Today I’m going to show you how to match a pressure washer nozzle (also called spray tip) to your cleaning surface to ensure a fast, thorough clean with no damage.
Choose the wrong nozzle (spray tip) and you could:
- Peel the paint off your car
- Damage your wood deck
- Punch through the mortar of your brick driveway requiring costly repairs.
Choose the right nozzle and it almost doesn’t matter the PSI and GPM of your unit – you’ll get the clean you desire – because the nozzle is what creates the pressure in pressure washer. Here’s how nozzles create pressure:
The Importance of Nozzles During Pressure Washing
Picture being out in your front yard with the garden hose in your right hand and water flowing out the tip. Maybe you’re watering the garden…
…You want to reach the plants 15-ft from where you are. The problem is the stream from the hose is weak and barely reaches 5-ft. So what do you do? You use your thumb to block off 3/4 of the opening. Now all the water is forced to exit through the smaller orifice.
What does the water do? Well, it speeds up. And because of Mr. Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, we know more velocity means more distance. Now the water reaches those plants 15-ft away.
This is the gist how a nozzle works. Restrict the flow, increase the velocity. And that increase is what cause the cleaning power and force of the pressure washer water spray.
Just like you use different grits of sandpaper when sanding down wood – you need to use different nozzles for different jobs. Here’s the 7 types of nozzles to choose from:
The 7 Types Of Pressure Washer Nozzles
All pressure washers come out-of-the-box with 3-4 color coded nozzle tips.
- The 0-degree shoots a direct jet of water onto the surface. When the jet hits the surface it hits with the area of a quarter coin. It does not sheet or fan out the water spray at all
- The 15-degree creates a 15-degree wide sheet of water spray at the nozzle. Once the spray hits the surface the pressure is less because it’s force is spread over a larger area
- The 25-degree is an even larger sheet or fan of water than 15-degree nozzle thus causing even less pressure on the surface
- The 40-degree is the most gentle spray. Held at the right distance you would use a 40-degree nozzle to clean windows.
It should be noted that backing away from the surface with a certain degree nozzle further reduces the pressure on it.
- The general rule is that with a doubling of distance is a halving of force.
Here’s some more detail on each nozzle type:
0° Red Tip Nozzle – Maximum Blast
- Rarely used because its spray covers so little area (and force so high making it unsafe to use on many surfaces) that it would take forever to clean anything
- There are situation when it could be used for removing very tough caked on mud from construction equipment, or rust, or holding at the right distance stains from high strength concrete
- A turbo nozzle mimics a red tip force but is much more useful to use
15° Yellow Tip Nozzle – Medium Stripping
- Used to preparing surfaces for painting
- Used from the right distance can be great at removing tough mud and dirt from 4x4s
25° Green Tip Nozzle – Gentle Lifting and Cleaning
- Probably the most common nozzle tip to use for around the home
- Great for boat, car, patio furniture and driveways
- Because it creates a nice wide sheet of water it cleaners a greater area faster
40° White Tip Nozzle – Minimum Spraying
- Great for fragile surface like windows and blinds
Soaping Black Tip Nozzle
- The soaping tip nozzle is special because it not only has the widest degree (~65°) but also a larger orifice. It needs a larger orifice to decrease velocity thus increasing pressure in the hose. This increase in pressure pulls detergent into the line so you can apply soap to the surface for an easier clean
- One of the most useful nozzles because it combines the force of the 0-degree nozzle with the spray area of a 25-degree nozzle and adds in a pulsing action by rotating the water jet at 1800 – 3000 rpm.
- When it hits the surface it creates a round cone shape (it rotates the jet so quick it appears as a cone like a orange safety cone coming from the nozzle tip)
- The woman in the picture above is using a variable nozzle. It is 5 nozzles in one that you can adjust in real-time.
How To Pick The Perfect Nozzle For Your Cleaning Job
Here’s 4 steps to follow before you begin pressure washing ANY surface:
- Use common sense when selecting a nozzle
- Start with a wider angle nozzle
- Keep your distance to start
- Always test on a small area of the surface.
If it’s your first time pressure cleaning you’ll notice pretty quick how intuitive it is. You’ll naturally not want to damage the surface so keep the distance naturally. As you get comfortable move a bit closer and be sure to keep an eye that you’re not damaging the surface.
If the surface is stubborn, first move the spray closer to the surface because distance is the easiest way to adjust the effective pressure. If it’s still not working change to a more intense nozzle and when you start cleaning again be sure to start 4-ft from the surface moving closer as described above.
Use a pin to clear the nozzle before each use.