Pressure Washing Glossary of Terms

Answering That Age Old Question

“Just what the heck is a rotary surface cleaner?”

Learn more about pressure cleaning terminology so that you ensure you’re hiring the right person for the job.

Professional Pressure Cleaning Company – a company that specializes in pressure cleaning, its processes, techniques and the art of customer service. This company has trained, courteous and knowledgeable techs that do quality work. This company returns phone calls, does follow ups, is on time and is dependable and reliable year after year. This company is Ultra Pressure Cleaning.

Acrylic Sealing – A solvent-based (acrylic plastic dissolved in xylene for example) sealant for surfaces like pavers, natural stone and roof tiles that binds to and seals the micro pores of your surface adding richness and tremendous protection from mold, the sun and oil.

Adjustable Valve – A high-pressure ball valve that is attached at the very end of the pressure hose and to which the accessory is finally attached. This is very important in that it allows the technician at his fingertips to finely adjust the amount of water flow and pressure coming out of the spray wand (or gun) from full force to a fine gentle spray and everything in between. Having this capacity allows us to gently clean and detail any surface from pool screen enclosures to delicate clay pots, stone surfaces and patio furniture.

Boson’s Chair – Like the swing stage except it is a hanging seat that is suspended over the side of a tall building and enables the person sitting in this chair to reach and clean hard-to-access areas.

Commercial Concentrated Degreaser – A chemical that comes in 55 gallon drums and is used by professional companies (like Ultra Pressure Cleaning) to prepare surfaces like driveways, parking garages and especially restaurants to lift and dissolve oil and grease.

Extendable Wand – An accessory that is essentially the same as the spray wand (or gun) that has the capacity to telescope out and extend to lengths of up to 24 feet. This makes cleaning pool enclosures, second story areas and other difficult to clean places much more effective.

Flow Rate – Equal to or same as gallons per minute. Flow rate is measured as gpm.

GPM (Gallons Per Minute) – The amount of water that is pushed through the hose from the machine’s pump. Its significance is that it is the singularly important statistic that determines how clean something will get. Contrary to popular belief, PSI is not the most important number.

Gum Spots – Often seen as black spots on concrete surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and parking garage floors. Long standing gum spots become very black and very hard. Special techniques and equipment used by Ultra Pressure Cleaning are instrumental in getting rid of these ugly spots (see turbo blast attachment) and require patient, trained techs to methodically remove them.

Hydraulic Lift – A motorized piece of medium to heavy equipment that enables us to work at heights of 20-135 feet and makes cleaning the faces of buildings up to seven or eight stories possible.

Maintenance Plan – A regular recurring cleaning schedule whereby the professional pressure cleaning company visits the client on a set schedule to provide pressure cleaning. Rates are usually discounted to reflect the fact that the client is usually being seen bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly. As an example, Ultra Pressure Cleaning has provided worry-free monthly service for five years to Bonefish Grill in Kendall without missing a single appointment during that time. Dependability is one hallmark of quality and professionalism!

Non-Marking Hose – More expensive but the type of quality hose upon which you must insist so that the hose being dragged across your surfaces won’t leave any scuff marks.

Paint Prep – The most important part of the painting process when painting your residence or commercial structure (please see our paint prep section). Paint prep is the process used by a professional pressure cleaning company like Ultra Pressure Cleaning to prepare the surface to be painted for its primer and subsequent paint. This process is multi-stepped and includes removing oxidized paint (chalky paint), peeling and bubbling paint, dirt, road oils, grime, bug debris and mold/algae. All of which, if left inadequately addressed by the average painting contractor, will cause your expensive paint job to fail.

Portable Machine – As opposed to our large dual axle trailers and truck mounted machines with 500 gallon water tanks, these are much smaller machines (such as those you can rent) that have smaller engines, smaller pumps and hence less cleaning power. Ultra Pressure Cleaning does have and use portables however (though large, very powerful and expensive portables) to clean those very inaccessible areas

Power Rinse – A forceful rinse achieved by using the spray wand (or gun) at a lower pressure or a greater distance from the area just cleaned. Power rinses are essential in leaving a freshly cleaned roof or ground surface free of the dirty runoff water and cleaning sediment.

Pressure Cleaning – The use of equipment that forces water at high pressure through a hose to an accessory that is used to clean a surface.

Pressure Cleaning/Pressure Washing/Power Washing – The various names used to describe the same thing. These names vary by region.

Pressure Cleaning Process – The total process of prepping a surface with chemical or other agents, the pressure cleaning and the post treatments such as whitening of concrete or sanitizing and then the power rinse to leave a clean and fresh surface.

Pressure Hose – Special braided wire and rubber hoses able to withstand the force of water at 3,500 – 5,000 psi generated by large, professional pressure cleaning machines. Ultra Pressure Cleaning has several thousand feet of non-marking pressure hose in 200 foot segments which allows us to clean far from the equipment and access even ten-story rooftops.

PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) – This is the force that comes out of the tip of whatever accessory you are using. Not as important as gpm when evaluating if the company you are looking at has strong enough equipment to do the job.

Rotary Surface Cleaner – An accessory that looks like a circular floor buffer and has two spinning spray heads underneath which rotate at very high speed and provide for very even and efficient cleaning of surfaces like sidewalks, roofs, etc.

Rust Stains/Hard Water Stains – Seen as red or orange stains as in the case of rust and gray to grayish white as with calcium or hard water stains. These stains are ugly and difficult to remove just by pressure cleaning. A chemical process in the hands of our professionals using the correct pH solution will dissolve these stains and allow them then to be power rinsed down the drain!

Rust (and Hard Water) Stain Dissolving Chemical – A solution that we use to chemically dissolve the minerals in the rust or hard water stain. This allows us to use much less pressure and hence more gently treat the surface while completely removing those ugly stains.

Shingle Roof – A type of roofing material that is soft and flexible and is composed of an asphalt base. Pressure cleaning can definitely be done safely and effectively by our trained technicians. Please see our section on roof cleaning.

Spray Wand (or Gun) – An accessory attached to the end of the pressure hose that has a pistol grip and varies in length. The spray wand ends in a colored tip that concentrates the stream of water at high pressure allowing for a skilled technician to clean with great detail.

Swing Stage – a movable platform that hangs from the side of a building and is used to assist in the cleaning of hard to reach tall structures.

Tile Roof – A type of roofing material that is hard and solid. Most often made of concrete or clay (terra-cotta). This roof type can be cleaned safely and effectively by experienced technicians that know how to treat the different types of tile and have experience in carefully walking on tile roofs.

Turbo-Blast Attachment – An attachment added to the end of the spray wand or gun that increases the force of the water emerging and also makes the water pulse at a very high rate. Very effective in the removal of paint and gum spots from surfaces.

Water Sweeping – The technique that I teach all my professional techs which allows them to safely, gently and effectively move accumulated water from place to place. This is important when cleaning areas that are prone to pooling water and sediment buildup and aids tremendously in the rinse stage.

Wood Furring – The fuzzy texture left by the inexperienced or inattentive person cleaning your wood surfaces. Caused by the breakdown of the structure of the wood’s surface by applying too much pressure and/or incorrectly working the grain of the wood.

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