In this post, I will explain the safe use of an extension cord with a pressure washer.
So, can you use an extension cord with a pressure washer?
Yes, you can use an extension cord with a pressure washer provided you use it safely. Make sure you completely unwind it, as it can get quite hot and melt. Also, make sure that it is UL approved, and that the extension cord is not lighter than fourteen gauges and not more than sixty feet long.
Every extension cord has a maximum amperage rating or a limit of the electrical current that can safely pass through it. Check your pressure washer before you plan to connect it to your extension cord. Always choose the extension cord with an amperage rating higher than your pressure washer.
If you are planning to connect multiple machines to a single extension cord, add up all amperage requirements to make sure that you do not overload your extension cord. If the power requirement on your pressure washer is listed in watts, you must divide the wattage by 110 to convert this rating to amperage. Sometimes the extension cord you have bought and plan to connect to your pressure washer does not show an amperage rating, in such a situation, you can calculate its current capacity by its wire gauge.
The lower the gauge, the higher the capacity of the wire. A sixteen gauge extension cord is used for hedge trimmers, holiday lights, portable fans, and similar other light-duty applications. A fourteen gauge extension cord is suitable for your pressure washer, a lawnmower, table saw, a power drill and other medium-duty applications.
A ten to twelve gauge extension cord is suitable for an air compressor, circular saw, chain saw, shop vacuum and other similar heavy and extra heavy-duty applications. In addition to the amperage and the wire gauge, you must also check the cord length when selecting the right type of extension cord. If you select a very long cord, it will create more electrical resistance and deliver less power to your pressure washer.
It is recommended by the experts to use an extension cord of the proper length to prevent power loss, especially when you have connected your pressure washer with a high amperage rating. Using the right type of extension cord is important to ensure the electrical safety of your pressure washer, its operator and to prevent home fires. If your extension cord is longer than sixty feet or lighter than fourteen gauge, there may be serious consequences for your pressure washer and yourself.
You will run the risk of electrocution and your pressure washer can be damaged beyond repair.
Safety Precautions You Must Follow While Using an Extension Cord With Your Pressure Washer:
Always keep the plug away from the standing water, sprinkler system, spray and runoff. Make sure there is a safe distance between the plug and the object that you are pressure washing. Fit the extension cord and the pressure washer snugly and plugin tightly so that the connection is safe and solid.
Never plug-in extension cords together. If you extend the length of your extension cord by daisy-chaining, it may lead to overheating your extension cord. This may create a serious fire hazard.
By chaining them together you also reduce the electrical current and gauge to a great degree. You will probably be left with your pressure washer not getting sufficient power to operate properly and give the desired results. Installing an additional electrical outlet instead is the safest option.
Never exceed the rating of your extension cord. All extension cords have certain wattage limits. You must always respect the wattage limits.
Never connect a space heater and a pressure washer into the same extension cord, as a one thousand and five hundred watt space heater typically draws 12.5 amp. It will overload a sixteen gauge extension cord. Never use the adapter plugs to connect three wire plugs to a two-prong receptacle without grounding.
If your extension cord has three prongs, you must use all three. One prong is hot, the second is neutral and the third is the grounder. If you force an extension cord to plug into a two-prong outlet you are risking electrocution.
The third prong of your extension cord drastically minimizes the risk of fire by giving power surges a safe place to dissipate. Never plug your sensitive devices into any common extension cords. Minor surges can damage your sensitive machines so connecting them into extension cords with a built-in surge protector is very important.
Never allow your extension cords to become a trip hazard. Lay it out of the way of foot traffic. Always avoid running your extension cord over a high traffic area like the lobby, aisle, corridor or lounge of your home or office.
If your extension cord is loosely hanging, it is prone to be tripped over. It will get hooked on and will be ultimately disconnected. Not only is it a tripping hazard but it will also pull down the machines that are connected to it, causing a life-risking accident, resulting in a burnt extension cord and the pressure washer damaged beyond repair.
Never hide your extension cord under your carpets or furniture. This will overheat the extension cord and start a fire. If the area or object you plan to pressure wash is located too far away, consider setting up an additional electrical outlet near that area or object.
Never rely on staples or nails to mount your extension cords. If you want to prevent it from loosely hanging, and getting unplugged again and again, metallic staples or nails are not safe either. They will puncture the rubber or plastic protective cover and the current will flow through these metal nails or staples causing electrocution and starting a fire.
You must buy an extension cord designed for outdoor use if you will be pressure washing the areas outside your home. It is more rugged and even weather-resistant. It will withstand the beating of the elements.
Remember that the National Electrical Code does not permit the use of extension cords as permanent wiring. Always store your extension cords and pressure washers indoors. If they are left outdoors, unattended and unsupervised, they are just accidents waiting to happen.
Always choose the right type of extension cord for your needs. There are three types of extension cords: for frequent use, for occasional use, and for rugged use. There are seven different designation letters that show the difference:
S: Indicates an extension cord ideal for indoor applications only.
W: Indicates an extension cord ideal for outdoor applications only. Insulation is the main difference between indoor and outdoor extension cords. Extension cords ideal for outdoor applications has bright orange plastic, rubber or vinyl covers.
J: Indicates an extension cord that has three hundred volt insulation. If you can’t see J letter, it means that the extension cord has insulation heavier than six hundred volts.
P: Indicates an extension cord that has a parallel wire construction.
T: Indicates an extension cord with a jacket made up of vinyl thermoplastic.
E: Indicates an extension cord with a jacket made up of thermoplastic elastomer rubber (TPE)
O: Indicates an extension cord that is oil resistant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Are electric powered pressure washers as powerful as a gasoline-powered pressure washer?
An electric powered pressure washer is limited by the amount of electricity it can get from your wall outlet or your extension cord. While the gasoline-powered pressure washers are only limited by their size, make and model. When it comes to portable powers like pressure washers, those that are powered by gasoline are more efficient than the electrical ones.
In residential areas, your pressure washer is limited by the electricity available to it, from your home wall outlet or your extension cord. Your house has a breaker in its electricity distribution board that can blow if you attempt to draw extra current. While a gasoline-powered pressure washer has no breakers to blow, it needs a larger combustion chamber for more energy.
2. What are some necessary safety precautions you must observe while pressure washing?
Always read, understand and follow your user’s manual before operating your pressure washer. Always use proper eye protection. It can cause muck and grit to fly around at a very high speed.
Never allow the water and the electricity to mix. Always use a power supply protected by RCD. Make sure the joins of your extension cord are well off the ground.
Unwind your extension cord from its drum or reel to maintain safety.
In order to conclude this response post, I would say that you can safely use an extension cord with your pressure washer. Just keep in mind that the extension cord should not exceed the recommended limits. Your extension cord which you are planning to use with your pressure washer must not be lighter than fourteen gauge and not more than sixty feet long.
If you read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions you will prevent yourself and your loved ones from any danger.