Can You Run A Pressure Washer Without Water?

For a pressure washer to work, you need to connect it to a water source. That part is obvious enough. But can you start a pressure washer without turning on the water first? Or, in other words, can you run a pressure washer without water?

This might seem like foolish idea – if you’ve run pressure washers yourself, you realize the obvious answer is no. But when you think about it, anyone could make the honest mistake of starting a pressure washer without water – especially if they’re new to operating these machines. And even seasoned pressure washers can forget to connect to a water source before starting the machine. Nevertheless, making this mistake can be disastrous.

Let’s find out why:

Can You Run A Pressure Washer Without Water?

It is possible to turn on a pressure washer without water, yes. But that doesn’t mean you should. In fact, the results could be catastrophic – here’s why:

It Can Harm The Unit

A pressure washer requires water to cool and lubricate the pump, which is the part responsible for pushing water from the supply hose to the nozzle. Without water to cool and lubricate it, the pump will work harder than it should, causing it to wear down quickly. This can happen even with just a few seconds of running the pressure washer without the water being turned on.

However, the pump is not the only part that takes damage. If you start your pressure washer dry, its other inner components will also wear down. The motor, in particular, will overheat as it tries to turn the pump, which is under a lot of friction. When the motor overheats, it can lock up or even break down entirely. The seals, gaskets, and other components can also be compromised because of these issues.

The damage may not always be instantaneous, but the more you start your pressure washer without water, the more you risk ruining your machine. Take note that if either the pump or the motor fails, you won’t be able to use your pressure washer. Plus, it is also likely that you will need to replace the seals and gaskets as well. In this case, it may be cheaper to buy a new pressure washer than to repair or replace the broken parts.

Either way, it’s a waste of money, and you risk ruining a perfectly good machine.

You Won’t Be Able To Clean Anything!

Obviously, you won’t be able to use your pressure washer without the water supply turned on. You will realize this soon enough while you’re trying to clean a surface and there is no water coming out. And if your pressure washer breaks down because of improper starting, you will need to repair or replace it before you can start your cleaning job. 

What If You Don’t Have A Water Source Nearby?

Something that can make a cleaning job extra difficult is the lack of a nearby water source. For example: when you are trying to clean your storefront but the nearest outside tap is too far away. Or perhaps when you get a cleaning assignment that is in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t have a water source nearby, here are your options:

Use A Tank Or Water Barrel

You can attach a tank or a rain barrel to your pressure washer if there is no nearby water source. These vessels typically have an outlet that connects to a water hose, which you can attach to your pressure washer. The biggest problem with using a tank or barrel, however, is that you may not have enough water for more than half an hour of cleaning.

To illustrate, running a pressure washer for 10 minutes at 100 psi will use just under 70 liters of water. If your tank can hold up to 250 liters of water, you will only have around 35 minutes of pressurized water. However, take note that 100 psi is very weak. If you’re trying to clean a deep stain, for example, you need 1500 psi. That said, running your pressure washer at a very high psi can drain your water reserve very quickly.

To determine how much water you need in your tank or barrel, check how much pressure washer psi you need for whatever it is you’re trying to clean.

When you’re using a rain barrel, there is also the issue of particulate matter from the rain. If these contaminants end up in your pressure washer, they could end up damaging your unit. So, you will have to prevent this by using a water filter.

All things considered, using a tank or water barrel is a good idea if you only need a few minutes of pressurized water and you have no other water source nearby. However, if the job calls for a lot of water and a lot of pressure, your best bet is to use a pressure washer trailer.

Use A Pressure Washer Trailer

A commercial pressure washer trailer has an onboard water source that typically has a huge capacity–enough for tougher cleaning jobs. The pressure washer and tank sit next to each other, allowing the water to flow directly into the unit. This type of pressure washer is extremely practical for cleaning jobs that require high amounts of pressure and, consequently, a lot of water.

If you need hot water for cleaning, there are also pressure washer trailers that come with a fuel supply alongside the water supply. “What is a hot water pressure washer used for?” you may ask? Well, the answer is just about anything, especially those tough stains that cold water can’t get rid of.

What if you need more than one operator working at the same time? Don’t worry, there are also pressure washer trailers that feature dual wands and even bigger tanks to allow for longer cleaning time.

Use Water From a Body of Water

It is also possible to draw water from a lake or pond by using a submersible water pump and a hosepipe. First, you must install the submersible pump in the lake; this will suck up the water from the lake and into the hosepipe. The second thing you need to install is a water filter; you cannot use lake water directly as the sediments can ruin your pressure washer.

Then, run one hosepipe from the pump to the water filter, then another hosepipe from the filter to your pressure washer. Once all of these things are connected, you can start using your pressure washer as normal.

From the three options, it’s easy to see which one is the easiest and most convenient–commercial pressure washer trailers!

Can You Run A Pressure Washer Without Water – Wrapping Up

Running a pressure washer without water can cause irreparable damage, sometimes instantly, sometimes gradually over time. Either way, you are better off not risking rendering your machine unusable. Even the best commercial pressure washers can take damage if you don’t start them properly, so always be mindful not to make this mistake!

However, if you want a commercial pressure washer that won’t break down instantaneously if you accidentally start it without water, look no further than the most reliable, most durable, and highest-quality pressure washers from Hotsy!