What Is a Water Compressor?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A water compressor pressurizes water to release a very powerful jet or stream. This equipment can be used for activities like cleaning surfaces with high-pressure spray or cutting through materials with a carefully controlled jet. Manufacturers of water compressors typically produce a lineup of products offering differing levels of compression and features to meet the needs of varying customers. Rental units are available for settings where a device is only needed temporarily, like when people want to spray down a building to prepare it for painting.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Electricity or an engine can be used to power a water compressor. The compressor unit connects to a water source, which can limit the overall pressure generated; enough water needs to be available for the machine to pressurize it properly. It feeds to a hose with a nozzle controlled by the operator. Interchangeable hoses and nozzles can allow people to select different spray patterns, like jets, streams, or fans of water for various applications.

Some equipment comes with a chemical or abrasive injection feature. This allows the operator to add substances to the water. Abrasives can help with cutting and some cleaning tasks, although they can also damage surfaces and need to be used with care. Chemicals like detergent may be added to a water compressor for pressure washing, as they can soften dirt and grime to make it easier to remove. The best option depends on the job and the surface being handled.

Hot or cold water may be used in a water compressor. For some cleaning tasks, hot water can increase the solubility of debris on the surface of an object and make it easier to clean. In cases where water temperature doesn’t matter, cold may be preferable because the operator doesn’t want to waste energy on heating. Recapturing features may be available in some environments to allow for filtering and reuse of the water.

Compressed water can be dangerous in some instances. Pressure washers may be used in industrial applications as well as projects like preparing structures for painting and washing down sidewalks and driveways. The water at the nozzle of the water compressor emerges with enough force to cause injuries, and it should never be pointed at another person. Cutting jets are even more powerful, as they are designed to cut through materials like steel and stone, and must be used with extreme care to reduce the risk of injury. Facial protection is advised while operating power equipment of this nature.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?