The Potential Dangers of Pressure Washers

Consumer Reports has issued a safety alert for a zero degree nozzle.

ByABC News
July 27, 2016, 7:25 AM

— -- Pressure washers can help homeowners blast through many summer cleaning projects, but with the power of a pressure washer also comes potential danger.

Ben Skidell makes a living working with outdoor tools but it was a pressure washer that the New York man said almost took off part of his knuckle.

“Pressure washers can cause a lot of damage,” he said.

After using pressure washers, an estimated 6,000 people went to the emergency room in 2014 alone, with a portion of those injuries attributed to the tool’s powerful spray, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Most consumer pressure washers come with different nozzles for increased water pressure. A red nozzle is the most powerful at zero degrees.

The nozzle is so powerful that Consumer Reports issued a safety alert in March to warn consumers.

“We don't think power washer manufacturers should even be including a zero degree nozzle and we are asking that the industry actually take them out,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group for Consumer Reports, told ABC News.

Consumer Reports' Dave Trezza said the power of a red nozzle could “definitely” slice through the skin of a user’s hand and it can also cut through a shoe.

Manufacturers warn consumers purchasing new pressure washers about the power of the tool’s nozzle. “Good Morning America” went undercover to three tool rental stores in New Jersey to see if renters also receive a warning about the potential danger of a red nozzle on a pressure washer.

All three of the stores “GMA” visited gave a demonstration on how to use the pressure washer prior to the rental. But, although all three pressure washers “GMA” rented came with the ability to spray zero degrees, only one of the rental stores warned about the nozzle's potential danger.

Two of the pressure washers “GMA” rented came with warnings that said they could cause severe injury.

The Cleaning Equipment Trade Association told ABC News in a statement that the wand lengths on pressure washers help to prevent injuries.

"The wand lengths make it difficult to direct the discharge stream at yourself," the statement read. "And the warning instructions state to wear eye protection, hold the spray gun with both hands and do not direct discharge stream at people, along with other warnings."

Consumer Reports recommends that pressure washer users wear closed-toe shoes and treat the tool with the same precaution as you would any another piece of heavy-duty outdoor equipment, like a lawn mower.