Troubleshooting Common Pressure Washer Problems

Today’s article of mine throws light on tackling and troubleshooting pressure washer problems like a mechanic. 

Problems such as 

  • 👉 Low water pressure
  • 👉 Issues related to water leaking
  • 👉 Sudden turn off of motor or engine when in use
  • 👉 And others

First answer this question of mine: 

Have you ever in your life helped any neighbor of yours in fixing up something. If yes, then I am sure the news spreads in the neighborhood like a fire in the forest. 

Soon you are treated like a trouble fixing gal or guy. 

Neighbors develop a different attitude towards you …. extra nice, is what I call it, ha ha!

I remember an incident, once I was just standing in my front lawn and my friend of mine called me and offered a milkshake (that I love to drink) and after that switched on to the topic of trouble shooting. He had a problem in his pressure washer, i.e. It started with pressure and then went to a low-pressure mode.

This was an electric thing and after watching I came to know according to my experience that somewhere air in the pump was the reason for this problem. Both of us held the trigger and tried to clear the air from pump and the lines while the water supply was on. After treating this my friend turned on and off button of the machine a couple of times and all went well.

You will love this beginner’s guide

You can imagine that, after turning on your pressure washer the water comes speedily and suddenly goes very low on pressure, and hampers your cleaning. 

Oh! How irritable this can be. 

This guide will certainly help you in knowing the problems and fixing it on your own even without any experience. You can just fix up with ease and with minimal tools. Just from your garage you can work to fix. 

Can refer any section directly:

  • 👉 The summary of trouble shooting tips
  • 👉 Tips for trickier fixes
  • 👉 Essential tools and accessories (12)
  • 👉 Repairing hot water pressure washer
  • 👉 Tips and tricks that are brand specific
  • 👉 Putting it together

Trouble Shooting Tips For Gas And Electric Pressure Washers (20 Most Common Problems)

The most common issues relating to pressure washers are as follows 

How these problems are found out:

  • 👉 The emails in bulk, reading them and finding out what problems are being faced by the pressure washer users. Trying to figure it out on an excel worksheet. 
  • 👉 Operating manuals of the best 15 brands of pressure washers also list a lot of things, that was tabulated according to the trouble shooting sections.
  • 👉  Power washer log books also consulted to list the common reasons.

After hours (15 to 20) of hard work and gathering the statistics the problems could be broken down into 5 different sections. All problems such as water pressure problems, water leaking issues, faults of electric pressure washers, problems of gas machines and other issues. Later on, the trouble shooting tips are further listed in 3 columns. 

Point to be noted:

In case of any problem just go through the operator’s manual. There you can find out safety first and tips for trouble shooting with many possible solutions to one problem. 

Summarized Table – Trouble Shooting Tips 

Aiming to provide you with the best trouble shooting tips relating to pressure washers. The best guide so far, and last updated on January 29, 2020. Our motive is to give you latest and improved ways of trouble shooting with ease from your home.

Problems Regarding Water Pressure

What Went Wrong?

1. In case of Low Pressure

Reason

The supply of water is insufficient from the inlet

The water filter inlet is completely blocked.

No nozzle or incorrect nozzle.

Solution

You can just unkink the garden hose, let the water come out from the tap with full pressure, a garden hose of larger diameter should be used (manual can be referred)

Garden hose connection and debris should be removed

A nozzle of correct size should be used.

2. If no pressure

Unloader valve is damaged

Pump inlet valves are damage

The unloader screw to be adjusted and any seals or springs should be checked

The pump to be disassembled, and cleaning and replacement of components of inlet

3. Pulsing pressure (low and high)

The pump inlet valves are damaged

The pump is faulty

The pump is sucking air

Obstructions in nozzle, water, inlet filter or spray wand

The pump to be disassembled, and components of inlet manifold to be cleaned or replaced

The machine to be turned off without closing the water supply, the pressure can be released by squeezing the trigger gun

The pump to be replaced

Needle can be used to clear the nozzle, water inlet to give fresh water and vinegar can be used to clean and clear deposits of gun or wand

4. Spiking pressure

The unloader valve is calibrated poorly

The unloader should be adjusted for proper pressure by following manual guidelines

5. The dropping pressure after seconds of use

A blocked nozzle

Unloader valve issues

Unloader can be removed and cleaned and repaired

Nozzle can be cleaned using a needle

6. The surface cleaning is not proper with the pressure washer

Nozzle is a misfit (wrong one)

A nozzle of high pressure to be used

Issues of Water Leaking

What Went Wrong?

7. Pump water leaking

Reason

Worn, cracked or broken seals

The bolts are loose on pump assembly

Activation of thermal valve

Solution

Replacement and return can happen when under warranty

The bolts to be tightened in proper manner for proper sealing

Before using it, wait till 5 mins. As deactivation will be done once cool

8. Water leaks from connection of garden hose

The connection is not proper or a broken one

Rubber washer is broken

Establish proper connection

Replacement is the best option

9. Leakage from spray wands or connections

The O-ring is broken inside the Garden hose connection

Improper connection

The O-ring can be replaced or returned for change

Establish proper connection

Issues of Gas Power Washers

What Went Wrong?

10. Engine doesn’t start

Reason

There is no gas

Wrong position of choke

In case pressure builds up

The spark plug wire isn’t connected properly

The spark plug has faults

Solution

The gas to be filled

The movement to be done to proper position by following the manual

The trigger gun to be squeezed to release pressure

The wire to be connected

It should be replaced

11. Incase engine stops working while in use

The oil level is low

The air filter is dirty

The oil should be checked and filled

Clean it or can be replaced

12. The engine is low on power

The air filter is dirty

The engine isn’t running at correct RPM

Should be cleaned or replaced

Detach pump and adjust the RPM according to engine specifications

13. Engine and oil drips

The worn-out seals

They can be replaced using warranty

14. The water looks milky

The pistons are broken or worn-out, letting the water through

The seals are worn-out

The engine needs to be repaired using warranty

The seals can be replaced by warranty coverage

Electric Pressure Washer Problems

What Went Wrong?

15. The machine doesn’t start

Reason

A faulty electric outlet

Improper plugging

The motor is faulty

Solution

The plug and main fuse to be checked

Plug in properly

Should be returned under warranty

16. Incase the motor stops running when in use

The voltage is low

It should be checked that the voltage is in specified range

Other Common Issues

What Went Wrong?

17. The improper working of detergent injector

Reason

A wrong nozzle is being used

The soap tube inlet filter is clogged (the end of hose in the soap bottle)

The clogging or blocking of soap inlet valve (tube’s pump side)

A thick detergent mix

Solution

A black soaping nozzle should be inserted on wand

Should be flushed with fresh water

The hose to be removed and the debris to be removed using an Allen key of a small size

Water to be added for diluting

18. Pressure fluctuations due to irregular bypass

The unloader valves, springs or other components are broken or worn-out

Improper installation of unloader valve

Leakage of water from unloader valve

A dirty unloader

They should be removed or replaced

The valve should be removed and installed properly, at the pump housing’s bottom

The worn or broken seals to be reinstalled as per specifications

Clean it after removing

19. A lot of noise

A blocked water intake

The engine has less oil

The pump doesn’t have enough oil

It should be checked, cleaned and replaced

It should be checked and oil to be added

After disassembling it should be checked or returned under warranty

20. Oil leakage from the pump

The bolts and fittings are loose

The parts are damaged (pistons, seals)

They should be checked and tightened

It should be disassembled for a proper check and also cleaned and replaced under warranty

Correct it (Instructions)

The Problematic Affair 

 Some issues are quite tricky to be resolved, and this section of the article focuses on those. Sensitive issues that require the pump to be torn down. 

👉 The water supply to be checked

First thing is to check the water supply, and confirm that there is adequate flow in the pump. 

👉 The hose kinks to be checked

To find the underlying problem, a lot of checking and testing is required. From inlet valves to nozzles, I even check the blocks by turning off and on again and again. I just read the manual and instructions for confirming the exact problem. Then suddenly come across the kink in the hose and realize that, I should have checked it before. After fixing up the kink and restarting, all is well. So, with my experience I can say check the kinks first. 

👉 Releasing air from the system

The power washer should always be connected first to the garden hose. Later on, the tap should be turned on and the trigger gun to be pulled in order to release the water from the system. This should be done before you start the engine or motor. In this way all the air will be released, enabling the pump to function properly. 

👉 A correct and unclogged nozzle 

In case of any dust or debris a needle can be used to clean the nozzle. The blocks will go and will trigger the unloader to enter bypass along with increased pressure.

👉 If issues still unresolved

If you are still facing problems then there arises a need to use tools. A little more guidance below:

Removing the Unloader Valve to check issues

What does an unloader valve do?

These unloaders help in letting the water run with pressure, and without them the pressure will build inside the system. So, triggering might lead to exploding of a weak link part or stalling of the engine (pressure hose O-ring)

Find out the location of the unloader valve in the 3 different washer pumps 

The unloader valve is present on the pump’s exit side. These valves allow the water to flow backward through the pump, while the water is not in high pressure in the hose. There is no pressure washing done by you at this time. 

Pressure Washer Unloader Valve Locations

Take a glance at disassembled unloader assemblies

The picture on the left is of gas pressure from Stanley. This one is flow actuated. 

The picture on the right is of an electric pressure washer from AR Blue Clean. 

You can take out these assemblies without any damage made to them. Clean and repair them properly as required. 

Flow actuated washers VS Pressure actuated washers

Flow actuated 

These valves are the ones that respond when the water flow is stopped. The valve opens in case of no flow and the water flows to the pump inlet. 

Pros:

The flow actuated valves are safe to use and don’t require any pressure build up.

Cons:

 These are more sensitive to clogging nozzles, or incorrect nozzle opening sizes and even flow problems

Pressure actuated 

Unlike flow actuated loader this one doesn’t respond and it opens wide in case of increased water pressure letting the water to bypass to the inlet. This happens due to flow stoppage. 

Pros: 

➽ This one shows less sensitivity to the flow issues that arise in the system. If the water is trapped on the outlet side of the pump, this one responds only to that.

Cons: 

➽ This one is not safe to use as it needs the pressure rise and this may cause failures in the system.

Unloader Valve troubleshooting

A whole lot of pressure related problems can arise due to unloader. Dirt in the spring, a stuck shaft, cracked O-ring are some of the common causes. You can solve them by removing the unloader and cleaning them or resolving the concerned issues.

Disassembled Unloader Valve

Vital Tools and Accessories (12)

Pressure Washer Essential Troubleshooting Tools

TOOLS 

With the help of tools, I have disassembled – from removing gas engine piston seals as well as the crankshaft. After this electric pressure washers (3), gas power washers (4), I have put back together. 

The tool kit of which brand should be chosen, individual tools should be bought and the way the pressure cleaner to be repaired. Let’s see..

Allen keys (Hex)

Allen keys Used on Pressure Washer

Most of the pump assemblies are fastened with hex head screws. These Allen keys are most commonly used for resolving trouble shooting issues. They are named so as the company being Allen manufacturing, that has been dealing in manufacturing mass produce of hex wrenches and screws since 1900. 

Their advantages 

1. This one features a recessed head, making it more durable and prone to damages. 

2. Only one is sufficient as can be used on different types of screws. Had they been different or without a hex head then the number of wrenches required would have been more in that case. So, A pocket size Hex key can help you in disassembling and repairing completely (bike, bicycle). 

3. A torque wrench is useful in tightening them according to the specification with perfection.

These are very handy when put to use and reach small areas with ease and comfort. O-rings, seals, valves can be removed with this. This I often use to put back the things together and in the right position. 

When you will have to fix any power washer faults, these are the best to use. Ensure to keep one set with you always. It confuses me sometimes as they are used so commonly.

Pliers (Needle nose)

Needlenose Pliers Often Used To Troubleshoot Pressure Cleaners

Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers are very useful for troubleshooting electric pressure cleaners

One of the most vital of all tools is none other than a screw driver, that is all you need while disassembling electric pressure washers. 

Philips head screws hold the plastic covers of electric machines that keep the pump and motor hidden. 

Even the gas machines use Philips for clamping wires and assembling their frames. The engine blocks have to be opened with torx head screws. You might also need some allotted screw drivers for parts like the pump plunger seals.

A tool set is incomplete without sockets and ratchet. 

Reason 

For every bolt size you can have a socket and a ratchet head. As sockets help in reaching to    the tight spots while the ratchet helps in tightening and removing bolts.

You cannot rule out the use of wrenches, when there is open end side and you haven’t reached the top. 

Sockets and Ratchet

Sockets needed to remove pump head on-pressure washers

Wrenches

Wrenches required on pressure washers to get to tight spaces

These have been in use since ages (15th century), and being one of the most popular and handy tools. Though, some prefer to keep sockets and ratchets (50+) as they are easy to keep and carry than carrying wrenches (50+). 

As there are many tight spots then wrenches have to be there to set them up.

Hammer is the oldest hand tool; I came to know as I read it. They were discovered ages back (30,000 years), and what we have now are the replicas of the olden day hammers. 

Now you can easily imagine its usage, amazingly important. The stubborn parts (pump head valve plate) can be made free with this while trouble shooting.

Hammer or Rubber Mallet

Hammer or Rubber Mallet is Used to Troubleshoot pressure washers

Utility knife

Utility Knife Helps To Remove Detergent Tube From Pressure Washer

Even the usage of cutting tools (knives) is also since ages. They also help in trouble shooting any sort of faults, and can also quickly remove the detergent hose. They also assist in loosening the tight-fitting components. It’s better to cut the hose as pliers might damage them. 

And the best thing is everyone has knives of many types, so need not buy them.

It’s much easier and more precise to use snips, I like to use them. Snips are good to own as they can easily cut a hose to a shorter size for fixing it. These are of metal and can easily cut through branches, hoses, rubber and more. If a pressure washer hose bursts you can fix with this.

Snips

Snips help troubleshoot pressure washer problems

Accessories

You will definitely want to own a silicon grease while reinstalling, 0-rings and WD-40. 

Which is the best tool set?

A kit that possesses everything what you want? You can trouble shoot almost every pressure cleaner. 

A 170-piece mechanic tool set – by Crescent.

This one contains:

Hex Keys

Screwdrivers 

Wrenches

Sockets and ratchets

Pliers

Snips (built-in needle nose pliers) 

A Carry case

If you are planning to buy a tool kit then this one is the best of all.

Best-Pressure-Washer-Troubleshooting-Tool-Set

Trouble Shooting The Hot Water Power Washers

The three main faults that are suffered by hot water pressure washers

1. They produce no hot water

2. The blower emits no flames

3. Smoke with a weird color that comes out of the burner

The reasons might be more than 15 and so are the fixes. 

Knowing The Burner Components 

The working 

The water is heated with the help of a burner by the hot pressure washer. The circulation of water takes place in the tubes that are coiled like that of a snake. The hot water pressure washer consumes diesel, kerosene with electricity that generates a fire inside the chamber. From bottom to top the water reaches and exits as hot water. (circulation takes place throughout the coil and around the flame). 

As fire is there so a lot of risk is involved for the same. It is advised to get it fixed from a center. But some fixes are simple.

Pressure Washer Burner Anatomy

The parts of a pressure washer burner are understated

1. Steel coil

2. Insulation

3. Spray nozzle

4. Blower motor

5. Air adjustment slider

6. Fuel filter

7. Exhaust

8. Thermostat controller

9. Flow switch

10. Pressure release valve

11. Ignition transformer

Tips And Tricks For Diagnosing And Resolving Power Washer Issues

The types, styles and common issues relating to specific and popular brands.

Troubleshooting- Troy Bilt 

The Troy Bilt is into selling gas powered machines of medium duty. The manufacturing is done in the factories by Briggs as specified by Troy Bilt. 

This one doesn’t face any kind of no pressure or low-pressure issues (refer the above given tips).

Generac 

This one specializes in manufacturing commercial use heavy-duty machines and also belt driven units. The overseas OEM manufacture their pumps and engines. While the assembling of the components is done in the US factories. 

Karcher 

This one makes all sorts of pressure washers. The subsidiary brands such as Landa, Shark, Hotsy. These are one of the biggest pressure washer manufacturers world over. They boast of an extensive network (service n rental). They make small engines and pumps of premium quality.

Simpson

The Simpson cleaning deals in selling machines of residential and commercial use. CAT pumps are also used by them, and also possess two home brands OEM technologies and AAA pumps. The wheel barrow stance is one of the most robust and easy to carry pressure washer. They manufacture residential gas machines of premium quality. 

Problems like low or no pressure or soap not entering system may be faced. 

If you are pressure washing then at some or the other point you may need to trouble shoot due to any of the reasons. Low pressure, no pressure, a busted O-ring or others. 

After having apt knowledge, you can just resolve issues on your own with minimal tools and less time. 

Wrapping quickly 

The summary of above article

  • No or low pressure

Check the water supply first, then clogging of inlet filter, blockage of nozzle. Engine can be turned off and the trigger to be pulled for releasing air. There are chances of unloader valve being stuck. (refer in the article). 

  • Water leakage from connections

It should be ensured properly that the connections are secure with proper fitting. If the water squirts out while pressure washing, likely due to a busted O-ring.  Get it replaced from the manufacturer or centre.

You can go through the article and refer to whatever is necessary. 

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