Differentiating between steam cleaners and other cleaners such as pressure washers is important since they have different features and work in quite different ways.
Steam cleaners use near or above boiling water with water temperatures going from just under boiling as high as 130 degrees Celsius. The hot water is released as low moisture steam. The water vapour in the steam is mixed with a much greater volume of air so that the steam does not leave cleaned surfaces soaking wet or leave pools of water behind.
Pressure is an important consideration in steam cleaners. Steam from these cleaners can typically be under 100 PSI. When compared to a pressure washer that has steam at up to 5000 PSI, a steam cleaner is using very gentle low pressure. The hot low moisture vapour of a steam cleaner when combined with the low pressure makes steam cleaning a great choice for many cleaning tasks.
Heat and pressure may damage some surfaces so care should be taken to avoid damage to fixtures, plastics, decorative surfaces, anything that is made of a fragile porous material, and certain plastics. When compared to pressure washers, a steam cleaner is relatively non-abrasive. The steam will penetrate some surfaces particularly in spot removal from textile surfaces such as carpets or drapes.
Boilers heat water and allow conversion to water vapour. Larger capacity boilers operate longer without refill, all other factors being equal, but will also take longer to raise water to an operating temperature.
Do not mistake this for a machine that will not need to be manually refilled. Actually what this refers to is a machine that has a second tank for reserve water so the steam cleaner can be operated without down time. One tank only holds water. The second tank has a boiler and is pressured. This allows for safe refilling without shutting down or waiting. Some industrial units do have the function where water can be delivered via a fixed line into the machine meaning that water does not need to be manually filled.
Detail brushes need to be replaced often so always consider the brush accessories as a consumable part that will need continuous replacement. Brushes come in a variety of materials such as nylon, brass, and stainless steel. The bristles are all suited to specific cleaning tasks with nylon being suited to the most delicate surfaces and stainless steel being the most abrasive.
The detergent chamber stores cleaning products which are added to the steam however in many application, spot spraying chemical can be just as efficient and allowing the chemical to dwell for a few minutes before being steamed.
Some models and brands do have a facility of decreasing and increasing the amount of steam that is to be applied in the application.
The extraction chamber holds any waste and debris when using the integrated steam & vacuum system.
Some steam cleaners come with a wet/dry vacuum that empties automatically into an extraction tank. Some wet/dry vacuums remove allergens and dust, which are poured away as waste water.
Visit the Matrix range of steamers used in multiple commercial applications.