Tips for Troubleshooting a Sluggish or Non-responsive Pressure Washer

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Pressure washers rely on a small engine to power the system. Sometimes, those small engines are vulnerable to malfunctions and damage due to contaminants in gasoline. In addition, the carburetor can clog easily leading to more operational problems. Since stale fuel is a common source of these problems, that's the first thing you should consider if your pressure washer has been sitting a while and won't start. Here are some tips to help you deal with that.

What to Check First

Before you disconnect the fuel line to clean out the stale fuel, there are a few things that you should do. Check the power switch on the pressure washer to be sure that it is in the "ON" position. Then, check to see if any visible wires are dislodged. If all of the wires appear connected and the switch is on, then make sure that there's still fuel in the tank.

You may also want to make sure that the spark plugs are still good. You can get a spark plug tester from most auto parts stores. They just fit on the plug end and give you a reading of the spark strength once you've pulled the starter cord. Finally, check the oil reservoir. Many pressure washer engines have a safety feature that prevents the engine from starting when the oil level is below the recommended levels.

Insufficient Fuel Flow

If your pressure washer's engine starts when you've sprayed starting fluid in the carburetor then promptly stalls, that's a sign that the engine isn't getting sufficient fuel to the carburetor. Fuel is typically gravity-fed in these engines, so the first thing you should do is disconnect the fuel line from the carburetor's inlet. Have a bucket under the fuel line when you disconnect it, because a clear fuel line will leak fuel when you disconnect it. If no fuel runs out of the line, there's a blockage in that line somewhere. You can either replace the line completely or try to use forced air or a long rod to clear the line.

Stale or Old Fuel

Gasoline can become stale fairly quickly when it's left to sit. Small engines have compact designs and intricate components, making them somewhat more susceptible to damage from stale fuel. The stale fuel can congeal on the inside of the carburetor, a process called varnishing. Once the inside of the carburetor is varnished, it clogs the small fuel feed lines and injection jets. If this is the problem with your pressure washer, the engine won't start at all when you pull the rope. It won't sputter or anything, because there will be no fuel moving at all.

The best way to fix this is to drain the fuel tank, the fuel line and the carburetor bowl. Flush all of them out with fresh, clean water. Leave the components to dry thoroughly before you reassemble and fill it with fresh fuel. If there's varnish inside the carburetor, you'll want to invest in a carburetor cleaner and scrub the inside surfaces to remove it.

Old Carburetor

Whether you're dealing with varnishing inside the carburetor or it just hasn't been cleaned and serviced in a while, a full breakdown and cleanup is a good idea. With so many small parts and delicate components, routine services are important. Start by checking the float bowl. If the fuel in it is clean and free of debris, you shouldn't need to worry. If it's cloudy, thicker than normal or has debris in it, you'll want to call a pressure washer service company to help you break down the carburetor and clean it thoroughly.

For more tips or assistance, contact companies like Ben's Cleaner Sales.