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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981

Scum Busting

Written by  Lawrence Chan

Pressure Washer

Whether you’re an established building service contractor (bsc) or a new company trying to find your niche, adding power washing service taps into a market with a consistent demand, year round. Most building managers you currently service are probably already outsourcing pressure washing to another company, but most would prefer to let their existing BSC perform this task on an as needed basis. This makes pressure washing a good fit for most BSCs on the hunt for the service diversification model that can turn leads into revenue.

Rudy Szanto, owner and manager of Vapt Vupt Janitorial in Clermont Florida, started his business sixteen years ago offering traditional cleaning services to businesses. In 2013 he noticed a trend. Many of his clients began requesting power washing services, so in response to a need, his company invested in a gas powered power pressure washer. Once word caught on that Vapt Vupt was in the pressure washing business his other customers also signed up for periodic exterior cleaning. Szanto realized that power washing was an underserved niche in his market and that grime was everywhere. He was immediately able to start offering pressure washing to all his existing customers and begin to solicit power washing as a stand-alone service to new clients.

In response to the demand, purchased another bigger and better gas-powered power washer for fourteen hundred dollars. “Honestly, we recouped our investment within four to six months,” Szanto says. “It was definitely an investment well spent.” Vapt Vupt has now increased their monthly revenue by eight thousand dollars each month by adding power washing services.

Expert advice

Bizy Bees specializes in cleaning sidewalks, walkways, decks, as well as home and business exteriors in Gainesville Florida. Owner, Scott Bickley says, “Most buildings have some degree of green and black mold on them.” Bickley, and co-owner J.R. Maddox have grown their business exponentially over the past year by recognizing that opportunity is literally, everywhere. With three workers utilizing gas powered pressure washers, the Bizy Bees team can finish a large one story building in just three and a half hours. High humidity levels in the Southern US, keep rust, mold and algae consistently growing and Bizy Bees, generating up to two thousand dollars in revenue every day throughout the year. They were even awarded a contract to clean the exterior several Starbucks coffee shops in their service area.

Throughout the US, the diversity of weather and soil types makes cleaning different in each region, but all building exteriors and paved surfaces get dirty and can use a periodic pressure washing. BSCs should research what sort of grime, mold or filth is most prevalent in their zone in order to target the right market, choose the right equipment, and properly serve their community’s specific niche. Periodic removal of vegetation, dirt, peeling paint, rust, grime, on buildings as well as filth, grease and oil stains on parking areas are all money makers. Bickley points out that cleaning opportunities usually develop in clusters. “Many don’t realize how dirty their property actually is until they see a neighboring business that has recently been pressure washed. Grime builds up slowly, and the discoloration creeps up, so you never even notice the side of a building or paved surface needs cleaned.”

According to Bickley, most maintenance workers can be trained to use a power washer properly in two to three days. For a commercial cleaning company, Bickley suggests using a gas-powered pressure washer like CleanFreak’s 110 Volt Gas Power Washing System CAM 1600HX. Bickley says this type of equipment is the best fit because they tend to have the right water pressure for most scum busting and typical exterior surfaces most BSCs will need to clean.

Learn more

However, not every tool, nor pressure washer in this case, is created equal. These are the questions to ask when deciding on which model to purchase. 

How does a power washer work?

A pressure washer is a an engine powered with electricity or fuel that powers a pump that then moves water at high pressure, sometimes heating it, before projecting the water through a pressure controlled valve, controlled by the operator. The water is usually mixed with an appropriate cleaning fluid for the surface being cleaned. There is some danger of damaging exterior surfaces like stucco and brick mortar, but according to Bickley, when the equipment is used properly, afflicting damage to surfaces is rare and usually just requires just a quick fix like replacing a loose tile.

Pressure Wash Walkway

What traits are most important when choosing a power washer?

The answer to features is dependent largely on where power washing service will occur. Discover the niche with current customers and those potential customers within close proximity of your current territory. After discovering what type of areas most need serviced and what type of grime needs addressed, the decision for equipment comes down to specific budgetary constraints. Knowing how much force is needed for the average job scope is the primary concern when making the initial purchase. The higher the pressure, the faster the job, but with high pressure there is also risk of damaging surfaces like wood or stucco. The amount of water pressure exerted onto the surface is a key concern, and depending on access to water, the tank size is important to take into account. Hot water capability versus cold water is also a consideration.


When selecting a pressure washer, should I opt for electric, gas or mounted?

Pressure washers come in gas or electric powered, vehicle mounted and skid mounted varieties. Where and how you plan to diversify your service will dictate which model type best suits your needs.

• Electric powered pressure washers are smaller and more versatile than either gas or mounted power washers. Some smaller hand-held models are compact enough to target otherwise hard to reach areas. Electric powered washers are best suited for interior cleaning of kitchens or restaurants because their pumps don’t release carbon monoxide. However, most electric powered washers lack the sheer force to effectively clean a building’s exterior and are more expensive than their gas powered counterparts. Electric powered power washer carry a price tag starting at seven hundred dollars.

• Gas powered pressure commercial washers are bigger and stronger and best suited for cleaning building exteriors, and are priced between two hundred and eight thousand dollars, depending on features. They come mounted to a cart with two or four wheels and most models boast power of 1800 to 5000 PSI.

• Trailer mounted pressure washers are the largest most powerful variety of gasoline powered washers and are intended for use on expansive commercial structures. The cost of mounted pressure washers can range from one to twenty-four thousand dollars. Models like the Cam Spray Professional 5000 PSI weighs nearly five thousand pounds, has 150 of hose, a 688cc Honda engine, and can heat water up to 330 degrees. Pressure washers can have power up to with six-thousand PSI with the ability to heat water up to 330 degrees. Consider safety a top concern when purchasing this grade of equipment.

• Truck and skid mount pressure washers provide a powerful cleaning capability in the bed of your own truck. While they are similar to the trailer mounted units, most do not have a water tank, so you’ll need a water source. Look for units with electric start to save your arm a workout. Hot water truck mount power washers are suitable for cleaning greasy or oil-stained areas such as parking lots and garages. 

Pressure Wash Brick

What sort of safety precautions and training are needed?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year in the US, six thousand people are injured by power washer mishaps, ranging from chemical burns, skin abrasions or injuries caused by wash fluid shot back at the user. To ensure safety, employees should take the following precautions:

• Equipment: While using gas powered models, wear safety goggles, and with mounted units, hearing protection is needed.

• Method: Start with the nozzle two feet away from the target surface moving closer as needed, but do not move the nozzle any closer than six inches from the surface being cleaned. Point the nozzle away from limbs, people, pets, lights, air conditioners and other electrical devices while cleaning. Take extra care while using solid-stream nozzles because they can cause the most harm.


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