Choosing the Right Pressure Washer Tips
When pressure washing, you probably grab the first tip you come across that matches the application you need it for. This makes sense, of course, as the various colors on pressure washer tips seem universal. You’d probably be surprised at your own negligence here though. As Stihl tells us, using the wrong tips can actually have extremely adverse effects on the durability of the internal components of the pressure washer. And, contrary to popular belief, the color of the pressure washer tip has more to do with spray pattern than orifice size. As it turns out, even if the tip colors do stay consistent and reliable between manufacturers, a tip’s orifice size can vary pretty wildly between model numbers. And, the last thing you really want is to throw too much pressure through an orifice that can’t handle it.
Pressure Washer Tips: Inspect Your Orifice
The unloader is one of the most important parts of any pressure washer. It’s basically a spring-loaded device that recirculates water through the pump when you’ve let off the wand. Basically, when you have the engine running but you aren’t actually spraying, the unloader forms a “water cushion” that keeps the pump from tearing itself apart. Because of its function and role, it is subject to an incredible amount of pressure and susceptible to a lot of wear and tear.
But, what if you throw any old tip on the end of your wand? Here’s the problem: pressure washer tips have been calibrated to a specific PSI rating. Using too small or too big of a tip orifice will change your water pressure, both from an applicational standpoint, as well as internally where the water pressure meets the unloader. Damaging the unloader will also eventually damage your pressure washer’s pistons and check valves. Therefore, keeping everything in balance is critical.
Using a pressure washer tip that has too small of an orifice will result in higher operating pressure. When you release the throttle on the wand, this excessive pressure causes the unloader to hammer closed. But let’s say you go the other direction with it, and you use a tip with too big of an orifice. In this case, your operating pressure will wind up way too low. If the point of a pressure washer is to crank out a lot of pressure, using a tip with an orifice that’s too big will defeat the purpose.
The Moral Of The Story
You can avoid these issues if you just grab the right parts. The manufacturer will recommend the right part number for your specific model. If, for whatever reason, you can’t find tips for your specific pressure washer make and model, aim for tips that match the PSI rating of your pressure washer. By maintaining the intended balance between engine, unloader, and pressure washer tips, you can prolong the life of this helpful and not-necessarily-cheap-to-replace piece of equipment.