Pressure tactics!

Unlike many guys who just love power tools (and you know who you are), I am not attracted to them for three reasons: (1) they cost money; (2) they take up space; and most disturbingly, (3) they usually require some work on the part of the owner.

However, we just may have discovered another essential power tool.

Regular readers of RFD might recall that my wife Jan and I have bought a hydraulic log-splitter as well as a chain saw, and have used both tools frequently during the Greater Daglan Area winter. (Jan particularly enjoys splitting logs for our wood burner, and even uses the splitter to create little splinters and wood bits for kindling.)

Our latest experiment involved using a high-pressure water cleaner — not for cleaning water, just to be clear, but to clean off the rock that surrounds us. In particular, it seems that we will regularly need to water-blast the travertine we had installed on our front steps, because it tends to get not only dirty and gritty but also covered in lichen and moss and similar beasties. And our stone-paved quartier, or immediate area, gets surprisingly dusty and dirty, despite the fact that we live in a small village in the middle of fields and forests.

Karcher seems to be the brand name that’s best known for these kinds of cleaners. Essentially, these pressure washers are machines with electric pumps that turn your garden-hose water supply into a powerful jet for cleaning cars, boats, patios, decks and other possessions. In our case, the target is all the travertine that covers our steps and the cobblestones in our street.

Here’s a look at the actual pressure washer that we borrowed from friend Suzanne. It’s not a Karcher, but a brand called Nilfisk:

The machine, all plugged in and ready to go.

The machine, all plugged in and ready to go.

Once we were almost ready to get started this morning, I had to attach a new end to our hose to make it fit the machine, and then I gave the pressure washer a try. It sort of worked, but didn’t seem very powerful — until we realized that we hadn’t actually turned on the electric pump, and the “jet” was just our normal water pressure. Then we flipped the switch, and the Nilfisk really did blast away.

In this next photo, Jan is at work, shooting water at the front steps, and stirring up quite a lot of dirt:

The blasting water cleans off the grim and muck.

The blasting water cleans off the grim and muck.

And here is the finished product — a set of clean steps:

Our newly cleaned front steps.

Our newly cleaned front steps.

Using a high-pressure cleaner, however, is a bit like eating popcorn or peanuts: Once you start, it’s very hard to stop. So in this photo, Jan has started to tackle the street right in front of our house:

Now it's the street in front of our steps.

Now it’s the street in front of our steps.

And then she continues onward:

Now it's a matter of tackling the area in front of our cave door.

Now it’s a matter of tackling the area in front of our cave door.

At this point, at about 10:30 a.m., I headed off on my road bike for Castelnaud, about 10 kilometres north of Daglan. At the La Plage café, I lingered over an espresso and then headed back home — where I found Jan still cleaning the area in front of our house.

Her sandals were sopping wet by this point, but the pressure tactics seemed to have worked well — the street in front of our house was nice and bright. So the only question seems to be: keep borrowing the machine, or buy one?

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8 Responses to Pressure tactics!

  1. Suzanne says:

    I find it quite therapeutic. Sad or wot?

  2. loren24250 says:

    Not in the least sad, Suzanne — it really is totally habit-forming, and therapeutic. I think it’s like having the ability to harness the power of a waterfall, without actually having to do very much. (That’s my kind of job.) Thanks!

  3. Radio Free Brighton says:

    Loren, you are absolutely right – they are the ultimate omni-purpose addictive tool.
    Until you have had one, you are just not aware of the things that absolutely must be power sprayed.
    Mine has been used for:
    • Cleaning the roof terrace;
    • Washing windows ;
    • Washing soffits (I am lying here because I have absolutely no idea what a soffit is);
    • Watering my roof. More correctly watering everyone’s roof within range;
    • Dissuading the barbeque from doing its Towering Inferno impression;
    • Deterring seagulls;
    • Washing seagulls that refused to be deterred;
    • Ditto next door neighbours cat;
    • Convincing neighbours that there is rain in the air;
    • Degunging son’s flip-flops after visit to pub;
    • Sobering up son after visit to pub;
    • Keeping partner cool when she is sun bathing – honestly!;
    • Spider juggling;
    • Involuntary rhinoplasty (non-surgical. Initially);
    • Irrigation (I’m glad I’m using semi colons…);
    • Making pretty rainbows in the air.
    …… and with 2 you can play water hockey!

  4. loren24250 says:

    We at Radio Free Daglan know that we can always count on the team at Radio Free Brighton to provide additional, valuable insights into the topics we explore. Jan and I will be seriously considering all the tasks you suggest, and in fact if you don’t mind lending us your son after his next visit to a pub, we’ll be glad to give him a wash. And his flip flops, of course. Thanks much!

  5. Tool Time says:

    The power washer is on the top 5 list of manly tools a man should own. Think about it, you are combining water and electricity and power! That usually equals danger but not for you because you control the beast. Words of caution though, I would not use on soffits (you never want to spray water up into your attic) also do not use near rubber things like car tires, that the pressure can cut, or to clean your bike that does not like to have water forced into the bearings.

    In no particular order other manly tools would include;

    Air Wrench
    Snow Blower
    That Jack Hammer thing you were using to reno your kitchen
    My current favourite is an Inspection Scope (but only if you get it on sale)

    • loren24250 says:

      Tool Time, you make some great points. Fortunately, here in the GDA, a snow blower is definitely not on anyone’s list of manly tools. As for an air wrench, I find that our air is already tight enough. And my problem with an Inspection scope is that I’d have to understand whatever it was that I was inspecting, which would be doubtful. But the power washer and the “jack hammer thing” are definites.

  6. Lesley says:

    In spite of it being Jan using the Nilfisk/Karcher with a will, they always make a really clean spot that has to be enlarged until all the area is as clean. This does take a long time.
    Tool Time (Tim the toolman?) has the ultimate list of outdoors kit, but a good toaster, bottle openner and a good useable knife sharpener are my kitchen musts.

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks Lesley — excellent points. My personal favourite in the kitchen area is a device that kind of looks like a nutcracker, but is actually used for twisting the corks out of Champagne bottles. Works beautifully every time!

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