day to star in our own sitcom. Every time we put on roller skates, Real Life gives us the opportunity to become Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em, surfing into traffic behind a bus.
Whenever we don’t do the work before going into a meeting, Real Life offers us the opportunity to become Alan Partridge, desperately pulling ludicrous ideas off the top of our head.
Whenever we take workplace rivalry too seriously, Real Life offers us the chance to become David Brent dancing in the office.
Whenever we’re faced with the chance to attach a high pressure washer to a garden hose, it’s Real Life offering us the opportunity to flood our garden, decapitate every flower we own, assassinating a line of gnomes and, depending on who’s writing our life that day, possibly soaking our carpet, soaking our electrical systems and burning the house to the ground.
What stands between us and a sitcom fate is knowledge and good decisions. When you’re dealing with electricity, water and high pressure all at once, the sitcom version of your life flirts with serious danger.
Don’t be a sitcom. Do the job right.
Easy. Just follow these easy steps. Don’t miss out or skip over any of them, and don’t unscrew the wrong chandelier, and everything will be fine.
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Step 1: Tapping The Source
Take your garden hose. Make sure it’s at least 7.5m long and has a diameter of at least 12.5mm. You need the thickness to avoid any backpressure.
Attach your garden hose to the nearest water tap – ideally an external one.
If you have no external tap, take advantage of any windows to get water from indoors to outdoors without letting the hose lie on the floors of your home.
Turn on the tap and run water slowly through the garden hose to check for holes or weak spots. If the water only comes out of the hole at the end, your hose is safe to use.
If your hose has sprung leaks since the last time you used it, you’re either going to need to repair it before you continue, or get a new garden hose.
Assuming your garden hose is fit for purpose, keep it attached at the tap, and attach a coupler to the other end. You should be able to twist the coupler onto the open end of your garden hose.
Step 2: Making Connections
2a) Take a look at your pressure washer. Attach the garden hose to the pressure washer at the inlet valve. Twist the coupler into the socket and make sure it’s tight.
2b) The pressure washer will come with a high-pressure hose. Connect that hose to the outlet valve, usually found at the front of the washer.
2c) Take whichever nozzle or wand-end you want from the pressure cooker’s accessories. Screw it into the end of the high-pressure hose.
Stage 3: Fill Your Washer
Turn on the tap. Fill your pressure washer to at least two-thirds of its capacity. You don’t want to run your pressure washer with too little water, as you run the risk of damaging the washer.
Turn your tap off once you’ve filled the washer to an appropriate level, to avoid sitcom explosions! Add any detergent you intend to use to the washer at this stage.
Stage 4: Add Electricity
Plug your pressure washer into the mains. Be. Very. Careful.
Ideally, use a long extension cord, and keep the path of your power supply as far away from the area you intend to pressure wash.
Extra-ideally, use a long extension cord to connect the washer to the power source, and make sure the cord or the plug is fitted with a circuit-breaker.
That way, if anything goes wrong, or if the electricity and the water end up accidentally connecting, you won’t blow your whole house’s power net.
When you’re sure your water and power lines are separate and safe, take the wand in your hand.
Switch the washer on at the machine.
Then you’re set to pressure wash whichever area of your garden, patio, or pathway you like.
Stage 5: General Maintenance And Safety
Make sure you keep refilling your pressure washer from the tap from time to time, so you don’t run the unit dry.
You’re not obliged to keep the coupler attached to your garden hose full-time.
Just as you screwed the coupler into the end of the hose to connect it to the pressure washer, you can unscrew it when you’re finished, if you need the hose for other household or garden work.
Just remember where you store the coupler – ideally with either the pressure washer or the hose – so you can re-couple it next time you need to use the pressure washer.
It’s worth investing in a higher-end pressure washer if you intend to make frequent or prolonged use of it.
Also, consider buying a high-pressure extension hose if the one that comes with your machine is on the short side.
Once you have your wand in your hand, you don’t want to be limited in how far you can go with it, and some supplied high-pressure hoses won’t let you wander far from the washer itself.
Follow these steps every time you use your pressure washer, and you should avoid any sitcom-style accidents.
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