Power washers are only as good as their nozzles, and if you have a clogged nozzle, then your machine is useless until you can resolve the problem. These clogs can increase your operating expenses and cost you revenue, too, by reducing machine uptime. Below is information about some common causes of nozzle clogs and how to prevent them:
Clogs in industrial pressure washer nozzles can occur for several reasons, but some of the most common reasons for clogs include an accumulation of precipitates from water, chemical residue from cleaning agents, and non-dissolving foreign matter such as sand. Fortunately, all of these causes are preventable if you take the right steps upfront to keep them at bay. Here are some ways to prevent these elements from clogging your nozzles:
Water-borne precipitates - both hard water and excessively soft water can be a source of nozzle clogs. Hard water contains various precipitates that will settle inside your nozzles and slowly begin to build a layer of hard, scaly material. On the other hand, water that is soft due to excessive dissolved iron can also create trouble by depositing rust-colored material inside the nozzles.
Preventing water deposits isn't always easy, but an excellent means of control is by using water filtration systems. Reverse osmosis systems are in common use due to their ability to keep water within certain parameters. The downside is cost, and the benefits gained by utilizing a reverse osmosis system may not be worth the investment.
Another way to prevent water deposits from becoming a problem is by using chemical treatment. On a regular basis, the introduction of agents that neutralize the pH of the water can reduce the amount of precipitation that can occur. For example, ordinary acetic acid, or vinegar, can stop incipient hard water precipitation. However, just as with water filtration, there are disadvantages; adding chemicals to the water supply can complicate the use of equipment. It's important that rigorous standards be put into place regarding the inspection of equipment and chemical tanks to ensure the correct agent is in place at the time it is needed.
Chemical residue - some cleaning agents used by power washing equipment are capable of leaving hard matter behind, especially in situations where the water and chemical mixture is heated. These precipitates can literally bake-on to the interior components, including nozzles, if the heat of the outgoing spray is high enough. That's why it's important to operate washers at the appropriate temperature and understand how to correctly use chemical additives.
In addition, purging of pressure washers with clean water is another way to keep the amount of chemical residue from accumulating. Allowing chemicals to "sit" inside the equipment where it can precipitate leads to trouble. As with preventing water deposits, careful controls need to be implemented so that chemicals are promptly removed from the water flow and equipment properly cleaned after use. Merely running the washer with pure water for a few minutes after use can help minimize or prevent the possibility of chemical precipitation inside nozzles.
Undissolved particles - another source of frustrating nozzle clogs is the presence of tiny, undissolved particles that enter the tank in their present form. Sand is easily introduced into a system, for example, and bits of concrete or other hard micro-sized particles can also intrude. Beyond clogging, undissolved particles also abrade interior components and can lead to deformation of the nozzle tip, changing the spray pattern as a result.
As a result, keeping out undissolved particles and using in-line filtration are both important preventative actions. Simple actions such as keeping water hoses off the ground can prevent contamination, and thoroughly cleaning buckets and other containers can help, too. Keeping a clean workspace by sweeping or vacuuming is also helpful. As for filtration, you may need to install a supplemental filter that serves to catch additional particles if your washer's filter isn't up to the job. However, keep in mind that filters must be regularly cleaned if they are to provide the benefits you desire. Otherwise, you are only shifting the location of the clog further upstream.