Quick hacks for pressure washer troubleshooting

Pressure washer acting up? Here are some troubleshooting and maintenance tips to avoid common issues.

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Do you have a patio, driveway, or cement yard that frequently needs deep cleaning? Do you need a quick way to remove tough stains, grease, caked-on soil, or rust? Or, perhaps you just want a more efficient way to clean your car. Using a pressure washer not only saves you time in these scenarios—but also takes care of most of the heavy lifting.

Whether you’re considering buying or renting a pressure washer or already have one of your own, you should know that just like any appliance, it is prone to hiccups. Keep basic pressure washer troubleshooting tips handy in case of pressure washer problems.

Types of pressure washers

1. Gas

gas pressure washer

This type of pressure washer is best for deep cleaning, as it delivers higher pressure. The downside is they are typically noisier, clunkier, and just like any tool that operates on an engine, at risk of overheating. It’s often used for:

  • Deep cleaning driveways, decks, or cement yards

  • Heavy-duty stain removal

  • Keeping work areas in production facilities clean (industrial type)

  • Cleaning large vehicles

  • Cleaning the exterior of your home, including awnings

2. Electric

white electric pressure washer

Typically smaller than gas pressure washers, electric models produce lower pressure that’s fit for regular cleaning rather than stain removal or deep cleaning. Because of lower pressure, they can be used for longer periods—but keep in mind that you’d be restricted to the length of its power cord and hose. Some most common uses are:

  • Cleaning wood decks, outdoor furniture, and pathways

  • Cleaning windows and fencing

  •  Deep cleaning miscellaneous gear, like lawn mowers

3. Battery-powered

yellow battery-operated pressure washer

A battery-powered pressure washer is a compact tool that produces less pressure, so they’re great for lighter-duty tasks. Because it’s portable, you can virtually use it for anything—but keep in mind that it shouldn’t take the place of a full-size washer if you need deep cleaning. A battery-powered pressure washer can be used for:

  • Cleaning tiled bathrooms and showers

  • Cleaning sports equipment, from bikes to golf clubs

  • Flushing out gutters

Common pressure washer issues and what to do

Depending on the type you use, you might encounter instances when your pressure washer won’t work properly. Before handing it off to a professional handyman for service or repair, simple maintenance and simple troubleshooting might do the trick.

Pressure washer won’t start

There may be several culprits in this case. The first thing you want to do is ensure that your pressure washer is in good condition to run. For gas pressure washers, that means checking that you’re not out of gas or engine oil and that the engine is switched on.

If you’re using an electric variety, verify that the pressure washer is plugged in appropriately to the source—you may just be dealing with a loose plug (or maybe a faulty outlet).

Meanwhile, if your battery-powered pressure washer isn’t working, you may have to recharge or replace your batteries and clean the connection.

A few more steps you can take to resolve this issue include:

  • Squeezing the trigger gun to release any pressure that has built up in the system.

  • Opening the fuel valve and choke in case of any blockages

  • Reconnecting a loose spark plug

  • Cleaning the carburetor in case it’s clogged

Pressure washer stops while in use

This is likely because your gas pressure washer needs to be refilled with oil or a dirty air filter needs replacing. Meanwhile, if you encounter this while using your electric pressure washer, check to see if the voltage is within the motor’s specified range.

leaking pipes on a pressure washer

Water leaks

Do you notice water leaking out of the machine’s pump or spray wand? Check if there are any broken or loose seals and bolts. If the leak comes from the pump, also check the thermal release valve—if this is activated, it might cause water leaks. Wait five minutes before use so the thermal release valve cools down enough.

If the water leaks come from the spray wand, the o-ring inside the hose connection may have been damaged. In this case, getting it replaced should eliminate leaking.

Low to no pressure

Is the pressure washer not building pressure or not producing water output? It can be a cause of stress if your machine isn’t helping you clean as it should.

First, you want to check that you have enough water supply and that water flow isn’t being restricted—look for signs of any clogging, leaks, or kinks in the hose you’re using. You also want to inspect other parts of your pressure washer that could be blocked such as the inlet, spray gun, and nozzle. You may have to clean them if you find any debris.

A dull or worn nozzle, or one that isn’t the right fit for your pressure washer, may also reduce pressure so ensure that it’s attached properly or replace it if necessary.

Pulsing pressure

Another pressure-related problem you might face is when your pressure washer pulsates. It might be that there’s air in the system—in which case, you simply need to press the trigger on the spray gun until you see a consistent flow of water.

Pulsing pressure may also be due to obstructions, whether in the inlet, nozzle, or gun. A thorough cleaning of these parts should clear this up.

You might also have to adjust the power if you notice your engine or motor is fluctuating. Lastly, this issue might come down to a faulty or damaged pump. Your pressure washer should be serviced for the pump to be repaired or replaced.

Pressure washer care

person using a pressure washer on the pavement

Especially if you’ve been using your pressure washer for some time, there are some issues you’re bound to encounter. However, a few good practices can keep your machine running smoothly and minimize wear:

  •  Release compressed air from the system. Run the machine until water stops flowing to purge compressed air.

  • Routinely check for any obstructions in nozzles, tubes, tanks, and hoses. It’s important to keep not only the exterior clean but ensure no debris could cause further damage later on.

  • Make sure to winterize your pressure washer by draining water and filling it with antifreeze before storage during cold seasons to keep the pump in good condition.

Troubleshoot your pressure washer

If you’ve hit a snag while using your pressure water and find that none of the above troubleshooting or maintenance tips works, it may be time to get it serviced by a professional. Book a Tasker today to get your pressure washer back to tip-top shape.

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