Pressure Washer Won’t Start? This might be why…

If you own a pressure washer you’ll know just what a useful piece of kit it is, a pressure washer can save you a lot of time, energy and hassle. From cleaning cars, patios, decking, fences, driveways, fascias and much more there’s no quicker or easier way than with a pressure washer. It can be quite frustrating when you’ve geared yourself up to get on with some pressure washing and the pressure washer won’t start.

So we’ve compiled this list of reasons why your pressure washer won’t start and the ways we know to fix it. Some problems are easier to solve than others, and some you’ll probably be better off either consulting a specialist or replacing the pressure washer altogether.

How To Fix A Pressure Washer That Won’t Start

The most obvious place to start is with the power supply, whether you own a fuel-powered pressure washer or an electric pressure washer check there first.

Check The Electricity Supply

 For an electric power washer, it’s a case of making sure the plug is connected to the main electricity supply and the power is switched on. If this doesn’t solve the problem, check the socket, this is often a job for an electrician so the easiest thing to do is to plug the pressure washer into a different socket and see if it makes any difference. If it’s still not working check the actual plug itself, it could be fused, or have a loose wire and this is pretty easy to remedy, take care though because fuses don’t usually blow for no reason.

Next check the cable itself, look for any rips or breaks in the cord, check the entire length of the cord. If you find any damage you’ll need to change the cable. This a relatively easy job but if you’re not confident you can consult an expert.

After that, if you still have no joy, check the cable connection to the actual pressure washer. There are a few more things that can be causing the problems and we’ll look at them in a bit. Let’s look at power issues with petrol pressure washers first.

Make Sure The Ignition Is Switched On

If you try to start the engine without turning on the ignition switch there will be no power to provide the spark that’s needed for ignition.

Consult Your Manual

Before going any further, and getting the toolbox out, check the manufacturer’s handbook that came with your pressure washer. Each machine is different, and some have certain niggles that only the maker will know. Have a look in the manual for the trouble-shooting section, this will give you the most obvious problems and solutions.

It’s best to try these first as from here on in it gets a bit more technical. If you don’t feel confident to take your pressure washer to pieces consult the manufacturer or if it’s out of warranty, take it to a specialist. If however, you are mechanically minded, here goes.

Check The Recoil Starter

The only bit of this that you’ve probably seen is the starter rope. To start the washer’s engine you pull the rope, which spins the starter system allowing the engine to turn at a high enough speed to generate a spark and ignite the petrol to start the engine. The rope then recoils onto the pulley for use next time.

If the rope is frayed or has become disconnected from the pulley, the crankshaft will not turn, causing the engine to not start. Often the problem is you’re not exerting enough power on the rope. It needs quite a hard pull to spin the crankshaft and begin the engine combustion.

Check The Fuel Tank

pressure washer machine

Make sure there’s fuel in the tank and make sure it’s the correct mixture for your machine. Using the wrong mixture will cause the washer to not start and it could damage the working parts too. Next check the fuel pump, if it’s leaking then fuel won’t get to the carburettor in the right quantity to start the motor.

So you’ll need to repair or replace the fuel pump if it’s damaged or just leaking.

Clean The Air Filter

As with all engines, pressure washer engine air filters keep any dirt or foreign bodies out so the engine doesn’t get clogged up. If the filter is too dirty, it prevents enough air from mixing with the fuel and this could stop the pressure washer starting. If the filter is clogged it’s easy to clean it, just take it out, wash it under the tap, but if it’s too dirty, it’ll need replacing.

No Spark

Spark plugs provide the spark that causes the explosion which when mixed with the fuel makes the engine work. Over time spark plugs wear or get damaged. The first thing to check is the china insulating casing if this is cracked or damaged you’ll need to replace the plug. 

Spark plugs also get a lot of black, sooty deposits on the electrode, this is carbon and it can prevent the plug from sparking. Sometimes the electrode burns away or gets damaged, it’ll need to be replaced to get the engine firing again.

If it’s not the spark plug, it could be the coil. The coil sends electricity to the spark plug, and if it’s not working properly it can cause the engine to not start. If it’s not electrical it’s time to look elsewhere.

Check The Carburettor

If you’ve not used the pressure washer for some time any petrol left inside could have evaporated leaving behind a sticky residue that could clog the jets in the carburettor and prevent it from starting. You can buy a flushing agent to clean the carb’ out if it’s not that causing the problem you might need to replace the carb.

Check The Flywheel Key

This is a small piece of metal which fits in the crankshaft and engages the flywheel. It is designed to break to prevent damage to the engine in the event of the pressure washer hitting something hard. Remove the flywheel and have a look at the flywheel key, if it’s broke it needs replacing.

Check The Fuel Filler Cap

As the fuel is used from the petrol tank the tank fills the gap with air that enters through vents in the fuel filler cap. If these are blocked or clogged the engine will not start. To check if this is the problem try starting the engine with the filler cap removed, if it starts, clean or if necessary replace the filler cap.

Air in the water pump

This is the easiest thing to fix and should probably be tried before any of the other checks especially on the petrol washers. If there’s air in the water pump and/or the hose, it can prevent the pump from working and it could cause the engine to not fire up as well. To fix it just keep on trying to get water through the pump, once the water starts to clear all the air out the pump and starts running freely, the engine should start.

Clearing Air From The Water Pump

This can be done in 4 simple steps:

  1. Connect the hose – Make sure the hose is connected to the water supply and the pressure washer properly. Turn on the tap at the supply.
  2. Use wand attachment – Connect the high-pressure hose and attach the wand.
  3. Pull the trigger – By pulling the trigger on the wand you will allow any trapped air to escape.
  4. Keep pressing the trigger – with the water running, and start the engine.

Check The Water Supply

Check that the hose is connected to the tap and the tap is turned on. Check the hose for any twists or leaks. It could be a lack of water that’s preventing the power washer from starting.

Replace Your Pressure Washer

If you have not been able to get your pressure washer going after all this, or your expert has declared it dead, it’s time to buy a new pressure washer. If you’re not sure on the type of model you want, what features it has etc, hop on over to our best pressure washer buyers guide for all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

After using your pressure washer, keep the engine running, turn off the water and disconnect the hose. Press the trigger to release the pressure. Remove the wand attachment and high-pressure hose and make sure you drain all the water out of the pressure washer before storing it away.

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