My latest DIY project at home has been a big one, and something I've never tackled before - painting my house's front porch and back deck. To start, I knew I needed to buy or rent a power washer. After doing my homework, I decided to purchase a Blue Clean AR118 hand carry electric pressure washer from Amazon.com for about $100.
I needed something I could easily carry, and I figured the AR118's 1500 PSI and 1.5 GPM would work for my purposes. In addition to power washing the deck and porch, I wanted to make sure I could use it to power wash my house at a later date.
Fairly easy to assemble
Just out of the box, the AR118 has the cryptic instructions common to household equipment - crude illustrations with small print, none of which makes much sense. Since I work in IT and have experience putting together household items as well, I've learned to expect poorly written instructions as a fact of life.
Even so, I didn't have much trouble putting everything together. The AR118 doesn't come in a million pieces, so it's not too difficult to figure out which part goes where. The pieces to the sprayer are housed inside the washer unit, and a swivel connector screws together, then attaches to the unit, with the other end connecting to a garden hose.
You do need to make sure you read the instructions carefully, though, since they contain some important information, such as the need to hold in the handle to release pressure when you turn on the device. You also need to hit the reset button on the plug every time you plug it in somewhere else. This means that if you move from the back of the house to the front and plug the machine into a different receptacle, it won't work until you hit reset. It took me a little over an hour to put the AR118 together, take it outside and get it hooked up to the garden hose and working.
My main problem was significant water leakage where the hose plugs into the swivel adapter on the unit. Leakage is a common complaint in online reviews of the AR118, so I was not totally unprepared for this. I had hoped, though, that it would turn out to be something I could overcome. Unfortunately, I could not.
I already knew that any power washing job takes a huge amount of water, so I'm prepared to nearly pass out when my water bill arrives next month. However, the amount of leakage from the AR118 made me cringe. I needed to get the power washing done, though, so I kept going.
A few times in past years, I've borrowed my wonderful neighbor's large, powerful pressure washer to power wash my house. Sadly, my neighbors recently sold their house and moved, so I was on my own for finding a pressure washer. His washer did a fantastic job, but it was huge, extremely heavy and took so much muscle to maneuver that I was very sore for several days after using it.
Though I've exercised regularly for many years, I fully expected to have trouble lifting my arms the next day after power washing due to straining seldom-used muscles.
Though power washing is strenuous, draining work, my upper body was not miserably sore the next day from using the AR118, thankfully. I didn't use it as much as I would have to power wash the house, but power washing the porch and deck was still a significant job that took a couple of hours. I also washed the siding on the house near and adjacent to the porch and deck to see how good of a job it would do.
Did the job
Despite the incessant leaking, the AR118 did an impressive washing job. It produced a powerful enough stream of water to partially strip the paint off the porch and deck, so it's a good thing I planned to paint them afterward. The AR118 also did well in power washing my house's vinyl siding.
Made in the U.S.A., the AR118 comes with a 30-foot power cord. Its 20-foot water hose means I could leave the unit in one place for long periods - I didn't need to keep dragging it around. I recommend making sure you have a decent garden hose for the job, though. While I was washing my porch, the garden hose kept bending into kinks, impeding smooth water flow and slowing progress.
Naturally, a relatively small, lightweight unit such as the AR118 takes longer to do its work than a more powerful, expensive washer. The AR118 actually did a better, faster job than I expected. Hiring someone to power wash my porch and deck would have cost at least $100. I paid about that much for the AR118, which has a one-year warranty (for residential use). I'll use it again to power wash my house's vinyl siding, once I recover from the porch and deck painting project.
You'll get a great upper body workout from power washing, but I don't recommend doing this yourself unless you're in pretty good physical shape. Pressure washing takes a large amount of physical stamina. You don't want to run out of steam halfway through the job, or worse, give yourself a heart attack. You could also hurt yourself if you don't have enough strength to maneuver the sprayer properly.
It's worth it to pay someone to do your power washing if your body isn't up to the job. You also may want to consider hiring someone with their own water if you use a well that tends to go dry quickly or if you pay unusually high amounts for your city water service.
Though I can't speak for the AR118's durability since I've used it for only a short time, the device seems well made and did what I wanted it to do.