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Home & garden.

Updated: 11 Mar 2022

How to avoid pressure washer problems

Keep your pressure washer working well with our tips about how to avoid common problems, including leaking
Ceri Thomas
Using a pressure washer to clean a patio

Pressure washers are very useful for cleaning cars and washing patios and decking. 

The most powerful models cost hundreds of pounds so to avoid your pressure washer breaking, take a look at how to avoid issues, such as leaking and pump failure.

If you can't fix your pressure washer you might need a new one. Take a look at pressure washer reviews to compare all the models we've tested.

Or see our top picks of the best pressure washers, chosen by our experts.

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1. Water leaks from within the pressure washer

Likely cause

This most common fault frequently appears after a pressure washer has been left idle over the winter and is often caused by water in the pressure washer freezing, expanding and splitting plastic components.  

An old and worn-out pump can also be the cause.  

How to avoid 

Drain your pressure washer before you store it for the winter – check the manufacturer’s instructions for how to do this. Do not allow your pressure washer to freeze by storing it in a frost-free place - garages and sheds often aren't frost-free so you may need to store it in the house. 

It is possible to buy replacement parts for the plastic components and pumps of some pressure washers – check the manufacturer’s website for further details.

2. Pressure-washer lance fails

Likely cause

If there’s no water coming out of the lance it might be that the nozzle is blocked. If the lance itself is leaking this is probably due to splits in the plastic or failures of the seals caused by wear and tear.  

How to avoid

Always check that your lance and nozzles are assembled properly before turning on the trigger to avoid straining the seals between them.

Avoid dropping your lance on the floor while you are using it and always check that the nozzles are free of debris. You could use a pin to gently remove any debris you find. If your pressure washer has storage slots for the lance and nozzles, use these when you are cleaning instead of propping the lance on the floor where it could pick up dirt.

3. Pressure washer loses pressure  

Likely cause 

There can be a number of problems that cause this symptom, such as a blocked nozzle or water inlet, inadequate water supply, air in the inlet water supply hose or the pump. 

How to avoid

If the pressure is pulsing it’s worth checking that the water supply is fully turned on and that the hose supplying the pressure washer is not squeezed or kinked first. Then clean the water filter. To get rid of air run the pressure washer with an open spray handle and nozzle at low pressure until regular working pressure resumes. 

If the pressure is steady but low it can indicate a worn stop/start valve – squeeze the trigger five times in quick succession to get it working again. Otherwise it might be a worn nozzle, which should be replaced. 

4. Seals failure on a pressure washer

Likely cause

Again, this is commonly caused by frozen water damage or wear and tear.  

How to avoid

Always drain your pressure washer after using so no water is left in the pipes and avoid storing your pressure washer where it can freeze. Garages and sheds are often not safe from frost so you may need to store your pressure washer in the house for winter.

Seals can be replaced in some cases, so check with the manufacturer.

5. Pressure washer pump fails 

Likely cause 

Frozen and cracked pump components are the chief suspect here, but another culprit could be running the pump without the water flowing, or ignoring other problems that cause the pressure washer to run incorrectly.

How to avoid 

Store the pressure washer in a frost-free place, such as a cupboard in the house, and make sure that the water is turned on and at adequate pressure before running the pump. Takes steps to remedy a pulsing pressure washer.   

If you need to replace your pressure washer, take a look at our guide to how to buy the best pressure washer.