Expanding Into High Pressure Washing
Opportunities to sell high pressure washing services exist on every block in America and in most foreign countries. In the United States alone there are upward of 11 million businesses and over 100 million private homes that are potential customers for your services.
The portable high pressure washer has brought a new era to the cleaning industry. This technology allows for more thorough and less expensive cleaning of a wider variety of surfaces than ever before. New markets and profit opportunities are being developed daily by ambitious cleaning professionals everywhere.
All types of buildings, mobile homes, roofs, sidewalks, driveways, trucks, airplanes, and heavy equipment are a few of the many possibilities where water under pressure can be used to efficiently and effectively remove unwanted soil or contaminants from surfaces.
All pressure washers use a motor, pump, relief valve, hose, and spray gun with a nozzle on the end of it. Each item can vary in size, capacity, and exact function depending on your needs and budget, but the process and the result remain pretty much the same. The motor drives the pump which forces the water through a small orifice called a nozzle. This separates the water into small droplets which hit a surface at high speed, forcing the soil to move with the stream of water.
Start-up costs can range from less than $1000.00 for a used pressure washer to more than $30,000 for a color coordinated, trailer mounted, self-contained washer with the ability to produce over 10,000 PSI and turn water into steam.
Services You Can Sell
The only constraints regarding use relate to possible damage from excess water or too much pressure, and concerns with the disposal of contaminated waste water. In recent years the equipment has improved considerably. Many options are available that allow you to fully adjust pressure, nozzle size, and add chemicals or abrasives to the water stream. With more emphasis on proper waste disposal, systems are now available to contain, remove, dispose of, or in some cases, recycle the spent solution and displaced soil.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the most common services and tasks pressure washing equipment is used for:
1. Flat Surface Cleaning
Includes parking lots and garages, sidewalks and other paved or concrete areas. Most cleaners use cold water at 1000 to 2500 psi. If a lot of oil and grease is present, apply a degreaser type chemical to the surface. Letting it dwell for a few minutes and agitating with a stiff brush before washing will give you better results. On concrete you can use hot water and turn up the pressure. On asphalt you need to avoid the use of chemicals and should keep the pressure low to prevent damage to the surface. Be especially careful around cracks and areas that are deteriorated. When working large areas it may save time and give better results if you use a water broom or spinning head type spray unit.
In all instances, waste water control is important as it will contain oil and grease residue which is considered hazardous waste and must not be allowed to go down a storm sewer drain. This waste must be disposed of properly to avoid liability, fines and fouling of fresh water streams and lakes.
2. House Washing
This is a good service to offer in residential areas with middle to upper income level families. If people have nice cars and take good care of their lawns, they are also concerned about the appearance of their homes.
Most cleaners use cold water at 1000 to 2000 psi, with an acid wash and an alkaline rinse. Hot water and physical agitation may be needed if there is mildew, fly specks, or tree residue.
Start washing on the rear of the garage or home. This allows you some practice to figure out the exact process to use before doing the front of the house, which is more visible.
3. Shopping Malls
These can be good accounts, but price as well as quality is always a concern. Areas that need service include parking lots, side walks, loading docks, garbage dumpsters, building exteriors, roofs, awnings and windows. The work is best done late at night when customers are not in the way and your equipment is not busy elsewhere.
4. Manufacturing Facilities
The work is hard and dirty, but there is a lot of it in most every city. Contact the purchasing agent and maintenance director to see what type of services they use or that you might be able to offer. Typical projects include preparing surfaces for painting, cleaning production line equipment and tanks, and washing walls, docks, sidewalks and driveways.
5. Truck, Vehicle and Heavy Equipment Washing
This is probably the most common repeat customer, since vehicles get dirty quickly and need washing every week or two. Normally you bid on a set fee contract, so the key is to get in and out quickly. This work requires the application of chemicals, a scrub of all surfaces with a soft brush, and the use of a washer with up to 2500 psi and the ability to generate hot water. Larger companies with a lot of vehicles on the road are your best prospects.
6. Kitchen Hood and Duct Cleaning
This is nasty work, but a necessary for all restaurants that prepare cooked food. Your services are cheaper than getting shut down by the health department or put out of business due to a fire.
7. Graffiti Removal
Commercial and residential properties in cities of all sizes are targets for taggers marking their territory or promoting their cause. High pressure washing is a common and effective method of removing paint from a variety of surfaces without permanent damage. Be careful of overspray since removal chemicals take the paint off of any surface they land on. Some companies specialize in graffiti removal, while others offer it as sideline to their regular washing work.
The following specialized pressure washing services require additional training and equipment:
- High Rise Work & Building Exterior Cleaning
- Masonry Cleaning and Restoration
- Tank and Pipe Cleaning
- Sewer Jetting
- Wood Deck and Exterior Restoration
- Abrasive Water Jetting
As you can see, high pressure washing services are varied and can be marketed to all types and sizes of properties and organizations. This is an excellent add-on for existing cleaning services as well as a good business opportunity for those wishing to start a cleaning related business on a full or part-time basis.
Pricing and Profit
Start-up and operating costs are low for most pressure washing services. Your highest costs will be labor, and your biggest problem will be marketing your services so you can generate the income you need on a full time basis.
On an average, washers charge $45.00 to $90.00 per hour for their services, although a lot of work is bid on a fix rate price.
Common pricing examples include the following:
Cars .50 to $2.00 each
Trucks $5.00 to $30.00 each
Trailer Houses $1.00 to $2.00 per foot
House Washing .10 to .20 per sq. foot
Cedar Shakes $200 to $400 per roof
Parking Lots .03 to .15 per sq. foot
Kitchen Hoods & Ducts $100 to $250
Resources For More Information
If you are unfamiliar with this type of work, you may wish to hire an experienced individual to work with you to learn the basics. However, like most other cleaning specialties, much of your real skill will come from on the job experience. There is no better way to learn than by doing.
To assist you in the learning process, the following list of resources is provided:
Power Washer’s Application Guidebook
Advantage Publishing Co.
Phone: (800) 443-3433
Masonry Cleaning & High Pressure Washing
Power Washer’s Guidebook
Phone: (206) 682-9748
Power Washers of North America
International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association
Phone: (202) 638-2031
Catalogs: Chemicals and Equipment
Delco Cleaning Systems
Phone: (800) 433-2113
Mail Order Pressure Washing Equipment
Phone: (800) 241-2197
Wolman Wood Care
Home Certification Course
on deck care, wood roofs, siding, etc.
Phone: (412) 227-2427