The View From Faraway Farm: Being under pressure ain't always a bad thing

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Living many miles from any kind of municipal water system means having your own water source. Mine happens to be an Artesian well. This drilled well has a depth of just 40 feet, which has proven to be more than adequate on our steep side hill location. We have all kinds of water running just under the surface, and each spring we get to see exactly where the springs are. One is on our side hill and the other is beneath our driveway. I had drainage put in many years ago and it has kept the area from turning into a mud pit every spring. Needless to say, our grass grows in thick and luxuriant, causing us to mow very frequently at the beginning of every summer season. Yet even at its driest, such as last summer, our little well has never been under stress, for which we are grateful. One of my neighbors has a ten foot deep dug well and he can say the same. We just got lucky, I guess.

There is a difference in water pressure between our Artesian well and "town water" as we always called the municipal system. Every municipal system I was ever hooked up to had amazing water pressure. I remember turning on the faucet in the bathroom when I lived in Charlestown, N.H., only to hear (and feel) a very loud "twanging" noise, for lack of a more descriptive term. It was the nearest water main letting go. For a minute there I thought I'd caused that thing to blow somehow, but it just gave out from old age or corrosion. It was a very definitive example of just how much pressure goes through those municipal lines. Using a garden hose to wash my car was always satisfying because of that great pressure. Doing the same thing with a well pump just isn't quite as satisfying. Oh, it is adequate but isn't the same. Even taking a shower is a bit different. We don't get that "sandblasting" pressure when showering like we did with town water.

There are a few chores around the place that could use some high-pressure water, so I finally broke down and purchased a small electric pressure washer last week. I did my research, finding one that boasts over 2,000 PSI of water pressure, depending on which pressure nozzle you choose from the five nozzles that came with it. While not the cheapest unit, it is also far from the most expensive, yet most reviews on this particular pressure washer stated that the 2,000 PSI of pressure was plenty adequate to tackle tough jobs. Well, once I picked it up and spent about a half hour carefully assembling it, I put it to the test.

I didn't choose anything too easy, in my opinion. One of the most stubborn things I've tried to clean was some plastic lattice work surrounding the crawl space beneath our front porch. I chose the plastic stuff for its low maintenance, never thinking that the side with no sun exposure would quickly begin to show signs of mildew.

Last fall I got some super heavy duty detergent, a good stiff brush, and the garden hose and went to work on it. My results were less than the gleaming white that I anticipated. Part of the problem is the fake wood grain designed into the latticework. It captures dirt and moisture and makes cleaning a lot harder. This time around I diluted some of that super duper detergent and dumped it into the dispenser on the pressure washer and employed the lowest pressure nozzle to evenly distribute the mixture onto the latticework. I let it sit for about three minutes. Then I snapped on one of the highest pressure nozzles with a very narrow stream and went to work. This time around I got the results I was looking for.

I wasn't done yet. A couple of years ago when we did a house painting job, a couple of the young fellows doing the front of the house got really sloppy around the stone patio there. White paint drips were on the beautiful old stones that had come from the stone quarry in Gassetts. Without using any detergent I hit it with the pressure washer. About 80 percent of the paint simply washed away. It was getting dark when I tackled that job, so I quit early. The next time I'm out there I'm quite certain that those unsightly drips will be eradicated.

I've got a number of jobs lined up for the pressure washer, and it's got me thinking that I should have gotten one of these things years ago. It has already proven to be a worthwhile tool, and I'm looking forward to the satisfaction of cleaning with less effort than ever before. There's nothing like tackling a dirty job under pressure.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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