The objective of this procedure is to show you how to safely use pressure washers and cleaners in the workshop. Familiarize yourself with the equipment prior to use, as misuse can cause damage.
Part 1. Preparation and safety
- Safely use pressure washers and cleaners in the workshop.
Whenever you perform a task in the workshop you must use personal protective clothing and equipment that is appropriate for the task and which conforms to your local safety regulations and policies. Among other items, this may include:
- Work clothing - such as coveralls and steel-capped footwear
- Eye protection - such as safety glasses and face masks
- Ear protection - such as earmuffs and earplugs
- Hand protection - such as rubber gloves and barrier cream
- Respiratory equipment - such as face masks and valved respirators
If you are not certain what is appropriate or required, ask your supervisor.
- Wear protective gloves whenever using cleaning agents or solvents.
- Always wear a facemask and gloves when using cleaning and washing equipment.
- Always wear safety shoes when using any washing equipment to prevent slips on slippery surfaces.
- Always be aware of the location of safety switches located on equipment and of eyewash and first aid stations should an accident occur.
- Do not place your hand, or any other part of your body in the stream of water from the high-pressure wand
- Do not aim the high-pressure wand at another person.
- Always test the temperature of the wand and the hose before you pick it up. The handle of the pressure wand is insulated to protect the user from heat, but the wand extension and the hose are not.
- If the pressure cleaner uses a heating element, turn the heater off and allow water to flow through the wand until is has cooled before you turn the unit off.
- If you are unfamiliar with a solvent or a cleaning agent refer to the MSDS for information about its correct use and applicable hazards.
- Always wear protective clothing and the appropriate safety equipment.
- Make sure that you understand and observe all legislative and personal safety procedures when carrying out the following tasks. If you are unsure of what these are, ask your supervisor.
Points to note
- Pressure washers and cleaners used in automotive applications are available in a range of makes and types depending on application. There are fixed washers for cleaning components and mobile pressure washers that can be used to wash vehicle systems and engine bays.
- Make yourself familiar with the equipment prior to use; incorrect handling can result in damage to the vehicle or components that you are cleaning in addition to health risks to yourself and your workmates.
- The biggest advantage of using fluid to clean vehicles, components and workshops is that it wets the dirt or contaminants, so no dust is created. However, the waste products must be caught and disposed of properly in either a tank or sullage pit. The waste materials must not be released into a storm water drain.
- Component washers have to incorporate either an in-built waste recovery system or can only be used where the contaminated washer fluids can be captured to enable disposal in an environmentally friendly manner. They are normally designed to run on low pressure and use a range of chemicals and solvents as the cleaning agent.
- A low-pressure air blower is normally provided to remove the fluid from the component into the tray area and then back to the tank by gravity.
- Always follow recommended safety procedures. Some washers use very dangerous chemicals and others use very high pressure water to clean away the contaminants.
- It is imperative that the user read the instructions beforehand and be familiar with the operation of the pressure washer. When cleaning exterior paintwork, extreme care must be taken to ensure that the pressure does not damage or remove paint. If in doubt, clean the area manually using a clean sponge using fresh clean water.
- It is very important to note the type of solvent being used as some vehicle components can be damaged by some solvents and should only be cleaned in wash tanks containing the correct cleaning fluid.
- When using high pressure washers, it is always important not to use the high pressure spray in areas where the ingress of water and water based solvents can have a detrimental effect on electrical equipment such as fuse boxes and relay units. If you are required to use a pressure washer in an adjacent area of the vehicle, take precautionary measures to protect the units from high-pressure water damage. The damage sometimes does not become apparent for some time after the cleaning process, but can have a catastrophic effect on the vehicle, causing system failures, which are difficult to diagnose.
- If the washer has been used on the braking system, ensure that the vehicle is driven for a small distance with the brakes slightly applied to dispel any residual water from the system through heat transfer and subsequent evaporation of the water.
- On completion of the job, the correct disposal of contaminated materials is an absolute priority. Operatives of equipment may be subject to prosecution for the incorrect disposal of waste materials.
- Familiarize yourself with the equipment prior to use, as misuse can cause damage.
- Avoid using solvent when cleaning components as it contaminates friction materials and may cause seals to swell. Water is a good cleaning agent for brake components.
- Never use Kerosene as a general cleaning agent to clean brake components as it does not clean away brake fluid, can be absorbed into lining materials and can cause seals to swell.
- Whenever using a pressure washer or tank type cleaner with solvents and cleaners make sure there is adequate exhaust ventilation. Wear appropriate breathing apparatus and eye protection.
Part 2: Step-by-step instruction
- Choose the correct washer
Use the correct washer for the task you are performing, and always refer to the manufacturers manual for specific operating instructions. Before using the equipment locate the position of safety switches and put on a facemask and gloves. Note the location of the eyewash and first aid stations within the workshop. Use a component washer to clean items that can be safely contained within the cleaning tray. Use a pressure washer to clean vehicles, engines and engine bays.
- Use a component washer
Make sure that all the washing fluid is contained within the cleaning tray and returns to the reservoir. Washing solvents must not enter the environment. Before using the component cleaner, make sure the solvent is compatible with the component to be cleaned. Put on a facemask and gloves and lift the component to be cleaned into the wash tray. Make sure the waste drain is not blocked and the low-pressure air blower is operational.
- Clean and dry the component
Using a stiff brush, paint the solvent over the components to both wet and clean the components and remove contaminants. Use the low-pressure air blower to dry excess solvent from the component,
and make sure the waste materials are caught in the cleaning tray and strained back into the tank below.
- Use a high-pressure washer
Follow the manufacturers instructions and connect the pressure washer hose to the mains pressure water supply, and the electrical plug to an earth leakage protected power outlet. Make sure electrical connections and adjacent areas are protected from water spray by using appropriate protective shields. Put on a facemask and gloves and turn on the water supply but not the electrical power. Make sure that water is flowing through the washer unit by testing the flow through the pressure wand before turning the power on. It should flow freely but not at high pressure.
- Turn the power on
Turn the power on and you will hear the motor engage. Point the wand toward the ground and test that the water now flows at high pressure.
- Use a degreaser
It may be necessary to apply a degreasing agent with a hand brush to penetrate and remove excess dirt before you operate the washer.
- Clean the component
Pull the trigger and using a circular motion direct the high-pressure water onto the area to be cleaned to remove the contaminants. Avoid getting the high-pressure spray on the exterior paintwork of the vehicle by placing the wand close to the area to be cleaned. When the contaminants have been removed, release the trigger and then remove the wand from the cleaning area. Turn the electrical power off then turn the water supply off.
- Check vehicle operation
Use an air blower to disperse any residual water from electrical components that have come into contact with the cleaning fluids, and then start the vehicle. Let the vehicle run for a few moments to dry, and then remove any residual water lying in the engine bay area. Clean up any residual material and place in a bin or an environmental waste container.