pressure washer troubleshooting

Experiencing low water pressure and not sure why? Or, maybe your pressure washer isn’t starting whatsoever. Perhaps you’re experiencing a separate issue with your unit entirely. Whatever problem you’re up against, you can rest assured in you’re in the right place. Hotsy is here to help with our complete guide to pressure washer troubleshooting!

Our commercial pressure washer in San Antonio isn’t just the #1 choice for all your pressure washing equipment and supplies. It’s also the place you can turn to for all your questions regarding pressure washing. We’re here to help you make the most of your unit – and if something is wrong and you’re not in equipped to fix it yourself, just schedule an appointment with us for pressure washer service & repair.

Below, you’ll discover some of the most common issues with commercial pressure washers and tips for fixing the problem. First, let’s talk about what exactly pressure washer troubleshooting is.

What is Pressure Washer Troubleshooting Exactly?

Troubleshooting a pressure washer refers to the process of identifying and resolving problems or issues with the machine. This can include things like low pressure, loss of power, leaks, and other operational issues. The goal of pressure washer troubleshooting is to diagnose the problem and find a solution to fix it, so the pressure washer can function properly.

Thus, troubleshooting a pressure washer will look different depending on the issue you’re experiencing. As you can imagine, this can get quite complex – which is why it’s usually something that’s best left to the professionals here at Hotsy. If you got your pressure washer rental through us, and something isn’t quite right, don’t sweat it – just give us a call and we’ll bring you a replacement unit!

However, if you own your machine and want to try and give it a go yourself before entrusting the job with us, keep reading below – we’ll talk about troubleshooting some of the most common issues operators experience with their machines. 

Pressure Washer Troubleshooting: Explaining the Most Common Problems With Pressure Washers

Ready to learn about power washer troubleshooting? We’ll start with the most common problems to try and help you resolve the issue fast and get back to cleaning efficiently and effectively. Let’s start with low pressure.

Low Pressure: Causes & Fixes

This is typically the most common problem with pressure washers. The entire point of using a pressure washer is to quickly and easily blast away tough muck and messes from a surface – whether you’re pressure washing a parking garage, pressure washing buildings, or even operating a car wash with pressure washers. But when your unit loses pressure, your machine becomes next to useless. 

Low pressure can be caused by a number of things. These include a clogged nozzle, a blocked inlet water filter, or a malfunctioning pump. It could even be the water supply itself – not the pressure washer. When troubleshooting pressure washers, the best approach is to check the easiest solution first and rule it out before proceeding to more intensive repairs. 

Weak Water Supply, Hose Problems, and Clogged Nozzles

So start by examining the water source itself. If you’ve got good pressure there, determine if the issue is with the hoses taking the water from your supply to your unit. Kinks or leaks can cut the pressure dramatically. Once you’ve ruled out issues with your hoses, it’s time to check the nozzle for clogs. Remove it from the wand and clear any debris that may be blocking the opening. 

Next, Check the Inlet Water Filter

If the nozzle is not clogged, it could be a blocked inlet water filter giving you trouble. The inlet water filter is responsible for removing debris and particles from the water before it enters the pump. If it becomes clogged, it can reduce the amount of water that is flowing into the pump, which can cause low pressure. These filters need to be replaced every so often, and if you suspect the filter could be the cause of your low-pressure woes, it’s a good idea to swap it out.

If You Still Have Issues, it Could Be the Pump

Now – if you’re still experiencing low pressure, it’s likely your pump – where pressure is generated – is malfunctioning. if the pump’s seals are worn, or there’s a lack of oil, it can cause low pressure. 

To check if the pump is the cause of the problem, you can inspect it for any leaks or damage, and check the oil level. We have an article on what pressure washer oil to use. Because this step involves taking the pressure washer apart to some degree, it may be best to leverage professional help unless you feel up to the task.

Water Leaks: Causes and Fixes

Water leaks don’t just result in wasted water. They can make a mess and contribute to lower PSI. They can be caused by worn or damaged seals/connections. Or, the hose itself could be damaged. 

Of course, water leaks can also be caused by incorrect assembly or usage. So always consult the manual and make sure that the pressure washer is assembled and used correctly. Once you’ve ruled that possibility out, read through troubleshooting a pressure washer with a leak below – starting with assessing the hoses.

Puncture or Tear in the Hose

If you can visibly see the source of the leak in your hose, it’s pretty obvious what the cause and solution are. You’ll just need to replace the hose. Hoses need to be replaced every so often as they wear down with age. To prevent this in the future, try and keep your hoses up off the ground and avoid kinking them or driving over them with equipment – especially while they’re being used.

Worn or Damaged Seals/Connections

If you just see water spraying from the machine itself – not necessarily a hose – it can be harder to pinpoint the exact source of your problem. It’s likely the issue is worn or damaged seals/connections. 

These are responsible for keeping water from leaking out of the hose, gun, or pump. If they become damaged or worn, they can allow water to leak out, reducing the overall pressure and efficiency of the machine. Look for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or breaks. If you find a damaged seal or connection, it will need to be replaced in order to stop the leak.

It’s also important to check the gun and wand for leaks, if the gun and wand are not tight or if the O-ring is damaged it can cause water leaks.

If you are unable to find the source of the leak, or if the problem persists after replacing the seals or connections, it may be necessary to take the pressure washer to a professional for further diagnosis and repair. 

Loss of Power or Inability to Start the Unit: Causes and Fixes

What if you’re unable to get the unit to start up? Or, if the unit shuts down unexpectedly during use? This could be caused by something as simple as a faulty outlet or insufficient fuel. We’ll assume you’ve ruled out these possibilities. If so, it could be something more complex like a clogged air filter, worn spark plug, or something else.

Power-related problems are less common when you purchase the best commercial pressure washer possible – like the ones we offer at Hotsy. Even still, you could run into this issue – and rather than call it a day and sacrifice productivity, you can check to see if it’s one of the issues below.

Assess the Air Filter

One of the most common causes of power issues is a clogged air filter. The air filter is responsible for removing debris and dust from the air before it enters the engine, and if it becomes clogged, it can restrict the airflow and cause the engine to lose power or not start at all.

To check if the air filter is the cause of the problem, remove the air filter and inspect it for any signs of debris or clogging. If the air filter is dirty, clean it or replace it.

Check & Replace the Spark Plug

Another possible cause of power issues is a malfunctioning spark plug. The spark plug is responsible for providing the spark that starts the engine, and if it is fouled or damaged, it can prevent the engine from starting or cause it to lose power. 

To check if the spark plug is the cause of the problem, remove it and inspect it for any signs of wear or damage. If the spark plug is fouled or damaged, it will need to be replaced. 

These need to be replaced routinely, and even if your spark plug looks to be fine – it may be worth replacing if you’ve done the work to remove it already. 

Whether you have a gas vs electric pressure washer, any power-related problems are worth getting professional help with. Bring it by a Hotsy location near you if you’re unable to rectify the situation yourself. 

Soap Won’t Dispense: Causes and Fixes

This issue is so common we actually wrote a complete guide on why your pressure washer soap dispenser doesn’t work. And this is a problem that you can’t afford to allow to persist – because adding soap to pressure washers supercharges their cleaning capabilities. 

There are a few likely culprits – it could be a clogged nozzle, similar to the issue of low pressure. Or, the detergent tank itself could be clogged. Maybe you chose the wrong nozzle for use with soap. We’ll assume you checked the detergent tank and ruled out low soap levels already. If so, let’s consider the most likely culprit: clogs in the unit.

Clogged Nozzle or Detergent Tank

First, rule out the possibility your nozzle is clogged just as you would for low pressure. Next, assure the issue isn’t in the detergent tank itself. 

This can happen when you leave the soap in your tank while storing it – the suds can form a scum that clogs the emitter. If this is the issue, use a chemical cleaning agent to restore the tank to its original state. 

Or, maybe you used the wrong kind of soap in your tank. We have an article on what soap to use in a pressure washer if you’d like to learn more. But really, just avoid using homemade pressure washer soap – stick with the best pressure washing soap at Hotsy instead. 

Wrong Nozzle for Soap

There is a ton of different pressure washer nozzles out there – each having its place in your arsenal. But it’s important to choose the soap nozzle for a pressure washer in particular. Otherwise, the soap won’t come out properly. And, you can end up damaging your unit. Typically, you’ll want to use the black nozzle as it has the largest orifice. 

Vibration Noises: Causes & Fixes

Picture this – your machine is working just fine, helping you blast through cleaning jobs like it’s nothing. But, you hear strange, vibrating noises coming from the unit itself. Should you just ignore the sound and continue cleaning? Definitely not!

This suggests there are loose components somewhere within the machine. If left unaddressed, this issue could result in more serious consequences – and more costly repairs. Here’s what you need to do:

Try to Pinpoint the Source of the Noise & Check Parts

During operation, the pressure washer’s various parts are subjected to a lot of stress and movement, and over time, they can become loose or worn. This can cause the pressure washer to vibrate excessively, making it difficult to use and potentially damaging to the machine.

To troubleshoot vibration, start by trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. From there, you can begin inspecting all of the parts of the pressure washer, including the frame, wheels, handle, and hose connections. Look for any loose or worn parts and tighten or replace them as necessary.

There are two specific components of pressure washers that are notorious for vibrating. These are the drive shaft or pumps. Check either of these and rule them out. If you find they are the culprit, it’s best to service a pressure washer with the pros at Hotsy. We’ll take care of it for you.

Other Potential Causes

If it doesn’t appear that the issue is fixed through our advice above, the source of noise could be something like a blocked water intake – or not enough oil in the pump or engine. So, check these as well and rule them out before scheduling your maintenance visit.

The Pressure Washer isn’t Cleaning Right: Causes and Fixes

Maybe you’re just going about your day cleaning and notice you’re not getting the results you’d hoped for. Your pressure washer isn’t blasting through the tough messes you’re up against. Is it something wrong with the pressure washer? Or, is it an operator error? We’ll help you assess either of these possibilities below:

Ruling Out the Pressure Washer

It’s no secret that not all pressure washers are created equal. Some are more effective than others. That’s why those who demand nothing but the best stick with Hotsy. After all, nothing cleans like a Hotsy! So – make sure you’re using a commercial hot water pressure washer that’s up to the task. 

But really, issues with your pressure washer not cleaning a surface well can be attributed to inadequate PSI or GPM most of the time. So – what pressure PSI do I need? It varies from job to job. You wouldn’t want to use excess pressure on a surface that can be damaged – like a vehicle’s paint or a glass window. 

That’s why it’s so important to get professional help in choosing a pressure washer. We can assess your unique needs and offer a recommendation accordingly. With that said, you’ll want a minimum of 1,500 PSI – but your needs could be as high as 3,500+. In terms of pressure washer GPM, you need at least four gallons per minute to remain efficient with ample water flow.

From there, make sure you’re using the right nozzle and hoses. Every job is different, which is why you need an arsenal of choices on standby. You can consider supercharging your unit with the best pressure washing attachments, too.

It Could be User-Error

Pressure washing isn’t all that complicated. However, we do have an article offering more advanced pressure washing tips to unlock the most effective, efficient cleaning process possible. If you haven’t read it yet we encourage you to do so. With that said, here are a few things you could be doing wrong:

  • Holding the wand too far away from the surface being cleaned
  • Not using the right sweeping motion (from top to bottom)
  • Not using the right soap for the job
  • Not allowing the soap to suds up and agitate the surface
  • Leaving the soap on too long and creating a film on the surface

Final Thoughts on Pressure Washer Troubleshooting

Our complete guide on pressure washer troubleshooting should have pointed you in the right direction as to what could be holding you back from your cleaning goals. We hope you feel more confident in troubleshooting your pressure washer now and getting back up and running quickly. If you still have questions or want the experts at Hotsy to provide a recommendation on what your issue could be, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to help with all your maintenance and repair needs. Whether you’re a business owner with constant cleaning needs or you’re considering starting a pressure washing business – don’t hesitate to reach out!