Hot vs. Cold. What’s the difference?

All powerwashers fall into one of two categories: hot water or cold water. Because both types of powerwashers offer models with the same volume and pressure, it begs the question- why do I need a hot water? The answer is as close as your kitchen sink. You’ve just had a delicious spaghetti dinner, and it’s time to wash the dishes. You turn the water on and begin to run it over your dirty plate; the stain doesn’t start to readily come off until the water begins to warm up. Once the water gets hot the stains come right off. Why? It’s a story as tiny as the molecules that make up the water.

Now for the boring scientific explanation.

We learned in our early school years how everything is made up of atoms that bond together to form molecules. These tiny molecules are in constant motion. With water the hotter it gets the faster these molecules move.

Svante A. Arrhenuis (1859-1927), a Swedish chemist, researched the heat-energy relationship. In short, he concluded that higher temperatures caused molecules to collide with each other creating energy that can cause the molecules of grease and grime to break free from the surface from which they are attached. Dirt particles are quite often attracted and adhere to a particular material, as in the example of dirt on a painted surface. Water on its own is not able to loosen the dirt and remove it from the surface of the material. However heated water, as described above creates a high-speed molecular action that physically breaks the bond between the grime and the surface to which it is attached.

In addition to actually being able to help loosen dirt with water alone, heat has the added benefit of making detergents more effective. Adding heat will accelerate chemical reactions, with the general rule of thumb being activity doubles for every 10 degrees C increase.

The rule of thumb is simple: if cold water can clean it good, hot water can clean it better. Heat energy means a hot water powerwasher will deliver cleanings most effective knockout punch for your dirtiest jobs.
After reading this explanation I hope it is now clear how hot water powerwashing has many distinct advantages over cold water powerwashing.

Top 5 Powerwashing Rip-Offs

Rip-Off #1: Low Price: To some degree, all of us are attracted to low price because we want to work within a budget. But some contractors use low prices as the bait in order to land a job. They are hoping you are basing your buying decision on price alone and if they are the cheapest, they will get the job.

Unfortunately once they get the job they have to take shortcuts in order to try and make a profit. Professional powerwashing is not as cheap as some unethical powerwashers would like you to believe. Professional powerwashing companies have the same overhead as any other type of service business. Some of these expenses include  insurances, payroll, fuel, vehicle and equipment repair and maintenance, advertising, rent, and supplies to name a few.  Make sure you are paying for the level of quality and service you expect. If a price seems to good to be true it usually is.

Rip-Off #2: Crafty Claims Like: “Soft Washing”, or no pressure washing.  You may read this in ads, or hear this from contractors. The fact is that these contractors are using powerwashing equipment. Not some kind of specialized equipment, they want you to believe they are using. This is just another marketing ploy trying to weigh in on consumer’s fears about the potential damage the pressure of a powerwasher can cause.

A professional powerwasher will always be trained in proper usage of their equipment and should be using equipment with fully variable pressure capabilities. Crafty claims like this are nothing more than an attempt of trickery to exploit the unknowning customer.

Rip-Off #3: The offer of free services: Some contractors will advertise that they offer free “hot wax” or some other kind of free treatment. The fact is that these products are useless and only mentioned as a means at attempting to add value to their offering. A reputable contractor would never offer these services, be leery of contractors who do.

Rip-Off #4: Advertising one set price for any job: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something is wrong here. How can a contractor offer to wash “ANY” house for a $250 price? Houses and decks can differ in size dramatically, from a 1500 square foot ranch to a 7000 square foot colonial. How could the price for washing these homes be the same? The answer- They can’t.

Amazingly some people must be calling from this type of crazy advertising, because I see these ads year after year. If you see an ad offering this type of one set pricing, keep turning the page as no reputable contractor would ever advertise this way.

Rip-Off #5: A contractor offers to give an estimate over the phone without looking at the job or using “satellite imaging” to view the job: Again, no surprise at his being listed here, but amazingly some people must be accepting this type of offer. It is impossible to accurately price a job without seeing it. Not to mention this type of estimating is illegal in the state of NJ. Always get a written quote with clear terms and conditions outlined in writing.


So you want to do it yourself?

The tale of the do-it-yourselfer: It’s Saturday morning and you have nothing to do! Your all caught up at work, your lawn is taken care of, and even your to do list is empty. You get the bright idea: “I think I will powerwash the house, patio and walkways today, saving lots of money.”

You travel down to your local rental shop, in order to rent a powerwasher. You wait in line, eventually paying about $85.00 rent, another $45.00 to rent a concrete cleaner, and a $400.00 security deposit. The clerk gives you a brief description on how to properly use the equipment, helps you load all the stuff into the back of your car and wishes you on your way. “I hope they gave me a good one that works properly.”

Next off to the hardware store to get the cleaning chemicals. “What works? What doesn’t? What should I use? How do I use it?” This stuff costs $15.00+ per gallon; you estimate that you will need 6 gallons to clean the house and the concrete. “That’s another $90.00+,” you grumble since you’ve now spent more than $220.00 to get everything you need, not to mention the stop for gas on the way home. But then you feel better thinking to yourself about all the money your saving.

Home! FINALLY! Now you have to unload. You take everything out of your car (“This sucker is HEAVY!”) You manage to get everything out of the car OK, with only one minor scratch on the trunk and little bit of gas spilled on the carpet. You drag the powerwasher, hoses, accessories and chemicals all over your nice lawn. If you happen to spill anything on the grass, you will surely know within the next few days. Bummer! You run all the hoses, set up the machine, check your connections and attachments. First try to start the machine, sputter but no good. Second try, they didn’t tell you that you have to hold the trigger on the wand open when you pull the starter rope. Third try, Ok she’s running. Elated, you shut the motor off to get your chemical mixture ready. OK, this time you’re really ready to get started. They didn’t tell you that once you get the machine started should you decide to shut it off, the starter rope will not turn the machine over unless you first release all of the trapped pressure by pulling the trigger first. It took a while to figure all that out, but now YOUR READY.

Several hours later, you think you’re done. Did you miss any spots? Did you get the high sections well? Did you rinse the shrubbery well enough? Your hot and tired, but don’t forget the patio. This will only take another hour, “piece of cake,” as they say.

You finish the patio and your back is killing you. Now it’s late, hurry up! Collect everything, load it up, and take it back before you have to pay another days rent. As your backing out of the driveway, you notice “zebra stripes” on the concrete you just cleaned. They didn’t tell you what to do, or even warn you about that. Well at least I got it all done, and I saved money too. It only took the whole day getting wet, hot, and tired. And, as a bonus, I’ll probable be sore tomorrow!

The next day, you tell your neighbor about your adventure, and how you spent ONLY $225.00 to “clean” your house and patio. He laughs and tells you that he called Turbo-Wash whose crew will conveniently be there Monday to clean his house, deck and patio all for a reasonable price. They will be finished with the job before he even gets home from work. He then mentions that he saw you working yesterday and would have gladly helped you if he had known earlier, but he had plans to spend the day on the golf course with his buddies. You think to yourself, “That’s OK I saved money….” OR DID I?

A penny richer but a pound-foolish.




By Kevin Hartman

The residential powerwashing industry has continued to have skyrocketing liability claims forcing many insurers to cancel renewals.

Although rates have continued to substantially increase, they are still inadequate. At the same time loss costs are exploding. As a result of the increased loss costs, many insurers are opting out of this market. “With insurers’ returns continuing to fall, it’s been a profitless recovery,” said Gregory McDonald, member of the Crown Insurance Agency.

It seems there are two main reasons this market has spiraled so out of control. The first reason being many powerwashing companies are owned and operated by unskilled, improperly trained individuals who feel as though this business can be started quickly and easily with little initial investment. Currently, there is no mandated training certification or licensing necessary to operate this type of business making it very easy for just about anyone to get started in this surprisingly high liability industry.

The second reason this market has spiraled out of control is that, insurers are still grappling with poor underwriting results of the past, and the current lack of capacity in this line is unlikely to change anytime soon. This predicament was caused primarily by lack of insight on the underwriters’ behalf’s. Being this market is a relatively new one little was previously known as to how high a liability this industry truly held.

Several insurance executives have said that as time passes, insurers are finding out the hard way just how high a liability this industry is. As a result, powerwashing companies may find it increasingly difficult to get proper liability coverage in the future.

Business Insurance Monthly
March 1998 issue


Are You a Gambler?

Did you know every business operating in the state of New Jersey is required by law to have both general liability insurance; to protect you against damage to your personal property and workers compensation insurance; to protect you against any one being injured on your property?

Did you know that the New Jersey consumer fraud act requires a signed proposal be on record authorizing any work to be done prior to commencing work?

Did you know that due to increased complaints being filed against uninsured contractors working within the State of New Jersey a new law was implemented as of 1/1/07 mandating that any contractor working on a residential home in the state of New Jersey be required to register as a home contractor?

In order to register as a licensed home contractor proof of both liability and workers compensation insurance is required. The registration number has to be prominently displayed on both the contractor’s letterhead and vehicles.

  1. Always ask for proof of insurance, both liability and workers comp
  2. Always get a written proposal outlining all terms and conditions.
  3. Always ask for a New Jersey home contractor registration number.

“Remember, once the sweet taste of a low price has disappeared, the sour taste of poor quality and/or an uninsured contractor will long remain.”

An Educated Consumer is our Best Customer!