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Pressure Washer Troubleshooting – Solutions to Common Problems

22 July 2011 20,196 views 6 Comments

Pressure washer troubleshooting and repair doesn’t have to be difficult and you can solve many common problems on your own. My guide will show you how.

Most max psi washer contraptions, especially the ones that I recommend on this site, are very well built, durable, reliable, and are constructed of high quality parts. However, despite your best efforts, you may run into some problems with your power washer from time to time. Most of these problems can be solved very easily on your own, however in some cases you may need to take your unit in to have it serviced. The following are some common problems that may crop up and what you can do to solve them.

Troubleshooting Your Gas Powered Machine

Gas power clean-up devices require a bit more maintenance than electric washers because of their engines. Also gas machines are able to produce much more pressure than electric models, which is good, but with additional pressure and power comes the potential for more issues. The good thing though is that you can take care of most of these yourself.

Problem Cause Solution
Pump won’t produce pressure or the pressure is erratic and pulsing, or the water volume is low.
  1. Faulty pump
  2. Blocked nozzle
  3. Leaky spray gun
  4. High pressure hose leaks or is blocked.
  5. Water supply is too hot (over 100 degrees F).
  6. Inlet hose screen may be clogged.
  7. Leaking, kinked or blocked inlet garden hose.
  8. Insufficient water supply.
  9. You have a low pressure nozzle attached.
  1. Take your washer in to get it serviced or check out the video below on how to repair it yourself.
  2. Clean the nozzle by first disconnecting the gun and the spray wand. Then use a small piece of rigid wire, like a straightened paper clip to clean out any debris from the nozzle. Then flush some water backwards through the wand to make sure it’s clear.
  3. This can’t be repaired; you’ll have to replace it.
  4. Clear the blocks or replace the hose.
  5. Use colder water.
  6. Check the inlet hose screen and clean it out if needed.
  7. Unkink or unblock the hose, patch it, or get a new one.
  8. Increase the water flow.
  9. Replace the nozzle with a high pressure one.
When you add load to the engine it slows and gets bogged down. The engine may simply be set at a slow speed. Move the throttle up to a faster position. If the engine still runs slow then you’ll need to take it to a service center.
Engine won’t start, starts and won’t run smooth, or cuts off while it’s running.
  1. It could just be out of gas or low on gas.
  2. The oil is low.
  3. Air filter is dirty.
  4. Fuel may be stale.
  5. Spark plug is not properly connecting to the spark plug wire.
  6. Water in the fuel.
  7. Burnt out spark plug.
  8. Fuel mixture may be too rich.
  1. Fill ‘er up.
  2. Fill up the crankcase with oil to the right level.
  3. Clean or replace the air filter.
  4. If you didn’t properly winterize your washer then this is likely. You’ll need to drain the fuel tank and fill it with fresh fuel.
  5. Connect the wire to the spark plug.
  6. Drain the fuel tank and fill it with fresh fuel.
  7. Replace the spark plug with a new one.
  8. You’ll have to take the washer in for service if this is the case.
No power from the engine. Air filter is blocked or dirty. Clean or replace the air filter.
The cleaning solution won’t mix with the water spray.
(This only applies to you if your pressure washer siphons cleaning solution from a bucket outside the unit.)
  1. The high pressure nozzle is installed.
  2. The siphoning tube for the detergent is not submerged.
  3. The siphoning tube is cracked or clogged up.
  4. The cleaner siphoning check ball is stuck.
  1. You need to switch to a low pressure, high spread nozzle tip, or if your nozzle is adjustable, turn it to a low pressure setting.
  2. Stick the tube down into the detergent.
  3. Unclog it, clean, or replace it.
  4. Unstick or free the check ball.

Below is a fantastic 2 part video series that diagnoses the cause of a common power scrubber tool problem, low pressure, and tells you how to fix it. I knew nothing about the inner workings of a gas power cleaner pump before watching this and now I think I could actually take one apart and repair it myself.

Continue Reading on the Next Page »

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You May Also Be Interested In These Articles:

How to Properly Maintain Your Washer So It Operates at Peak Efficiency
A Guide on How to Match the Right Washer Nozzle with the Right Job
What Are The Top Rated Gas Powered Washers? Find Out My Picks.
Picking the Best Wands for Your High PSI Cleaner


  • eddy arnold said:

    Good instructional video…

  • Jenko said:

    I own a Karcher pressure washer model k 2400 HH it has a Honda GC 160 5.0 hp motor. this washer is about 7even years old it has around 100 hours of use on it . This season began really bad the unit began to have problem from no pressure to the motor running only for a few seconds, and only that at 3/4 throttle. After much research I concluded that the uloading valve was sticking which is commom for this unit. I search for a another valve but due to cost elect to get an entire overhaul kit(92.00 bucks), but when I compqared this to a whole new 3000 psi pump(current pump only 2700 psi) I elect to go with a new pump. (142.00 bucks) Installed new pup and unit still did not run more that a few seconds. removed and thorougly clean the carb twice and still same problem. More research lead me to the Spark plug. Installed a new one and unit runs like a champ. morrow of the story do the simply things first. I hope this help another Do-It-Yourselfer. P.S. The symtoms of the failure was gradual performance of the motor not wanting to run under full load until it would not run at all. Happy Cleaning to all.


  • zakar said:

    Great video with excellent as well as complete instructions. What a pleasure.

  • william said:

    Question, pressure washer burns the grass when I set it in grass to wash home? their are burned spots every where i set it. what is over heating?

  • donald haines said:

    a couple of questions,
    How much damage would there be to the pump if i ran bleach through the detergent dispenser? since then, my pump leaks oil, not a lot but does leak a couple of drops after use and slower leak when not in use.
    Secondly, are you able to remove the poppet valve without disassembling the pump? I tried a while back and that poppet valve just would not come out, the pliers just kept slipping on them and i’m afraid that the poppet tip is greatly stripped.
    Lastly, my old spray wand broke, so i went out and bought a hose, wand and 5pc. spray tips and only one of the 5 spray tips work, the pressure washer will not build up any pressure with the other 4 tips. Is it possible my karcher (at least my particular model) only accept the original wand/hose (one piece) assembly?
    I have an old karcher, model: G1800LB

  • Vic said:

    Having a problem with my pressure washer. Troy Bilt gas power. Have new gas and oil is good. Spark plug seems to be in good shape (has been cleaned and re-gapped). Engine will start but will die seconds after it does. After that it gets real difficult to pulll start again.

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