Pressure washers are fast becoming a staple of home cleaning equipment. Whether you have a large outdoor garden space or a smaller concrete driveway, a pressure washer makes a world of difference to your cleaning tasks.
To continue to reap the benefits of owning a pressure washer, proper maintenance and storage is key.
Pressure washers will generally need to be stored away in winter. It is not as simple as just finding a dry place to put it away, however, there are a number of things that need to be done before it can be stored. Following good practice here can ensure a long life for your washer and save you money in repairs or replacement.
Maintaining your pressure washer through the warm months
Pressure washers are great for use in spring and summer, when there are longer days and going outside to do DIY doesn’t seem quite so draining.
Even though you’ll be using the washer regularly, careful maintenance is important to keep it in good working order. If you saw my post on electric washers vs petrol washers, then you’ll have seen that maintaining each kind of washer is quite different.
Check The Filters, Joints and Couplings For Leaks
For both washer varieties, checking the filters regularly (about every 4 hours) is recommended. If clogged then washing them through is crucial for good performance. Foam air filters can be washed, but paper filters will need to be replaced.
Checking over all joints and couplings for leaks before use will prevent loss of cleaning power in the future. Most will be water leaks but there is potential for some air leaks to occur. An easy way to check for this is to spread soapy water across the joints. If air is leaking out, you’ll be able to see bubbles forming on the film you’ve put across the joint. You can also buy bespoke leak-detection spray, but this is simply glorified soap water in a can.
If any leaks are found in the high pressure hoses, then these will need to be replaced. It’s generally a good idea, when replacing, to go for hoses that have a higher rated pressure range, to reduce the risk of future leaks.
Change The Oil
Oil changes are another task to keep on top of. About every 50 hours is recommended for regular changes, though if you check the oil before that and it’s dark in colour, then an oil change is needed. Similarly, if you haven’t used the washer in about 12 months, changing the oil is best practice here as well. These oil changing tips apply to both the pump and the engine of your washer.
The oil changes are about the only really long term pieces of maintenance. If you have a petrol pressure washer, then you also need to change the spark plugs once a year.
Descale if You’ve Got Hardwater
If you happen to live in an area where your water is hard, then you will also need to descale your washer, as limescale build up will lead to severely reduced performance. This will need to be done yearly.
After use, it is always best (especially if you have been using detergent) to run clean water through the system for a couple of minutes. This will make sure you don’t get any clogs in the pipes. As well as this, once you’ve turned the machine off, use the nozzle a few times to relieve any pressure left in the system.
These pieces of advice are good for keeping your washer functioning properly during spring and summer when you’ll be using it a lot.
Come winter, though, it will be time to pack up the washer and keep it out of action until spring rolls around again.
How to prepare your washer for storage
Before you get round to actually putting the washer away, there are a variety of things to do to prepare it for hibernation.
Drain All The Water Out
The most important thing is to make sure no water remains in the washer. Think of it like your central heating. In winter, you want to keep the heating on at a low setting so that your pipes don’t get filled with ice.
Here is the same idea, except you simply remove the water to prevent ice formation (something I can’t really do with our heating!).
Essentially you want your washer to be completely dry before you pack it away for storage. This is even more crucial if you’re planning to store the washer in an area with no heating (like a garden shed).
You can also perform a flush of the detergent tank on your washer. Filling the tank with warm water will remove any leftover detergent. Alternatively, if your pump has a suction tube, this can be placed into a bottle of warm water and the pump turned on, flushing warm water through the system.
Stablise The Fuel
As well as draining water, stabilising the fuel is important (if you have a petrol power washer like a Wilks). After 30 days, fuel will start to go stale, which can lead to problems if you try to run the washer in this state. Adding a fuel stabiliser to the tank will prevent this. Once the stabiliser is added, turn the pump on to circulate the stabiliser all through the system.
For electric washers, the fuel advice can be ignored and the preparation is much easier. Simply remove the water and detergent from your washer as described above.
Disconnect All Hoses
After these steps, you can disconnect all hoses and attachments from your washer, to ensure that none of the seals get stretched or otherwise damaged in storage.
Once this is done, turn on the washer one last time, which will spray out any residual water. Keep it on until nothing else comes out (probably about 20 seconds).
If you live in a particularly cold area, then before putting the machine away, it is best to add a 1:1 mix of water and antifreeze to the pump, to ensure that the pump does not suffer from ice damage during the winter.
Pump saver oil is also a good addition, which will prevent rust and also help with the ice build up. This also keeps the joints and seals lubricated and will mean you don’t have to replace them when you get the washer out again.
Once all these steps have been taken, the pressure washer can then be stored away for the winter. You can store the washer in anywhere where there is no moisture. If it is possible to store it in a heated area, then great, but not everyone has the luxury of heated outbuildings! A garden shed or garage will work just fine.
And that’s about it for pressure washer storage. As you can see there’s actually a lot more to it than just putting it away.
Following these steps will save you money from buying replacement parts (or an entirely new washer) and will keep the washer at peak performance for longer, which will save you time in your cleaning jobs as well.