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Precise Pressure Washing

A bit of advice needed from across the pond..

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Hi Guys, 

 

Just joined, but have had a read through some posts, very interesting stuff. As you probably know, Soft Washing hasn't really taken off here yet, There are a couple of companies that are soft washing roofs, but it is a niche market, as most home owners want instant results, hence having their roofs pressure washed instead of waiting for any kind of chemical to work. (most, if not all roofs here are cement tile/clay tile) 

 

I have a rudimentary system set up, mainly for applying chemicals in other areas of my business (applying algaecide to driveways after cleaning) but i was hoping to start building a more robust system, so i can use it for roofs, applying chemical to cladding (i think you guys call it siding, its what factories are built from, ribbed metal sheets) 

 

First of all, I'm only using a 5 litre per minute/100psi pump, not sure what that is in GPM but i know from research I'm going to need at LEAST 5GPM pump. Any specific PSI needed? Also want to keep it 12v, as i run a second battery in the back of my van, that is charged from the van batter when i drive, and space in my van is at a premium. 

 

the second biggest question, is nozzles. The nozzle i use to apply my algaecide is just a general jet wash nozzle, which works fine at ground level, but what is the best nozzle to shoot higher? So if i need to clean some cladding that is 2/3 stories, I can shoot the soap from the ground?

 

I am quite handy with the fittings and hoses etc.. its just mainly the pump and nozzles I'm stuck on. 

 

Also, in previous posts, i have heard talk of two way valves being used. What are you guys using them for? I'm assuming the 12v pump will have a dead-end circuit on it, so when you aren't pulling the trigger, the pump will pressurize and stop running? Can't really see where a two way valve would fit in. 

 

Any help would be much appreciated, and i look forward to soaking in all the knowledge!

 

Cheers, 

 

Matt

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Welcome Matt.  You're now the second (that I can recall) from Scotland to join.  (My ancestors came from there, so I'm eager to help  :-)

 

Have a look at the kits available here.  They're essentially the basis of most 12v set ups.   You can buy one of those from Bob (owner of PressureTek) or piece together your own.  We run anywhere from 40psi to about 80 psi, depending on the circumstances.

 

Nozzle selection must be done carefully, otherwise the pumps will be restricted (not good).

 

My trucks are outfitted with the kurit-tec hoses and 5850 pumps, just like in one of the 'kits'.

 

This should keep you busy with a little online research.  PM me if I can answer any specific questions.

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Welcome! I think marketing the soft wash process to your clients will be a matter of education. This means you will need to really really know your stuff. That means reading reading and then reading more. This is THE place for roof cleaning technical knowledge on the web. Anybody with Asphalt roofs is unquestionably going to be yours for the taking, just show them the manufacturer's cleaning guidelines that say no pressure washing. For tile roofs, Chris from Apple, the founder of this forum and one of the founders in this entire industry, is THE go to guy for tile. They are very very rare in my area of the country. Once the clients realize that the method you use is much better for the roofs, you will get the business. Instant gratification equals damage. We can give you a perfectly clean roof today, and take ten years off the life of the roof...or we can clean it properly and extend the life of your roof. Which method would you prefer Mr/Ms. customer?

 

As for pumps...the two most popular 12V roof cleaning pumps are the Delavan Fatboy 2 and the FloJet Pentaflex. The Delavan 5850 mentioned above is a very good little pump but won't give you much more volume than you have now. To get the reach, you will try to crank the pressure up, but the higher the pressure is, the lower the volume, so ultimately if you aren't reaching with your current pump, it probably won't quite do it. It IS a far more reliable pump than the Fatboy or Pentaflex, however they do give you more reach. The Fatboy and Pentaflex are, real world, about 4.5 GPM pumps at 60 PSI, the normal pressure setting. Is that enough to do a large, steep moss covered roof...kinda sorta. The reach is limited. To increase the reach, run a larger 5/8" hose which will lower the inline losses. What you don't want to do if you opt for the bigger electrics is crank the pressure up. Those pumps will eat thru the battery like crazy as the voltage draw goes ballistic and their heat load goes crazy. Cranking up the pressure on those pump is a great way to blow thru pumps. You can get away with it on the 5850 because it has a smaller motor...but even that pump will jump in voltage draw. It is the nature of the beast. 

 

Will either one reach a 3 story roof edge from the ground? No. Cladding? Kinda/sorta. To reach high/tall structures requires reach which means volume. Volume restricted down equals pressure and that translates into reach. To shoot a 3 story building from the ground EFFECTIVELY requires a larger pump or much higher pressure. In that, the electric is not ideal. If you do a lot of siding/cladding washes, investing in either a gas powered soft wash rig or using an X-Jet on your PW rig is your better bet than trying to use an electric roof pump for bigger buildings. 

 

As an alternative, you may want to consider going to the setup a lot of guys who deal with larger/taller/steeper/moss covered roofs and buildings use. These are are air pumps, also known as AODD (Air Operated Dual Diaphragm). AODD pumps can move a LOT more fluid than electric pumps...at least in a portable setup. The smallest 3/8" air pump can move about 50% more fluid than a Fatboy or Pentaflex. Most guys run 1/2 inch pumps which on a large enough compressor translates into about 14 GPM. And they get a lot bigger than that. I currently run 1" AODD pumps with a 20 CFM truck mount compressor. That translates thru to about 20 GPM. I am upgrading to a 2" AODD pump...that is about 38 GPM. While there is no way I will be pumping 38 GPM because I run 3/4" spray line, what it will do is give me tremendous reach and volume for rinsing when run with an open end. That being said, Air pumps require an air compressor and are a bit more specialized, so it means purchasing another piece of equipment and a bit more planning. However, most of the guys who run them love them. They are far more reliable due to the fact that the ones typically used are built out of chemical proof materials such as Kynar (PVDF),  where as the Fat Boy and Pentaflex pumps are built from materials that the SH WILL eventually eat thru. Nearly everybody who runs those pumps will keep a spare on hand as a backup along with relays and pressure switches. Do a search for Bruce Sullivan and his recent post on his setup for the electric pump. It is a LOT more reliable than the relays the pumps come with. 

 

IMG_0587_zpsc8c93f2b.jpg

 

1" AODD Pump Setup. 
 
IMG_1538_zpsa6b4d75f.jpg
 
3/8" vs 1" AODD Pumps. 3/4" spray line. 
 
fatboy_zps6a549619.jpg
FatBoy Pump
 
As for rinsing...which you will want to do if you have a lot of moss, there are two ways to go. First is to use a much larger AODD setup and a good sized rinse tank...which you likely already have for your Pressure washer rig as a buffer tank. This gets you a lot of volume for rinsing. 
 
Second, you can use a water booster pump. A 1 to 1.5 HP water booster pump boosts the water pressure from your garden hose spigot on the house. It requires mains power to run. You will get between 8-12 GPM of water thru a 5/8 or 3/4" spray hose and this is enough to do a pretty effective job at rinsing the moss off a roof. The ones we use are not translatable thru to you because they are all 120 Volt 60 hz. The electric roof pumps can be purchased from the states. As for AODD pumps, I do have some used pumps in a number of different sizes  if you are interested in going that route. 

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I didn't say it wouldn't do it...I said it wasn't ideal. Big difference. I ran Fatboy pumps for three years so I have a fair bit of experience with them cleaning roofs in an environment fairly similar to Scotland (high moss, steep pitch roofs). And yes I've been to,Scotland several times. Northwest coast is one of my favorite places on earth.

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I don't know but i have done 4 stories with my 5850, haven't noticed any shorter life yet either boosting the pressure on the pump.  The advice above is all theory based imho.  

 

i used to easily downstream 4-5 stories with a 0030 with extension wands = more aerodynamic / better stream.  There are cheaper much better solutions like wand extentions (only 2-4 feet) to get higher areas.

 

a massive air rig system like yours peak is really only feasible one for "spray all day" jobs.  I only do a handful of massive strata roof sprays in the year which in turn is not a smart investment.  There are so many more small strata / houses where i live in Chilliwack.  Most house contracts i do now is bulk moss removal with a pool broom, gutter clean, and spray/no rinse  (1-2 hours of work).  It's a more realistic roof cleaning bill for the customer and we can get more done in a day.  500-700 per house and we can do 4-6 in 1 day.  I used to aim more on rinsing the whole roof after spray but the prices go over $1000.00 per roof (average 2 story roof clean).   

 

Also our booster pumps do close to 16 gpm, connected to 2 or 3 water outlet sources on the homeowners property.  We use Leader pumps with a hydrotronic.   :)  nobody wants to haul water, we only do if the town has a water reserve with high calcium andor high PPM.  

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Hi guys, and thanks for the warm welcome and all the info so far. Very helpful!

 

I do have tanks etc already for my pressure washing rig, and my rig is diesel powered with a 12v battery for ignition, it has an alternator on the rig to charge the battery when I'm running, and also have a 12v battery spare that is charged from the van, so the 12v pump route is definitely the way i want to go. I couldn't squeeze another broom in my van, let alone a air compressor. 

 

The fatboy pumps look like something im after, although not sure what GPM they run at? I was hoping to run a higher GPM and maybe a little higher PSI (maybe 150?) and have a selection of nozzles. I know i can reduce the nozzle to reduce the flow, so i would rather have too much flow/distance and then be able to reduce it, rather than turn up to a job and not have enough reach fro the chems. 

 

Do you guys use standard pressure washing nozzles? I have seen all kinds of different nozzles over there in the states, soap shooters (for downstreaming i think?) adjustable soft washing nozzles (i saw a stainless nozzle that you twist which gives you spray/jet on a previous post here) and everything in between. What nozzles do you guys use for long distance spraying? I'm not looking for a perfect spray pattern, just larger droplets for drift control, and some decent reach. 

 

Also, I have seen "accumulators" in line on soft wash systems. What exactly does the accumulator do? 

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Just to add, Soft washing over here, is going to be all about educating the client, as Peak mentioned. It's a hard sell at the moment, though I HAVE come across a handful of home owners that realised the potential for the shortening of the life of their roof, and insisted on the soft wash method. Most, if not all home owners want instant results, and don't want to part with a significant amount of cash while their roof is still dirty, but I'm slowly grinding away at the education side of things. 

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Just to add, Soft washing over here, is going to be all about educating the client, as Peak mentioned. It's a hard sell at the moment, though I HAVE come across a handful of home owners that realised the potential for the shortening of the life of their roof, and insisted on the soft wash method. Most, if not all home owners want instant results, and don't want to part with a significant amount of cash while their roof is still dirty, but I'm slowly grinding away at the education side of things. 

 

Clients put trust into a professional company that has a good reputation.  When they see all the algae is gone and moss looks like cotton balls they clearly know its completely dead and will come off with the weather.  Most pick that method to save a few hundred bucks

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Hi guys, and thanks for the warm welcome and all the info so far. Very helpful!

 

I do have tanks etc already for my pressure washing rig, and my rig is diesel powered with a 12v battery for ignition, it has an alternator on the rig to charge the battery when I'm running, and also have a 12v battery spare that is charged from the van, so the 12v pump route is definitely the way i want to go. I couldn't squeeze another broom in my van, let alone a air compressor. 

 

The fatboy pumps look like something im after, although not sure what GPM they run at? I was hoping to run a higher GPM and maybe a little higher PSI (maybe 150?) and have a selection of nozzles. I know i can reduce the nozzle to reduce the flow, so i would rather have too much flow/distance and then be able to reduce it, rather than turn up to a job and not have enough reach fro the chems. 

 

Do you guys use standard pressure washing nozzles? I have seen all kinds of different nozzles over there in the states, soap shooters (for downstreaming i think?) adjustable soft washing nozzles (i saw a stainless nozzle that you twist which gives you spray/jet on a previous post here) and everything in between. What nozzles do you guys use for long distance spraying? I'm not looking for a perfect spray pattern, just larger droplets for drift control, and some decent reach. 

 

Also, I have seen "accumulators" in line on soft wash systems. What exactly does the accumulator do? 

 

Some prefer the slightly smaller Delavan 5850 pump, over the Fat Boy. The Fat Boy has almost too much flow, and when you put a smaller nozzle on it, it will cycle on and off quite a lot.

An accumilator will help some, but it is another extra connection, and potential leak source.

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Q. The fatboy pumps look like something im after, although not sure what GPM they run at? I was hoping to run a higher GPM and maybe a little higher PSI (maybe 150?) and have a selection of nozzles. I know i can reduce the nozzle to reduce the flow, so i would rather have too much flow/distance and then be able to reduce it, rather than turn up to a job and not have enough reach fro the

******

A. The GPM rating on the Fatboy depends on the pressure setting. Most set it at 60 PSI. At that pressure it is about 3.5-4.5 GPM (remember, what you see are open pump ratings and do not account for lift or hose insertion losses). Those pumps are pressure limited to 100 psi. It is NOT recommended you turn it that high. Why? First, flow reduces significantly as pressure increases. At 100PSI, the FB is a 2 GPM pump real world. Also, look at the voltage draw. It goes ballistic. You jump from 17 amps at 60 to 25 at 100. A Fatboy capable of 150 PSI would be a 1 Gallon pump that drew 50 Amps of power. it would also cook itself to death. Heat load increases exponentially as pressure increases.

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Reducing the flow down thru nozzle size....therein lies a significant weakness with electric pumps. Electric pumps are designed to run at a specific pressure. That pressure is set by the pressure switch. When it reaches the set pressure the switch triggers a relay to shut the pump off. When you open the spray end valve, the pressure in the system drops, triggering the pressure switch to trigger the relay and turn the pump on. This is where things go bad. Think about what happens when you put a very small, restricted nozzle on the end of your spray line. A small nozzle flows a small amount of fluid. This saves you on chemicals and is better for the foliage, etc. Sounds Great right? Yes! But...

From a pump standpoint, what is happening? The nozzle flows a small amount of fluid, the pump sees a small pressure drop in the line and the pressure switch triggers. The pump turns on but since there is so little volume going thru the line and a tiny pressure drop, the pressure is immediately restored and the pressure switch immediately turns off. As you continue to spray, the system cycles rapidly....on off on off on off as a tiny amount of pressure drops and is rapidly restored. This is a problem. It generates a LOT of heat in the relay. The relays literally weld themselves. And...you are down. It also creates excess wear in the pressure switch. Running small nozzles is the fastest way to guarantee cursing on the job site with a FB or FB2. This means your nozzle selection is going to fall in a narrow range due to the nature of the beast.

Using Bruce Sullivan's Solenoid setup is more reliable, but remember, his spraying method and material (cedar) is different than asphalt. We are Sullivan Cedar cleaners as well and use a lot more material spraying cedar. Plus the mix for cedar is a completely different animal than asphalt or tile, so an electric pump can work okay in that type of rig (Give me time to work on him for air). He still swaps pumps yearly. Even if you switch to a solenoid setup....and you are crazy not to....you can still toast a solenoid with constant short cycling and you will still fry pressure switches (always have spares on hand).

I will note, at the risk of being accused of being a fanboy...,which I am...that there is no issue with nozzle sizing on air pumps. Tiny 010 orifice spray nozzles or fully wide open, they just just don't care. We sprayed an entire roof on Saturday on an 1600" sq foot house using 020 nozzles.. It was nearly 100% GM and almost no moss....rare for our area. We used 8 gallons of mix.

***

Q: Do you guys use standard pressure washing nozzles? I have seen all kinds of different nozzles over there in the states, soap shooters (for downstreaming i think?) adjustable soft washing nozzles (i saw a stainless nozzle that you twist which gives you spray/jet on a previous post here) and everything in between. What nozzles do you guys use for long distance spraying? I'm not looking for a perfect spray pattern, just larger droplets for drift control, and some decent reach.

****

A: Most guys stick with 030-040 and 050 orifice nozzles for the Fatboy. 030 only if you run an accumulator. Bob at Pressuretek sells 4 bangers designed for the Fatboy. Look in the roof cleaning section. You are going to be limited to narrowing your orifice and using an extension wand to get distance. The narrower the orifice, the further it shoots. The twist nozzles are designed for pressure washer use and may not work with a 12v pump, but never tried one. I suspect the SH would eat it alive. We use 4 spray patterns and 5 different orifice sizes plus wide open for rinsing. A soap shooter will work but it is a wide 65 degree fan nozzle and you aren't going to get a lot of distance with it. Works great for covering wide swaths of walkable roofs though.

****

Q. Also, I have seen "accumulators" in line on soft wash systems. What exactly does the accumulator do?

***

A. It helps to act as a buffer. The accumulator is installed on the pump output side. The mix is pumped into the accumulator where it pushes against a rubber diaphragm. That diaphragm is pressurized on the non fluid side, typically to the same pressure as the pump pressure switch setting (normally 60 PSI). As the system reaches full pressure with the nozzle end turned off, the rubber diaphragm is pushed in. As you open the hose valve, the diaphragm pushes a small amount of stored fluid out first. This fools the pressure switch into thinking the system is still fully pressurized for a brief few seconds. It creates a short delay buffering the pressure switch against short cycling. In essence, it is there to help extend the life of the relay/solenoid and pressure switch. However...it is not fool proof. It will give you about another orifice size down, so you can run a slightly larger range of nozzles, but using a tiny orifice will still lead to short cycling...more so as the accumulator ages. Why? Because the accumulators are not designed for chem use. The rubber diaphragm inside is just that....rubber. SH eats rubber. And before it eats it, it makes it stiff. This is why as the accumulator ages, it does less to prevent short cycling on small nozzles. Eventually, the SH eats thru the diaphragm and it does nothing. They are not rebuildable. Plan on annual replacements or more, depending on your mix strength. If you do tile, you will likely be using a stronger mix than on asphalt and thus things like pumps and nozzles and accumulators will need replacement faster. It is the nature of the beast. Talk to Chris at Apple who does a lot of tile and ask him what he uses for a pump setup and why.

Regardless of pumps used, plan on replacing nozzles, valves and quick connects on a regular basis and always have spares handy. Nozzles will literally be eaten away by the SH. Physically eroded. Quick connects rust....keep lube on your truck at all times and a spare quick connect or two.

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These are good air compressors too, made in the USA !

I have owned several of these brands, and they are reliable and deliver a lot of air.

They use their own pumps that are huge, and then run them at very low RPM, so they last a long long time.

 

http://www.toolbarn.com/rolair-11gr30hk30.html

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Great info guys, very much appreciated. Me and the Mrs just bought a house that we are rennovating, and the roof is filthy, so im keen to get a set up built so i can test it out, and also test out the best way to clean. I had never even thought of applying the SH and letting it dwell then rinsing it off with fresh. Thats probably the best way to go i think. The biggest problem here is the moss, and a lot of soft wash guys are either scraping or brushing it off first, then applying the chems. I am not into scraping a roof, as it probably does more damage than a pressure washer! and i think the brush would need to be pretty stiff to sweep the moss off. Also, the roots will be left, so either way, the chems are going to have to go on. 

 

As for nozzles, this is where it gets confusing for me. I think we might use a different system for nozzles. Here we have the angle (the first number) and the orifice size (the second number) Plus, we use metric! so for instance, i run a 21lpm pressure washer (5.5 gpm) and for that, the correct orifice size is 065

 

Is this the same way you guys work out nozzle sizes? I'm assuming that when it comes to softwash systems, you guys dont match the nozzles to GPM because in my mind, you want a larger nozzle on your soft wash, to make the droplets bigger, and reach further? or am i way off here?

 

Thats great advice about the pump cycling too, i have actually put a speed control on my existing set up, i bought it off ebay and wired it into the pump. I turn the knob and the speed of the pump lowers, therefore, the flow lowers too. 

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Yes it is the same system for nozzles. Example nozzle 2530... 25 is the angle, 30 is the size.

 

On an electric pump the smallest nozzle you will want is one that doesn't cycle the pump on and off when your spraying wide open. Ex. 5gpm pump will be a #30, maybe a #20 at smallest. Bigger nozzle = less pressure = more flow = shorter spray distance. Typical softwash nozzles range between 10 and 60.

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On an electric pump, you will want a deep cycle battery. Your standard car starting batteries are designed to give short, high energy bursts of power or last with very low draws. Your typical electric pump draws a pretty fair bit of amperage...particularly the Fatboy series and that can do a regular car starting battery in. If your spare is a deep cycle, you're good to go. If not, you might find things slowing down a lot at the end of a big roof. When you replace it, plan to get a big marine deep cycle. 

 

Again...keep the SH AWAY from the battery. It is a bomb waiting to go off if you have an unsealed battery. Pump at one end of the rig, battery at the other end. 

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Hey Guys, 

 

Sorry about the late reply, ive been caught up with a home renovation and business has been picking up due to the nice weather we are having here. I am a member of some cleaning forums in the UK, and i hate it when someone asks for advice, and a lot is given then the original poster never returns... So here i am to say THANKS!..

 

I have found some decent pumps that i can source locally, Flojet pumps with nice flow rates. 

I have also been experimenting with different nozzles on my existing set up (cobbled together 12v , 1.5gpm pump) and the 00 nozzles seem to give me good distance and height, and i have found some decent sized fan nozzles for flat work. 

 

My biggest question i have now is, i have seen on some pics/vids of you American guys set ups, that you have a plastic lance type thing, with a red trigger usually. its more like a pump up sprayer lance/trigger. Can someone point me in the right direction on where i could source one of these? they look great. 

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I got mine from powerwash.com it works good for me. Also just my 2 cents im fairly new to roof cleaning only been at it 2 years now i started usuing 12 volt pumps and always rinsed them out after the fourth pump I decided to do the air system. I was intimidated by it even while setting it up all the way till I did my first job. After usuing the 2 systems I will never go back to 12 volt it is more expensive to do air but when compared to how many pumps i went through and then adding it to the cost of the air set up it was worth it to me. I use mine to wash roofs, I also soap the houses with it while my guys follow and rinse it, and I also use it to apply concrete cleaner on the drive ways. It never gets hot not battery to drain it works for me and what I need.

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Hey Guys, 

 

Sorry about the late reply, ive been caught up with a home renovation and business has been picking up due to the nice weather we are having here. I am a member of some cleaning forums in the UK, and i hate it when someone asks for advice, and a lot is given then the original poster never returns... So here i am to say THANKS!..

 

I have found some decent pumps that i can source locally, Flojet pumps with nice flow rates. 

I have also been experimenting with different nozzles on my existing set up (cobbled together 12v , 1.5gpm pump) and the 00 nozzles seem to give me good distance and height, and i have found some decent sized fan nozzles for flat work. 

 

My biggest question i have now is, i have seen on some pics/vids of you American guys set ups, that you have a plastic lance type thing, with a red trigger usually. its more like a pump up sprayer lance/trigger. Can someone point me in the right direction on where i could source one of these? they look great.

Here is an entire page of them, but be careful! Many restrict Flow https://www.kleen-ritecorp.com/c-107-spraying-systems-guns.aspx

Many of us simply use a 3/4 inch ball valve!

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