The Pressure Washer Dilemma

As many of you may know from this video:

“How To Screen Print: Washing Out The Stencil & Reclaiming”


My pressure washer had broken the day I chose to make this video. It was a real inconvenience and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do the video. Then I decided to use the same screen I used to show how to wash out the stencil, to show how to reclaim the screen. I knew the screen would reclaim with just a garden hose. Why? Because the screen was never used, still wet and had not had a chance for the emulsion to fully dry and set into the mesh. This will not be the case with used screens or screens that have been sitting with emulsion on them for extended periods of time. A pressure washer is needed to be able to handle any reclaiming situation that occurs in your shop.

Now to the point of this blog entry. The reason my pressure washer broke was because it was a $100 Husky unit made for household usage. These lower end home owner’s type pressure washers are not really designed to withstand the industrial use in a screen shop. The most common problem with these home units is the diaphragm that controls water flow to the compressor and finally to the spray gun. I am not certain of the details but the diaphragm gets severe abuse from the constant on and off that occurs in screen making. The water compressor may also burn out simply from extended usage. Over heating can also be a problem for home units as well as insufficient pressure. 

So the big dilemma comes in trying to decide which pressure washer to purchase for your needs. For most screen shop applications you will want an electric unit. If you are just starting out and only reclaim 3 or 4 screens each week, then a home owner’s unit might be fine and last about a year. If you reclaim 4 to 6 screens a day a home owner’s unit would burn out in less than 6 months. The industrial electrical units made for screen making and other industrial uses can cost in excess of $800. An intermediate unit from Home Depot may be around $450 but may not be electric. These are educated ballpark figures. See links for more information.

I ended up having to compromise and I bought a high grade home owner’s unit for about $200. It is a Husky and has a 2 year warranty but in order to get warranty claims the unit is only to be used for household purposes. So because I have a limited budget, if the unit brakes, I would have to omit the fact that I am using it for commercial applications. Shhhh! Don’t tell….

The bottom line is if you have the money to invest in an industrial pressure washer, do it. It will pay off in the end in its durability and ability to be repaired easily rather than be replaced. If you are just starting out or have a limited budget like myself, try to find the highest grade homeowners unit with the best warranty.

There is a new video on reclaiming and de-hazing screens using a pressure washer in the works.

Good Luck my Friends!

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