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:
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:
And here is the finished product — a set of clean 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:
And then she continues onward:
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?