Cold Weather Hints
Pressure Power Wash Contract Cleaners
Cleaning Systems, 2513 Warfield St., Fort Worth, Texas 76106-7554
Phone: 800-433-2113; Fax: 817-625-2059
Email: email@example.com, Website: www.powerwash.com
By: Robert M. Hinderliter.
- DO NOT LET YOUR WASHER FREEZE! If possible, store your pressure
washer in a warm place. Automatic bathroom or "Milk House"
electric heaters work well in small areas like small garages and inside of
enclosed vehicles (vans, bobtails, trailers).
For Natural Gas and LP Gas water heaters the pilot lights provide heat at
the base of your heater coils. Block off the stack to capture additional
pilot light heat.
Heat lamps or 500 watt halogen light next to the pump under a tarp or
cardboard box helps protect the pump. If you cover the entire wash rig
with a tarp you can protect the entire rig if it not too cold for too
Automatic kerosene (torpedo heaters) & Natural Gas heaters will
protect larger areas. Connect these to automatic thermostats. Thermostats
on short plug-in extension cords are about $35.00 at your local hardware
Infrared LP gas heaters also work well. Heat from these heaters can be
quite intense so watch for fire hazards.
Water Tanks can be kept from freezing over night by installing
re-circulating water pumps to keep the water moving. Install a water
filter to clean your water as it is re-circulating.
If you heat the inside of an enclosed vehicle (Bobtail or Van) with snow
or ice on top you may melt the snow or ice. When the water runs down the
sides of the vehicle is may freeze again locking the doors and windows in
place making it difficult to gain entry.
An enclosed vehicle (van, step van, bobtail, enclosed trailer, etc.)
offers protection against theft in addition to weather protection.
Insulate the inside of your vehicle for additional protection against the
cold weather. If you store your vehicle inside of a heated garage short
travels of an hour or less can usually be made without the pressure washer
A lot of garages and garage doors are un-insulated. Insulating the garage
and garage doors offer additional protection against the cold weather.
Light weight Styrofoam panels are easily attached to garage doors.
Caution: Do not put combustibles next to your heat source, or items
that could melt.
- If your washer is going to freeze, the best way to protect your
washer is with automotive anti-freeze, RV anti-freeze, or windshield washer
fluid (Note: Be sure and check the freezing point of the fluid you are
using. Some windshield washer fluids do not protect below freezing). Fill
up your empty float tank with anti-freeze then start up your washer and
push out the water with anti-freeze, (Note, most hot high pressure washers
hold about 5 gallons). Remove your spray tip from your wand and insert it
into the float tank. Re-circulate the anti-freeze for 2 minutes while
turning the Trigger Gun on and off to force antifreeze into the by-pass line
of the unloader. This will protect your pump, coils, hoses and plumbing.
This should protect everything except the chemical line hose which you
will need to do separately while re-circulating the antifreeze.
Use a 5-gallon jug to capture the anti-freeze for reuse. If you start out
with 5 gallons of pure antifreeze it should last you all winter if you
recapture it each time. If you have any questions on this call Mark,
Jerry, Keith, Larry, or Robert for customer toll free support at :
If your unit does not have a float tank, use a 5-gallon bucket and insert
the water intake hose into it.
For pressure washers without float tanks that are hooked to water tanks
you can install a 3/4" or 1" 3-way ball valve (T-valve) with a
short piece of hose in the inlet water line to introduce the antifreeze
with. This way it is not necessary to disconnect the water line from the
- The next best way to protect your unit from freezing is to blow out
the water with air pressure. Be careful with this method. Water will
collect in low places and still break your washer. This is especially true
if you move your washer after blowing out the water on vehicle mounted
pressure washers. The vibration will collect water droplets in low places,
especially in the heater coils.
The packing and the valves in the high pressure pump may not completely
dry when blowing out the water with air. If you start up the pump before
it thaws out the valves may stick closed and the packing may stick to the
cermanic plungers and tear it up.
An emergency supply of air is the "canned air" sold at auto
supply stores for emergency tire inflation.
- Your washer will freeze going down the highway with a reported air
temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. That is because of the cooler
temperatures in low places. Remember that air temperature varies normally
2 to 6 degrees in a given region going up and down high and low places.
- In calm air hot water washing can be done to 15 to 25 degrees
Fahrenheit. It depends on how your customer can tolerate ice on the ground
or pavement (See the next item). In blowing wind hot water washing can be
done to about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible wash in direct sunlight
to take advantage of thermal heating.
- If your wash water runs across sidewalks or driveways and freezes,
salt or sand these areas down for safety. Always carry a bucket of rock
salt or sand for your customer's safety. Note: Rock Salt will give the
people a rough surface to walk on for better traction.
Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Chloride are also use for melting ice.
However, these products leave an oily residue and present a
"slip" hazard. Magnesium Chloride is a naturally occurring salt
that is mixed with anticorrosive agents and sprayed on roads prior to winter
storm to prevent ice from forming and bonding to road surfaces. There have
been some health and corrosion issues with Magnesium Chloride which is
used primarily in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Utah, and Washington.
Rock Salt presents a maintenance and corrosion issue. And the dyes in some
ice melters can stain shoes, side walks, door frames, carpets, etc.
- Aluminum brightening and acid cleaning do not work well below 60
degrees Fahrenheit. Remember the sun, direct sun light will raise surface
temperature several degrees.
- You can pull open trailer wash rigs with water tanks down the
highway in freezing temperatures by putting your wash wand into your 500
gallon water tank and firing up the water heater and recirculating the
water as go down the road. If you are only going a short distance or if
the temperature is not very cold (like 15 to 20°F) it may not be necessary
to turn on the water heater. In this case this procedure will also work
for cold water pressure washers connected to water tanks.
- Keep your water supply hoses flowing with water, water out of the
ground will be about 50 degrees Fahrenheit in most areas. If your water
supply or high pressure hoses run across the cold ground they will freeze
in a few minutes in sub-zero temperatures.
- The average ground water summer to winter water temperature
variation is about 30°F. Most oil fired high pressure water heaters raise
the inlet water temperature 120 to 140°F with the burner running
continuously. With the reduction inlet water temperature in the winter you
need to increase your fuel nozzle one or two sizes. Then in the spring you
need to change the fuel nozzle again and reduce the fuel nozzle by one or
- Chemicals work slower in cold weather. Plan on using more chemicals
and extra dwell time for the chemicals to work.
- Do not let your chemicals freeze. Store in a dry, warm place.
Liquid chemicals will usually separate upon freezing.
- Protect yourself in cold weather with: 1) rain suits, 2) over
shoes, 3) hard hats with: a winter liner insert to protect the neck and
ears, a rain trough to keep water from going down the back of your neck, a
face shield to protect your eyes and face, 4) thermal underware, a good
set of thermal underwear and socks cost about $100.00 are well worth it,
and 5) gauntlet gloves with jersey inserts. Turn the gauntlet back so that
water will not run down you arm. 6) Keep extra dry gloves available.
Sources of supplies are: Agricultural, Hunting, Ski, and Safety Supply
Stores. Newer materials will not only keep you warm but will wick away the
sweat and moisture. Some of the trade names for these materials are:
Gore-Tex, Thermaloft, and Insulate.
Exercise caution as ice may form on your gloves, hard hat, shoes, etc.
Winter clothing generally arrive at stores in September. If you wait until
cold weather occurs your store may be out of the items you need. Plan
ahead and buy while the selection is the greatest.
- On days you cannot wash do sales calls and equipment maintenance.
Call Rahsco at 800-433-2113 and order spare parts. Plan ahead and save
- Below freezing work: vent-a-hoods; in-plant cleaning; produce
warehouses, limo garages, inside factories, automotive garages, car dealer
repair shops, de-icing of: aircraft, oil field drilling rigs, refineries,
manufacturing plants with outside water piping, etc. Look for anything
that will be inside cleaning with a pressure washer.
- You can drain your water hose by disconnecting it at each end,
laying it out in a straight line, then walking down the hose passing the
hose over your shoulder.
- Be careful where you point your spray: door locks, brake drums,
door jams, and steps will freeze after you spray water on them. If you use
180 degree to 200 degree Fahrenheit, hot water evaporation will help
minimize the icing problem. Sometimes you can minimize the freezing by
opening and closing doors and operating the locks. Also you can spray with
WD-40 with the long red needle adapter into door locks and mechanisms. Put
some WD-40 on a rag and wipe on the rubber weather seals of the doors.
- Sheathing Wax added to the rinse water like W-200 Spray Wax will
help the water slide off faster, speed the drying process, and reduce
icing. Depending on the temperature a leaf blower may also help in blowing
off the water to reduce icing. This also can increase the freezing rate if
not used properly.
- When washing reefer trailer make sure the units are running, this
will help minimize icing.
- Avoid washing in the shade. Direct sun light heats up skin
temperature rapidly. Try to have get the fleet owner to park vehicles in
the sun. The hottest part of the day for Deck Cleaning is 11:00 am until
- If you walk on a lot of ice, use boot chains or shoes with spikes.
Remember water and ice are really slick. Caution: The force from the surge
of pressure at the trigger gun from a pressure actuated unloader can slide
you backwards on ice or knock you down! While the force at the trigger gun
from flow actuated unloaders may slide you backwards.
- Mount your pressure washing equipment in an enclosed trailer,
Bobtail Truck, or Step Van and insulate the inside.
- Start your washing activities later in the day after the sun has
had time to warm items up, like after 10:00 a.m.
- Drop a small electric water pump (like those used for waterfall
displays) with a 3' hose attached into the water tank. Water in motion
will delay the freezing of the water tank. Also small submersible water
heaters work good in water tanks for keeping the water above freezing.
These heaters are common at agricultural (farm) supply dealers.
- When traveling short distances you can disconnect your pressure
washer from the water tank and only antifreeze the pressure washer, hoses,
etc. Put a plug into the water tank. When you arrive at the job site
remove the plug and use a screwdriver and knock out the ice.
- Where practicable cover exposed piping with heat tape. Freeze
protect outside faucets with heat tape or freeze proof valves.
- You can remove ice from house gutters by heating up the gutter from
bottom and sides then removing the ice by hand in 3 to 5 foot sections.
Average size home can be done in about an hour.
- Use indoor fittings with garden hose hook up for the sinks for when
outside faucets are frozen.
- If at all possible never travel with your water tank half full. The
surging of the water can push you out into an intersection or make you
lose control under slippery conditions. Always check the brakes at the
beginning of each day!
- Common add on businesses for supplementing income during the winter
months: 1) window washing, 2) New construction cleanup of houses for final
walk through, 3) snow removal, 4) chimney cleaning, 5) carpet cleaning 6)
yard work and maintenance cleanup, & 7) painting.
- The best way to keep air lines from freezing is to have one
continuous line with a moisture filter at the Compressor. Be sure and
drain the Compressor Air Tank regularly to remove the condensation.
- Window washing can be done in the winter time in below freezing
weather. Be aware of the following: Double pane windows freeze faster than
single pane windows because single pane windows get heat from the inside;
use warm water but not hot water because you may crack the window from
thermal stress; add 1/2 to 1 gallon of windshield washer (like blue-juice)
fluid or methanol to a 5 gallon bucket of wash water.
- Window washers commonly add "Methanol" to their wash
water to keep it from freezing. This solves the water freezing problem but
not the hand freezing problem. Some Power Washers also use this technique
and add Methanol to their wash water. They purchase the Methanol from
their Oil or Diesel Fuel Supplier or a Solvent Specialty Company by the 55
gallon drum. How much to add. Depends of the ambient conditions. Start out
at about 5% and adjust from there.
- Winter Storage of Pressure Washers:
A. Antifreeze your pressure washer per instructions above. Use automotive
antifreeze for storage of your pressure washer. I have personally seen
units stored over 5 years with automotive antifreeze with no problems
except to pop the pump inlet valves.
B. Get a Fuel Stabilizer from an auto parts store and add to the fuel tank
to keep your fuel from turning into varnish and having the gaskets in the
carburetor go bad. However it is still better to drain the tank and run
the unit out of gas.
C. Remove the spark plug wires; spray WD-40 into the carburetor while
turning over the engine to coat everything with oil.
D. Remove the spark plugs and spray with WD-40 into the cylinders or put
in some "Marvel Mystery" brand oil. Turn over the engine a few
times to coat the cylinder walls.
E. Change the engine oil, oil filter and fuel filter. If you do not change
the engine oil the sludge will collect on the bottom of the oil pan and
solidify. If there is any water in the fuel filter it may freeze and
F. Top off the Fuel Tank to keep moisture from condensing inside the fuel
tank. This will cause rusting of steel fuel tanks and water in the fuel.
G. In the Spring put in fresh fuel, replace the spark plugs, and start it
up. If it is hard to start spray WD-40 into the carburetor intake the same
way you would starting fluid. This gives an easier ignition than starting
fluid. When reconnecting the battery clean and apply an ample supply of
grease to the connections to prevent corrosion.
H. Disconnect the battery to avoid a trickle discharge.
I. In the spring de-lime the coils with "Scaleaway Deliming
Acid" and add "Red Devil Soot Remover" to your Diesel or
Kerosene for your burner. Put a trickle charge on your battery for a
couple of hours assure a full charge before starting with WD-40 to
establish fuel flow.
- Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning. When finished have one person turn on the
fan on while a 2nd person sprays deicer on the fan. Then leave the fan on.
This assures that the fan works and is not out of balance when the morning
kitchen crew arrives. Discontinue Kitchen Grease Exhaust Cleaning when
snow and or ice on roofs, sidewalks, or roads makes driving or walking too
- Use fall protection equipment when on roofs. You may want to hose
down the roof and melt the ice and snow.
- Sealing Decks: You need 12 to 24 hours of drying time above 50°F
before sealing a deck. Use a moisture meter to be sure the deck is dry
enough. Follow the manufacturer recommendations of your Deck Sealer you
are using. Some Contractors have cut off dates like October 31 of each
year to stop sealing wood (Decks, fences, roofs, etc). Decks will be
warmest from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm.
- At what temperature do you quit washing? This is a safety issue. 1)
Is it safe to drive on the roads? 2) Can you arrive at the job site safely
and without the equipment freezing up? 3) Will you have a safe surface to
walk on? Will you be on a roof? Sidewalk? Ice or Snow? Scaffolding? 4) Can
your employees drive to work OK? 5) Will the freezing of the waste wash
water be a problem? 6) Can the washing be done safely? 7) What will other
traffic be like and how skilled are other drivers? What are the chances of
a traffic accident?
- For the latest version of "Rahsco's Cold Water Hints for
Pressure Wash Contractors" go to http://www.powerwash.com/del/weather.html
- The National Weather Service "Wind Chill Chart" is at http://www.pressurewash.com/images/windchill.jpg
- When removing large chunks of ice from vehicles use your zero
degree nozzle to cut the ice into small sections. Then direct your spray
to break off these smaller sections. This is faster than simply melting
the ice. Caution: Beware of flying chunks of ice!
- Preventing your Bay Doors from Freezing:
A. If you have steel rollers change them to magnum type rollers.
B. Install proper weather stripping around the door.
C. Make sure the door is well lubricated and serviced.
D. Insulate the door with Styrofoam panels is not insulated.
E. Install a heater at the threshold of the door.
H. Keep only one door open at a time to avoid a creating a wind tunnel.
- Keep pressure hoses and airlines in the cab of the truck to prevent
freezing on the way to the job if needed.
- If you suspect that your pressure washer is frozen proceed with
A. Try to rotate your pump by hand to see if it will turn freely. Practice
this during warm weather so that you will know what the resistance feels
like and you can recognize a frozen pump. Disconnect the spark plugs when
doing this to avoid the engine accidentally starting.
B. Do not turn the burner on until water flow established. Frozen controls
may allow the burner to fire without water flow. This could result in a
C. It will take about 12 hours in a heated area to thaw out a frozen
D. Failure probability due to freezing is: 33% chance of no damage, 33%
chance of delayed failure which will occur in 90 days, 33% of immediate
E. Caution: We have had Contract Cleaners add gasoline to their kerosene
and diesel fuel in order to make the burner hotter. This has resulted in a
melt down and failure of the burner assembly. If you need more heat
increase the size of your burner nozzle one or two sizes.
- Hair Dryers and Heat Guns are safer than torches when thawing
- Tips for pouring concrete:
A. Order concrete made with hot water and increase the cement content by
about half a bag. Exact amount will depends on the conditions and
thickness of the concrete.
B. Order air-trained concrete. This provides additional protection against
C. Order low-slump concrete to ease finishing.
D. Do not pour concrete on a frozen surface. This includes frost, ice, and
rebars that are covered by frost or ice. When poured on frozen ground the
concrete will settle as the ground thaws.
F. Surfaces and concrete can by insulated with straw, plywood, insulating
blankets, or fiberglass insulation between 4 or 6 mil polyethylene
sheeting. Polyethylene Sheeting alone may be OK if the temperature does
not get much below freezing. New concrete should be protected from freezing
to avoid cracking or flaking off.
H. Place extra insulation around the edges. Faster cooling here can cause
cracking. Make sure the concrete cools slowly over two or three days.
I. Calcium Chloride flakes or pellets may be placed under the insulation
to produce heat. Caution: Calcium Chloride tends to discolor and produce
J. Under severe conditions a heat enclosure may be required for several
days before the ground is thawed out. Caution: Excessive direct heat can
blister the top layer of concrete and cause personal injury. Make sure the
enclosure is properly vented.
K. Concrete needs to be at least 55 degrees at pouring and 50 degrees for
Last Update: September
By: Robert M Hinderliter, Rahsco
Cleaning Systems of Fort Worth, 2513 Warfield St., Fort Worth, Texas
76106-7554. email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; URL: http://www.powerwash.com ; Phone: 800-433-2113;
Copyright 2009, Rahsco Cleaning Systems, All rights reserved.