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Pressure Washer Maintenance

Learn the best practices for taking care of your pressure washer to ensure you get the most out of it for years to come.

Gasoline-Powered Pressure Washer

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Pressure Washer Maintenance Preparation

Maintenance needs vary between different pressure washers, and gasoline-powered models require more maintenance than electric ones. Device documentation should include a maintenance schedule and detailed steps to keep your pressure washer in top shape. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use, maintenance and safety.

Some maintenance requires you to have the pressure washer running. Don't operate a gasoline-powered pressure washer indoors or in an area that lacks proper ventilation. Direct the exhaust away from doors, windows and vents. When operating an electric pressure washer, keep the electrical connections dry and off the ground. Don't touch the plug if your hands are wet.

Caution

When replacing damaged components, use only approved replacement parts.

Before Using a Pressure Washer

pressure-washer-maintenance-before

There are basic practices you should follow before you begin pressure washing:

  1. Check the oil and fuel levels on gasoline-powered models. Top the levels off, but do not overfill.
  2. Check the water inlet screen, located where you connect the garden hose. If the screen is dirty or clogged, flush it with clear water. If it's damaged, replace it.
  3. If your pressure washer is equipped with an inline screen in the wand extension, make sure it's not clogged. Clean it with clear water, if necessary, and replace a damaged screen.
  4. Inspect the spray gun, wand extension and spray tip. Make sure the connections are secure, including the connection to the high-pressure hose.
  5. Test the spray gun trigger and trigger lock. If they don't function correctly, replace the spray gun.
  6. Examine the high-pressure hose for cuts, abrasions, leaks, bulges in the cover and other damage. Check the hose couplings. If the hose is damaged, don't try to repair it. Replace it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Check the detergent siphoning tube and clean it out if it's clogged. If the detergent system has a filter, check it as well.
  8. Flush out the garden hose you'll be connecting to the pressure washer.

After Using a Pressure Washer

Electric Pressure Washer.

After you finish your cleaning project, there are a few things you need to do before putting your pressure washer away:

  1. Rinse detergent from the pressure washer. Remove the detergent siphoning tube from the detergent supply and set the spray to low pressure. Run water through the system for one or two minutes.
  2. Relieve pressure in the machine. Turn off the pressure washer and the water supply. If you have an electric pressure washer, unplug it from the electrical outlet. Point the spray gun away from any people or animals and activate it until the water stops flowing. Engage the trigger lock.
  3. Let the pressure washer cool down.
  4. Disconnect the garden hose, spray gun, wand extension and high-pressure hose. Drain the remaining water from them.
  5. Remove any remaining water from the pump. If you have gasoline-powered model, pull the recoil handle about six times. If you have an electric model, turn the unit on until the water exits the pump and then turn it off immediately.
  6. Clean off any debris.

Engine Maintenance for Gasoline-Powered Pressure Washers

Gasoline-Powered Pressure Washer.

Maintaining the engine on a gasoline-powered pressure washer will help it run efficiently and last longer. Your manual will have details on maintenance procedures and tell you when to perform them. For these steps, disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug and place it where it cannot contact the plug. Follow any additional pre-maintenance procedures the manufacturer specifies. Work in a well-ventilated location and cover your work area with a tarp.

  1. Replace the engine oil. While the oil is warm, drain it into an oil drain pan. Refill the reservoir with the recommended oil. Do not overfill. Contact your local recycling center for disposal instructions.
  2. Inspect the spark plug. Before removing the plug, clean the area around it to prevent debris from falling into the engine's combustion chamber. Remove the plug and replace it with a new one if you find cracks or if the electrodes look burned or pitted. Before reinstalling the plug or installing a new one, check the electrode gap with a gap tool or feeler gauge and adjust as recommended.
  3. Check the air filter. Clean or replace it with a new one as needed. If you have a reusable foam filter, refer to your manual for cleaning instructions. Replace a dirty paper filter.
  4. Take care of the fuel system. Follow the pressure washer manufacturer's recommendations for fuel and fuel additives. Use gasoline that's fewer than 30 days old. Gas you buy at the pump degrades over time and can lead to corrosion and the formation of varnish in the engine and fuel system. Your manual may recommend using a fuel stabilizer that prevents engine corrosion and keeps gasoline fresh. Ethanol-free, premixed fuel is an alternative to pump gasoline that stays fresh for longer periods.
  5. Reconnect the spark plug wire before the next use.

Other Pressure Washer Maintenance

Electric Pressure Washer.

Check your manual for other maintenance procedures, including:

  • Clearing clogs in the spray tip or adjustable nozzle
  • Lubricating the connections for the hose, spray gun and wand extension
  • Replacing O-rings in the water-inlet, high-pressure hose and spray-gun connections
  • Cleaning debris from the cooling vents
  • Inspecting the muffler and spark arrestor, if your machine is equipped with them

Long-Term Pressure Washer Storage

When storing your pressure washer over the winter or for a period longer than 30 days, make sure it will be ready for your next cleaning project. Your manual will have specifics. Here are some general procedures:

  • Follow the regular maintenance steps you would after using the pressure washer.
  • If you did not treat the fuel in a gasoline-powered pressure washer with a stabilizer, drain it into an approved gasoline container. Run the pressure washer until the engine stops from lack of fuel. Contact your local recycling center for instructions on the disposal of the gasoline.
  • Store the pressure washer in a dry area, protected from freezing temperatures and other weather extremes. Keep it away from heat sources that could dry out the pump seals or ignite fuel vapors.
  • Use a pump lubricant/antifreeze. In addition to lubricating seals and pistons and protecting against freezing, the solution helps prevent damage from mineral deposits.
  • Protect the pressure washer with a cover that does not hold in moisture.
Good to Know

Don't store fuel from one season to the next unless you treat it with a fuel stabilizer.