“ Brand: Karcher „
About three years ago my parents and I cobbled £150 for a guy to come up to the house to pressure wash windows and the square paving stones which make up the walk ways around our house and the back garden which has no grass. At the time I was well impressed with what looked like a small gas tank on wheels and copious amounts of hoses and attachments. Although the thing made quite a noise and produced tons of mud and gravel we were both very impressed with the condition the guy had left the entire paving stones in. A year later and I borrowed a small pressure washer myself to see what all the fuss was, ruining a pair of trousers in the bargain of things and realising why most people wear protective goggles, welly boots and shower resistant trousers. This is a long review to describe overall user experience.
Tempted by the most current offer on one particular shopping channel at a cost of £99.00 I very nearly succumbed to buying a model that looked as if it could do the business that I wanted. After all, instead of paying out or borrowing other people to do the job or their machines, I guessed it was about time I got my own pressure washer to clean up the exterior of the house. After much research and deliberating as to what pressure washer to buy, despite two machines from Argos under the RAC brand and Challenge, it was the brand of Karcher I decided upon not just because many people recommended them, but also because they produce quite a few pressure washers and as it turns out, Tesco came to the rescue to a pressure washer model at a cost of £119-97 with a maximum rate of 110 bars of pressure and a range of different attachments; not too expensive and comes with a three year guarantee.
110 bars of water pressure means 340 litres of water coming out each hour or if you narrow it down nearly 6 litres per minute and nearly around 250 to 300 miles per hour of pressure; that's quite a blast, quite literally! Amidst the machine itself the K2.99M comes stocked with a few good attachments such as:
A 6 metre hose length which is how the water is transported via the machine to the main handle and squeeze trigger. Karcher's Vario lance is also supplied which adjusts water from a fine, gentle spray to a very powerful spray, a dirt blaster attachment which does exactly as its name suggests and mirrors the same length as the Vario lance, the T50 patio cleaning attachment which is a round brush that deals specifically with moss on patios as well as being able to be used on tiles, and an extension pipe which can be used not just with the T50 but also to extend the height of the main cleaning attachments supplied, which in this case is the either the Vario lance or the Dirt Blaster lance. Optional attachments can also be extended with this extension pipe too.
Out of the box revealed a few surprises however. For starters the Karcher 2.99M states that its 10.5kg on the box, but against my old Vax canister which has a similar weight, the 2.99M actually doesn't feel that heavy, even with the two lances on board. The user manual is very well detailed and pictured and easily shows how to put together the machine which can best be described as minimal assembly. To make it mobile, two wheels on a spindle need to be locked to the base of the machine as well as a safety foot and then the extra onboard storage grid with pull handle that also holds the trigger arm and water hose in place after use. Although generally I wasn't that put out, I was disappointed to note that the plastics for this machine are pliable and easy to bend. The worst aspect was to note that a crack (possibly occurred in transit) that emerged right across the handle. Although this doesn't interfere with the machine either in use or not, it made carrying difficult and rather trip all the way back to Tesco with the box to demand for a new one, I've put a temporary wrap of electric tape around the handle for extra strength.
The lances and general attachments are however better made with thick black PVC plastic that feels as if it is made to last; they simply bolt on with a twist lock mechanism that are all spring loaded to make it easier to allow attachments to pop on, lock and pop off when not used. This also includes the T50 which is a smaller version than the T100 patio cleaner and loses the steering wheel which is supposedly included to allow extra guiding control when cleaning caravans for example. A 6 metre power cord completes the package and it can be easily wound around a hook which is on the machine permanently. Next all you do is simply fix the nipple points that come with Karcher and for the 2.99M two are already supplied. They simply fit easily to the end of the water hose and can be pushed to lock onto the body of the 2.99M at the bottom facing outwards. Next up, your general garden hose then has to be fitted and in this instance any hose which has a Hozelock can be similarly applied through another of the nipples supplied with the Karcher and Karcher recommend a hose bigger than 5 metres in length. Then, plug the machine in and turn the water on. You don't ever switch the pressure washer on once the hose has been connected because this would damage the internals; the 2.99M has an internal lock which locks the water from the hose until you switch on the motor and the on dial is located half way in the middle of the pressure washer, easy to spot and easy to turn. Lastly with the use of a screwdriver to ease the lock out, the water hose can be locked to the main trigger handle. When I switched on I was surprised to find that the 1500 watt isn't as noisy as the 1200 watt pressure washer I had previously borrowed and welcome this whenever pressure washing duties are needed.
In use performance is generally excellent, impressive and fierce from this pressure washer. It doesn't have a variable powered motor because the Vario lance already handles that with its variable twisting end piece which the owner can twist to adjust the amount of spray that comes out; it also has a colour coded end different to the Dirt Blaster attachment so that you don't get easily confused. If you want gentle power so that you can put your hand into the water, then take everything off other than the trigger handle. I find it great to use for watering plants for example as well as cleaning down the machine which is wet proof after each use. Other than that if any other attachment is fitted, you just don't want to put your hand in it as the force is extremely great and even the user manual points this out! Another nifty aspect is that once the hose is on, you don't ever have to take it off - the internal safety lock on board the K2.99M means that you can simply stop what you're doing and move on without a worry of turning the machine off. The water will stop once you stop - that's how convenient this machine is.
At first use, I had had enough of spraying Path Clear and decided to blast the weeds out from between the paving stones and the 2.99M can be used in an upright position just like a cylinder vacuum cleaner or put down; the only difference is that it can't be pulled along or dragged as there are only two wheels at the back; this means that the Karcher can simply be pulled along instead like an upright trolley suitcase. I initially thought that the Vario lance would be able to deal with this and realised even on high pressure, the water dislodged mud and weeds easily but took longer than I anticipated. The Vario lance however proved to be better for washing windows down and getting rid of cobwebs, dirt and grime off our plastic lined eves that surround the roof partitions and cleaning down our old stone wall. Be sure however to wear a raincoat armed with a hood, as well as welly boots and trousers you aren't likely to be afraid of ruining! The spray reach for most of the attachments will extend around 10 metres from where you stand with the machine and trigger handle, so when the water hits nearer surfaces, you will be covered in flying dirt! Whilst generally the water hose is long enough I am disappointed that in use the power cord has proved to be too short. Used with an extension power cord, things do improve, particularly as you begin to see how well the 2.99M manages and what it brings up making things look new. Windows generally sparkle, PVC plastic fittings on window surrounds come up looking new and never before has it been any easier to shift cob webs and snails which seem to want to glue themselves to the tops of our living room windows. Although the machine is slightly heavy, the lances and trigger handle is easy to control and lightweight to lift; even the trigger handle is big enough to accommodate your hands if you are wearing gloves.
The Dirt Blaster however is the mother of all attachments and on my second day of use, I realised this is really the attachment I should have used for the paving stones. Although most people stand with the dirt blaster pointing downwards the force of water is so great that the moment the Dirt Blaster hits water into the target directed you'll instantly be covered in dirt. Instead, as the Dirt Blaster cleared weeds from between the cracks of paving stones I found that by siting the dirt blaster at an angle brought better results with dirt and weeds coming up from the surface instantly and lying at the sides. This makes clean up a lot easier when you no longer use the pressure washer.
The T50 patio cleaner however is a mixed bag. In use it mimics a hovercraft when the water comes on and you can see and feel the effect from the moment you use it. It is a very powerful attachment and creates a thin mist like powerful cloud of water from its water spreader arm which revolves constantly. Now I don't own a patio but in normal use with other attachments, the T50 came into its own being using vertically for washing down garage doors as well as being able to deal with sandstone step tiles. However thanks to that pressure it is possible to damage tiles as I found out! Although Karcher suggest put the T50 directly down onto the surface I found it easier to allow it hover just above tiling so not to cause cracks. It won't work on edges though and this is also a warning in the user manual.
One other attachment and one which I did not get with the K2.99M is a wash brush. I was recommended to get this by my neighbour who has an old Karcher wash system. Karcher's own site charge around £20 to £40 for this item. I however got one from a private seller on EBay for around £6. The brush is ideal for cars as it only allows a gentle stream of water to come through, and the bristles are bushy, soft to the touch and measure around 5cm in length. Here is where the attachment serves a purpose; not only is it ideal to gently wash cars, but it can also be used for just about anything you want to gently wash down. I found it ideal for example to wash down old garden chairs as well as metal tables. Karcher also produce their own ranges of cleaning liquids which can be used in conjunction with their pressure washers and the K2.99M has a vacuum cleaning liquid tube, easy just to pull out and put into a container with non-flammable cleaning solutions fit for cleaning cars, windows and patios. Although I haven't invested in this, I have used the cleaning suction tube to extract "Stardrops" for our outside windows which takes the liquid and adds it to the stream of water emerging; so much easier than applying cleaning agent yourself and then having to return to the pressure washer; after use just push the tube back into the machine.
After all that washing down, then comes the challenge of cleaning everything up. Using a stiff garden brush and shovel you'll need this to brush up all manner of dirt, mud and weeds - or whatever dirt has been left behind. Here is one reason alone to why I keep my old and heavy Vax 3 in 1 vacuum cleaner; picking up mud and dirt in difficult to get at areas in the garden is a hell of a lot easier to suck up than try and get the garden brush. It is a messy job with cleaning up what the pressure washer has brought up, but if you have a wet and dry vacuum, use it; it will cut your collecting time in half if you have just pressure washed a large area outside your home. Once you have cleared away the K2.99M I find it useful to tip the machine over at an angle to let any remaining water flow out. I also press the trigger so that no water exists in the hose or the main arm. Then it's just a simple exercise of rolling up the water hose (but be careful not to bend it or put kinks in it as it is made of thick rubber but can bend or kink in use) to store on the on board hook, attachments locked back in and then wheel it back to the shed.
The beauty of Karcher however isn't just the wealth of experience backed into a very reliable machine which can cope with just about anything, or perhaps it comes with a few good attachments. Being Karcher means that just about any wash attachment can be interchangeable and can all be used on all Karcher pressure washers; I'd like to offer that places such as B&Q, Homebase, Argos, Tesco and from time to time private hardware and garden centres who sell Karcher machines may give the best deals for optional accessories but I'm not convinced since dealing with sellers on EBay. Where EBay suffers from however is overpriced pressure washer machines at cost and in this instance it is Tesco who have come up trumps with the Karcher K2.99M and its "free" T50 patio cleaner but I bet it won't be around for long! So if you're in the market for a pressure washer, it has to be a Karcher just for the point that accessories and spares are readily - and always - available. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Mobile High-pressure washer. High pressure trigger with integrated spray nozzle / Power: 1.5 kW / Working Pump Pressure: 20-110 bar / Flow Rate: 340 l/h / Max. Water Feed Temperature: 40°C / Weight without Accessories: 9.1 kg