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When is Water Not Water?

Understanding how different types of water can affect pressure washing 

We typically hold that there are a few universal truths in the world. The sky is blue, Friday comes after Thursday, and water is wet. While that all still stands true, sometimes things aren’t what they seem, and that can often be the case with water used in different pressure washing applications. 

Water straight from any given tap can harbor various impurities – nothing that is harmful to an individual, much of the time, but rather minor imperfections that can taint the water being used to wash or disinfect in a commercial or industrial environment. This is often resolved by pretreating the water using one of the three most common various filtration and purification methods. These are: 

• Deionization: Deionized water, or DI for short, is water that is treated with an electrical charge to take out charged atoms of common contaminants, including calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, chlorides, nitrates or other minerals. This process leaves behind hydrogen and hydroxyl – OH- – resulting in a more truly pure H2O. 

• Reverse Osmosis: Water treated through a reverse osmosis process (RO) is passed through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure, forcing organic contaminants, bacteria, dissolved salts and more to be caught in the membrane. This process leaves behind water that has 95 percent to 99 percent of all contaminants removed. 

• Water Softening: Water softening is a process you may be familiar with at home. Many of us have “hard” water, which is harmless, but means that the water hosts a higher concentration of calcium, magnesium and other mineral contaminants. These minerals can pose a problem in some industrial cases, leading to inefficient processes or even damaged pipes, containers or pumps. Softening the water through an ion exchange process replaces these minerals with sodium and delivers “soft” water to the end user. 

Is Purified Water Safe to Use in Pressure Washers? 

Once you’ve purified water for your pressure wash, you’re good to move forward with your cleaning project, right? Not so fast. While soft water and RO water are no problem for most conventional pressure washers, using DI water can pose a serious issue. This DI water is now purer, but also more corrosive to certain metals – specifically carbon steel and brass, each of which are commonly found in pressure washers. That means that as the water is used in the cleaning process, it will slowly eat away at carbon steel boiler coils or brass pumps inside the pressure washer. 

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. One option is to simply rinse out the pressure washer with untreated water after using DI water. This will still lead to corrosion of parts during use, but will reduce long-term damage from DI water being left in the system. A second option is to use DI water as a rinse instead of a wash, though this may not work depending on specific requirements of your operation. 

Finally, you can turn to the team at Hotsy Carlson and let us work with the Hotsy Specials Department to explore replacement options for your sensitive components. In some cases, pumps, fitting and coils that are made of carbon steel or brass in your Hotsy pressure washers can be replaced with stainless steel or poly components that resist the corrosive effect of DI water. 

If you need to use DI water regularly, give Hotsy Carlson a call today. We’re the experts when it comes to pressure washing, and we’ll work hard to find a solution for you. Trust us. We know clean.

When is Water Not Water?

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