We blasted away at grimy paths before trying out deck-cleaning attachments to see if they’re a gimmick or godsend. Our expectations were turned on their heads as some expensive, big-name models failed to shine while a few cheaper units cleaned up.
Snapshot: This battery-powered waterblaster lets you cut the cord, but it's very expensive at over $800 once you've bought the battery and charger. Can it keep up with mains-electric models?
Snapshot: Over the past couple of years we've uncovered some great Bosch power gear, and some not-so-great models. Where does its AQT 35-12+ Aquatak waterblaster lie?
Snapshot: At just over $200, the Briggs & Stratton BWS020 is one of the cheapest waterblasters tested. But have Briggs cut corners on performance?
Snapshot: Nilfisk made its name in the cleaning game, but is the Compact + C120.7-6 electric waterblaster a winner or a dud?
Snapshot: This German brand is a market leader in cleaning technology and its waterblasters are a stalwart of hire shops. But is its K3 + Home Kit all its cracked up to be?
Snapshot: Stihl's outdoor power equipment has a habit of scoring highly in our tests. Is this relatively expensive waterblaster an exception?
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These are the most common type of residential waterblaster and they have more than enough power for jobs around the home. Good models are available for $200-300, and if properly used they should require very little maintenance. But your range is limited by the extension cord.
Much heavier, noisier and more maintenance-intensive than electric units, but you can take them anywhere and you’ll never be short on power. They’re worth considering if you’re going to be straying far from home or for industrial tasks, but for most of us a mains model will suffice.
These models are a recent entrant to the market and offer the go-anywhere range of a petrol model without the maintenance issues and fumes. But our testing shows they don’t yet have the power of mains models, and they generally cost twice as much as their corded counterparts.
Performance scores are based on the following tests:
Our ease-of-use assessment looks at:
If possible, test a model out to ensure it's not too heavy for you (models range in weight from 8 to 15 kilograms). Models with wheels and a well-designed handle make moving around easy. Make sure the handle is long enough to use easily.
Rotary start/stop switches on the side are much easier to access than recessed rear switches.
In our 2012 test we tested the petrol-powered Ryobi RPW2400B as a comparison and found its performance excellent – it easily removed dirt from concrete with either of its fan nozzles. If you have large areas to clean, consider a petrol model.
However, if you have a big job you want to get done quickly we suggest you hire a heavy-duty industrial machine. This will have a higher combination of pressure and flow rate, which translates into faster cleaner.
Don't waterblast stucco-type houses
Waterblasting claddings made from fibre-cement sheet or stucco is a big no-no. That's because the high-pressure water can penetrate cladding (or any cracks in its surface). And once it's in, the water can't get out. This warning especially applies to "monolithic clad" houses built from the early 1990s up till around 2003.
Be careful with other claddings too
Waterblasting weatherboard, brick, concrete block or steel ("galvanised iron") claddings is acceptable – as long as the nozzle is not brought too close to the surface (less than 500mm) and the spray is not directed closely around door openings, window frames and other openings in the cladding.
And timber decks
The nozzle should not be brought closer than around 300mm to the timber deck surface. If held too close, the water jet can penetrate and damage the timber – reducing the life of the deck.
Domestic waterblasters consume around 1700W when blasting. And almost always they'll be connected to the mains by a long extension cord. That cord has to carry over 7 amps of electrical current – so use an extension cord that is rated to 10 amps and is rated for outdoor use.
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Check out more of our tests, articles, news and surveys in our Home, heating & renovation section.
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