Power Washers Pressure Washer Troubleshooting

Published on March 18th, 2015 | by Jacks


Troubleshooting Your Pressure Washer

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Warmer weather is on its way, so it’s time for some spring cleaning. You get your pressure washer out to do some outdoor washing, you try turning on the engine, and nothing happens.

Or, you are in position to start washing, you pull the spray-gun trigger, and water doesn’t come out.

First, step back and take a deep breath. Now let’s figure out how to troubleshoot your pressure washer.

Nozzle and Spray-gun Troubleshooting

Your nozzle and spray gun are two important parts in your pressure washer to deliver the high pressure water spray. If these parts fail to work, here are some tips on getting them back in shape:

  • Inspect your nozzle, spray gun, connections and O-rings to make sure everything is tightened
  • Check if the nozzle, spray gun or inlet screen are clogged. Wash out if they are.
  • Replace O-rings if dirty or damaged.
  • Inspect hose for any twist, cuts, bends or dents.
  • Check your nozzle, hose, and spray gun for any clogs, dirt, and debris. Clean out or replace if needed.

Your Engine Won’t Start or is Lacking Power

If your gas-powered pressure washer engine does not start or is lacking power, there are a few things you can do.

First, check the on/off switch to see if it is in the “on” position. However, before you touch anything, turn the engine off! Even if it’s not running, turn the switch to the “off” position. You don’t want to inspect the engine while it is on, or could turn on, this could lead to serious injury and/or damage to the pressure washer engine.

After you make sure the engine is off, here are some ways to check if it is running properly:

  • Run water through pressure washer until all air is removed from the hose.
  • Check your air filter. Clean if dirty and replace if damaged.
  • Check oil level. Change if needed.
  • Top off fuel in tank
    • If your fuel is more than 30 days old, dispose of it. Always use fresh gas.
  • Make sure your spark plug is connected to the wire.
  • If your engine was smoking:
    • Check if choke is on, return to off position.
    • Make sure there is an unrestricted air flow you’re your engine (clean your air filter).

If You Find a Leak…

A leak in a pressure washer may have you at your wits end. However, some easy preventative maintenance can eliminate this. If for some reason it happens, here are some things to look over:

  • Inspect hose for any dents, cuts or twists, replace if damaged.
  • Clean or replace O-rings, if that is where the leak is stemming from.
  • Tighten all of your connections.
  • Make sure you are using the proper wand size for your pressure washer.
  • Clean filter screens on the water intakes, replace if damaged or broken.

Low Pressure Won’t Help You Clean

If the issue arises that your pressure washer isn’t providing you with the amount of pressure it should be, there are a few things that are easy to fix:

  • Make sure your nozzle is the right size and installed properly.
  • Ensure that your nozzle is not in low PSI position.
  • Make sure your water supply is not restricted by anything (bends, cuts or damage to your garden hose).
  • Look over your spray gun, nozzle and hose for any leaks.
  • Check your nozzle, hose and spray gun for any clogs or dirt and debris. Clean out or replace if needed.

Unloader Valve

The unloader valve in the pressure washer is a very important part. This keeps the pressure from building up when you aren’t spraying water. If your engine is dieing after you are finished spraying it, or you are experiencing low pressure without being able to identify the cause, it could be your unloader valve. If the unloader valve isn’t replaced when suspected to be damaged or broken, this could lead to low pressure, safety hazards, and damage to your pressure washer.

In Conclusion:

Pressure washers are a great cleaning tool, if you keep them working properly. The majority of your pressure washer malfunctions should be a simple fix. Some preventative maintenance and occasional troubleshooting can keep your pressure washer in top shape and keep you cleaning without frustration.

Jack’s Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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About the Author

Jack's Small Engines has been providing parts for outdoor power equipment online since 1997. We also run a service center for outdoor power equipment like riding mowers, snow blowers, generators, chainsaws, and just about anything else.

10 Responses to Troubleshooting Your Pressure Washer

  1. harold paul says:

    i have a excel with honda gx340 engine was in shed for about a year took it out cleaned carb got motor running now hoses leaking and little water coming out of a bottom of pump not full pressure.Had pump rebuilt 2 years ago and have not used maybe three or four times worked good last time i used it. Do u have any suggestions?

  2. Thanks so much for putting this article up. We were having problems at work with our high pressure washer but none of us could figure out what the reason was. When I suggested that we check the unloader valve (and that turned out to be the problem) I was heralded as the most valuable worker that day.

  3. ed says:

    i’ve read the questions above and am still unsure. my power washer has no pressure when i pull back on the nozzle. i think the pump is pumping out enough water, but honestly, i have nothing to compare it to. can i paste a video onto this website? i can show you the pressure i’m getting.

  4. beth porter says:

    We were trying to clean our power washer , the engine starts but as soon as I pull the trigger it dies. I don’t have a clue as to what the problem is, I would appreciate advice

  5. Jerry says:

    how do replace the unloader valve? I have a troybilt with a Briggs & Stratton engine 3000 max pressure.
    As long as the spray wand is open it runs fine as soon as I release the trigger it shuts the motor right down.

  6. Charles says:

    H1610 small electric power washer – I replaced the entire water path parts – the three sections were pre-assembled, so I believe they are correctly put together – inlet assembly, body assembly, manifold – and pump is working, but absolutely no water goes through pump passively when water source hooked up and turned on and pump motor still off. It used to leak through and bleed the air out before I started motor as instructed. and of course if turned on (briefly only to test) no water comes out then either. I can’t see any possible blockage and valves are all in correct direction – not a drop gets through, even with outlet hose off, so it’s not the trigger/nozzle.

  7. Chris says:

    How much oil dus the water pump hold can someone please help

  8. Pete says:

    I have a question. I connect the garden hose and turn on the water. Even when the engine is not started, shouldn’t water flow the machine? Even when I engage the gun, no water flows through. Any idea what the problem is?

  9. Scott says:

    So I am having an issue that when I start my pressure washer it just goes full tilt with the hose. There is no shut off option! I do not have to use the handle for it just continually runs. I have to shut down the machine to change a nozzle head not to mention it is a pain having water on full time. Any ideas what may cause this? Thanks in advance.

  10. Dianne says:

    Briggs Stratton power washer works great except when I try to put chemicals on deck it won’t draw from container, screen is clean, put on new hose nothing works

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