If you have a pressure washer then you probably have had times when the washer hasn’t quite worked the way you expect it to. Like any kind of appliance, there are so many different issues that could cause a drop in performance. Now, unless you’re a veteran user then you maybe have no idea where to start. That’s where this troubleshooting guide will come in!
A drop in performance on your pressure washer could be due to a number of different faults. Low pressure, water leaking or even spikes in pressure are all common issues that occur when using a pressure washer. Troubleshooting these and fixing them yourself where possible can save you time and money in the long run.
Common Pressure Washer Faults and How to Check For Them
There are several different faults that can occur in different categories so here’s an organized list of the potential issues and how to identify them.
If you’re experiencing lower pressure than expected there are a few reasons for this. Your first check should be the water supply. If there is not enough water getting to your washer then you won’t have as much pressure output as you want.
Checking the hose for kinks and to make sure it’s actually wide enough for the amount of water you want is a good bet. A blocked water inlet filter could also cause low pressure, so cleaning this out is always a good start.
If you’re seeing the pressure pulsing (intervals of high and low pressure), this could be caused by the pump sucking in air. To check for this, turn the washer off except for the water supply and squeeze the trigger to release pressure build up. There could also be some slight blockage in your nozzle. Cleaning this with a needle and fresh water is a simple way to solve this. Adding vinegar can help get rid of more stubborn deposits.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes be due to a faulty pump, which will usually result in simply having to replace the pump itself.
Checking the nozzle will often lead to solving a lot of other pressure problems, such as seeing no pressure at all or seeing pressure drops after a few seconds of use.
If your pressure washer is leaking, this is usually very easy to spot. The real question is where is the water coming from?
The worst case scenario is if the water is leaking from the pump. This can mean that some of the seals are worn or damaged and so need to be replaced. Luckily the warranty will usually cover this. Sometimes, however it can be as simple as tightening some of the bolts on the pump itself so all you need is a spanner!
If the water is leaking from the hose then this is easy to spot and easy to fix. Check the connection and re-connect if it looks loose. There are rubber seals here that could be replaced as well.
Water could also be leaking from the wand itself (which is maybe a touch harder to see, since water is meant to come from around there). Again, checking the connections and ensuring they’re fitted together properly will more often than not stop this leak.
Petrol/Diesel Washer Issues
There are some faults that will depend on the kind of washer you have. Petrol and diesel washers can have different issues to an electric one.
One of the most obvious faults will be if the engine does not start. Troubleshooting this will be very similar to troubleshooting any other kind of engine. Check that there is fuel (obvious I know, but easy to check) and also that the choke is in the correct position (refer to the manual for what position it should be in).
Again, a pressure build-up could be present, so this can be solved in the same way as before. Checking the spark plugs is key as well. These can be replaced if needed which should solve any issues relating to them.
The engine could also suddenly stop running while you’re using the washer. This could mean that the oil needs to be changed which is easy to do. A dirty air filter could also cause this so cleaning the air filter will more than likely solve this issue too.
If there is oil dripping from the engine then the seals around the engine need to be replaced ASAP. This is covered by warranty (usually) so you won’t be out of pocket.
The most serious issue will be noticeable if the oil looks sort of milky or murky. This means that water has leaked through into the oil. If you’re lucky then it’s just the seals that need replaced as before. If you’re not so lucky then the entire engine will need to be repaired (this is usually through warranty as well).
Electric Washer Issues
Electric pressure washers will have a different set of possible faults and troubleshooting one of these is similar to any other electrical appliance.
Pretty much all the issues can be traced back to the power source. If the machine won’t start at all, then the socket that it’s plugged into could be faulty. To solve this you can replace the fuse in the plug and see if that fixes the issue. A more costly fault is if the motor itself is faulty. Pretty much the only way to solve this is to replace the motor.
The washer could also be failing during washing and (if none of the other issues mentioned above are the cause) this is due to the voltage being supplied. Too low a voltage will mean that you can’t use the washer properly (and it is generally not safe to do so). Check that the voltage you’re using is in range of the manufacturer’s guidelines.
As you can see, many of the faults listed here can be prevented almost entirely with regular maintenance. In one of my last posts I went into detail about how to maintain your pressure washer effectively.
Regular checks of seals and joints is a must when owning a washer. Petrol washers will need regular oil changes which can help prevent a lot of issues as well as allow you to spot others whilst you’re going about the inner workings of the machine.
Cleaning the nozzles and the connections can help prevent seeing a lot of the issues with pressure that were mentioned above.
Keeping the hoses connecting pipes free of kinks as well as always ensuring you use pipes with large enough diameters will save you a lot of grief in the long run.
As you can see there are a myriad of faults that you might face when using your pressure washer! Luckily most are easy to solve and can be treated like other appliances that can develop similar faults.
As mentioned before, careful maintenance will generally mean that you don’t really experience these faults and that will save you time and money, which is always a huge plus!