“Kerb Appeal” or the first impression your customer gets of your pub can mean the difference between them coming into your pub or passing you by.
Keeping your outside areas clean and tidy is an important part of your Planned Preventative Maintenance program, but it needn’t break your back or your bank. This guide will show you what to look for in a handy bit of maintenance kit, namely a pressure washer. In a pub environment they can be especially useful for a variety of jobs from cleaning patio areas or decking, fences and guttering, beer garden furniture and even smelly wheelie bins… inside they are perfect for cleaning beer cellars, keg stores, freezer rooms, tiled areas in toilets.
Heavy On The Water
Fantastic as they are, pressurised water cleaners or pressure washers use vast amount of water, so one must use them sparingly and sensibly.
Waterwise have great advice on reducing water usage and waste. For instance, if you’re going to clean your beer garden furniture with a pressure washer, do so on the lawn so the water gets used for two purposes. Also, some devices can be operated from a gravity-fed harvested water source such as a water butt tap.
In most cases, water combined with pressure is enough to dislodge most dirt, though sometimes detergent can help especially when washing decking or cellar floors, so many models have detergent tanks or a bottle attachment.
What you need to look for
The clue is in the title, with all pressure washing systems pressure is key. The higher the pressure the more power is focused on the dirt and the more effective your pressure washer will be. Pressure is measured in ‘bars’ and the specification for each machine will tell you what pressure it is capable of producing, the higher the pressure the more effective the machine. Pressure washers also use electricity so the wattage rating relating to the size of the motor in the washer is also important. Again, the higher the number the better your pressure washer’s performance is likely to be.
As with all the kit we use in pubs their are practical considerations to make, for instance the pressure washer’s weight and whether it comes equipped with wheels. Some machines can be heavy and if, for example, you have a lot of steps in your pub you might want to steer clear from something that is too cumbersome to lug around, or choose one with a longer hose. A longer hose will certainly be useful for larger premises or outside areas.
It is important you use the right attachment for the job you are doing, a wise precaution is to clearly identify the types of jobs you’re going to use the pressure washer for and then invest in a machine that has the relevant attachments. If you choose one with the minimum of attachments included in the price, it’s worth making sure that make/model sells accessories in case you decide you want to buy them at a later date. For example a patio cleaner attachment can be extremely useful as it helps to avoid the problem of simply pushing dirt to the corners of the garden. An added bonus is keeping your clothes dry whilst you work as the attachment are designed to make operation of the pressure washer splash-free.
I’ll not recommend any particular model as each pub and the jobs a pressure washer might be used is unique, however, here are some popular models from a recent online survey to start you off…
The Mac Allister 1300W pressure washer, many stores have models which are exclusive to them, making shopping around impossible. The Mac Allister 1300W pressure washer, which comes with a six-metre hose, 3-in-1 jet/fan/roto lance and a patio cleaner is sold by B&Q and is currently £58.98. If, however, you (or someone you know) are aged over 60, you can save 10% if you or they apply for (or already have) a Diamond Card and do your shopping on Wednesday.
The Kärcher K2 Home has 110bar pressure and can be used on patios, decking, and garden furniture, comes with a detergent suction tube and a variety of nozzles including a “vario lance”, patio cleaner and “dirtblaster”. Amazon was charging £91.99, so shopping around is as important with a pressure washer as any kit you invest in. For a little more you can get their K4 Compact Home pressure washer with 130bar pressure. It’s designed for convenient transportation and storage and comes with a water-cooled induction motor, comes with the above attachments and a detergent suction tube. Kärcher claims to cover a larger surface area in a quicker time than its K2 counterpart, using less water in the process. It can be used from a water butt tap and a static water source (for which separate appliances need to be bought). B&Q offered the best price at £189. The Kärcher K4 Premium Eco!ogic Home is equipped with an eco switch allowing you to reduce energy and water consumption by 20%. This machine is best priced with Amazon at £246.49,
Bosch is launching a new range later this year, but its Aquatak 115 Plus was a Which? best buy. It has 110bar pressure and a built-in detergent tank and price tag of £139.99.
The Nilfisk C130 1.6-Xtra has 115bar pressure with a Tornado vario-fan jet nozzle and pencil jet nozzle, plus detergent bottle. It also has a six-metre pressure washer hose. Nilfisk Advance is currently selling it for £129.99.
(All prices quoted above were current to summer 2013, best to shop around for the best deal at the time you purchase though)
Domestic Vs Commercial Models
Of course the pressure washers listed above are aimed at the domestic or private user; for most of the jobs you might consider using them for in a pub they might prove to be perfectly adequate. In terms of cleaning performance, there is often very little between the best of the domestic range and the industrial models. However, better quality components such as brass cylinder heads, stainless steel pistons and heavier duty hoses and trigger assemblies increase the life expectancy of industrial machines and enable longer and more frequent use. As a general rule of thumb, if you plan to use a pressure washer for more than 100 hours per year (ie 2 hours a week) you should consider an industrial machine. It is often better to buy a basic industrial model that perhaps doesnt have as many accessories than one which has the accessories but is not designed for many hours of continuous use.
If you feel you need “more muscle” then there are commercially rated pressure washers on the market. Whilst being more expensive than their domestic counterparts they also have the advantage of being able to be purchased on lease-hire agreements, which may be consideration in terms of cash flow and tax allowances for your pub business.
Renting Vs Buying
Deciding whether you purchase a pressure washer or hire one on an occasional basis the same rule of thumb might apply on usage, for instance if you think you are likely to be using a pressure washer more than 100 hours per year then perhaps purchasing one is a better one than hiring. One advantage of hiring a pressure washer is not having to pay out for maintaining or servicing the machine as this is the responsibility of the hire company. Only you can decide which rout to take, but do the sums carefully to get the best value for your pub.
Top Tip – one of the most comprehensive list FAQs I have come across can be found here. (This is not an endorsement of their products).