Under Pressure: The Trials and Tribulations of Pressure-Washing my Deck

Who thought pressure-washing the deck would be so hard? It all started 2 days ago when I called my father to borrow his 1800psi electric pressure washer. I’ve used this before to wash down the boat at the end of the season but this time I was trying to remove stubborn green algae from my deck, which measures 15’x30′. After about 30 minutes, I blew a fuse (literally) and had only completing about a 9sqft. section. I decided it was time to call in the reinforcements. My buddy Dave has a pressure washer I’ve used in the past- a 5 H.P., 4000psi, gas powered unit, that really packs a punch, so I decided to give him a call and make the 1 hour (round-trip) drive to go get it. When I got there it was buried under all the summer stuff that hadn’t made it out of the shed yet, so I pulled up my sleeves and went to work. I wrestled with the snow-blower, and fought with the pool supplies (which reminds me, I don’t think I put them back in the shed) and finally I was able to extract the candy-apple red machine from the depths and I loaded it into the back of my Ford Explorer.

When I got home, there wasn’t a lot of daylight left, I figured I might have time to do half of the deck before the sun slipped under the horizon for the night. I was anxious to get started and see the end result, as the small section I had already done looked amazing. I filled the tank with gas, primed it a few times and pull started it after 2-3 attempts. The hoses were all hooked up and I was ready to roll! Time to turn on the water!

When I rounded the corner coming back from the spigot I noticed that there was already a lot of water on the deck and there was an unusual amount coming out of the handle on the gun. I thought “wow that’s a lot of pressure, this things is going to work great” but when I grabbed the gun and hit the trigger, a weak stream came out of the tip and even more water came from the handle. Needless to say, this wasn’t going to cut it. I attempted to adjust the hose on the bottom of the gun, to no avail and then suddenly with no warning the hose fell off completely, dancing around the deck and spraying me down quite well. 

Three hardware stores later, I decided that if they didn’t have the small rubber gasket that was the cause of all my problems, surely Home Depot would have it. The best part was I knew that if I went to the Depot, they have machines I could buy or rent, so if I couldn’t find my part I had other options. I didn’t manage to find anything that would work so I began pricing pressure-washers to purchase, knowing they would run me about $60 to rent for 4 hrs. The electric ones were $199 and the gas powered were $299-$599. I didn’t feel like dropping that much but the option to buy seemed to make sense. It was at that moment I decided I should go to Harbor Freight and price them out instead. Surely they would have a cheaper solution to my problem.

When I got to the Harbor Freight store in Attleboro, MA about 25 minutes from my house in Franklin, I decided to give the gasket search one more try, again unsuccessful and I began looking for the pressure-washers. The gentleman at the desk said they were in the back of the store, so off I went. When I got there, I saw only two- a cheap electric like my father’s and a gas powered on for $400. Nothing for $250-$300 which I thought was odd. Again, not wanting to spend more than that, I decided that going back to Home Depot to rent one, was my best option… Back in the car for another 25 minute drive.

I had a sense of pride when I pulled the Home Depot pressure-washer out of the back of the car, when I got back home. Two days, which had literally been wasted, driving around looking for a 25 cent gasket and pricing out a pressure-washer at two different stores, was about to be a distant memory- much like the green algae on the deck. I began the setup process- Gas? Check., Hoses attached? Check. Fuel on? Check. Water? Check! I pulled the chord and she fired up immediately! I thought to myself “Wooo! Here-we-go! The lines all had pressure, let’s see what this baby’s got!!!”

So there I am, listening to the sleepy music, on hold, as I wait for the Home Depot rental agent to tell me what is wrong with the pressure washer… I’m not really sure how long I was on hold but at this point it was the only thing preventing me from pulling all of my hair out! I’m pretty sure that if someone had come to the door at this very moment, and tried to sell me something, like religion or a vacuum- I would probably be arrested for assault and battery- unless of course they were selling pressure washers…. As it would turn out, the issue was just that the tip needed to be swapped out and there were a couple different types with the rental machine, so after a quick switch I was AGAIN ready for action. I started up the machine once more, prepared myself for yet another fail and much to my surprise, the damn thing was actually working! What a magnificent sight, to see the water explode from the gun with so much power. It was almost as if all of my frustrations and disappointments were being expelled right there before my eyes- vindication!

What should have taken only a couple hours, took 2 days, 100+ miles, half a tank of gas, and 3 pressure-washers to complete. The end result, however; is a deck that looks brand new. Next time I will hire someone!