How to fix your gas pressure washer keeps shutting off.
If you’re having trouble with your gas powered pressure washer shutting off when you’re working with it, don’t panic because in most cases, it’s an easy fix. Of course it’s incredibly frustrating but usually it can be resolved using ordinary tools that you probably already have around the house.
Often, this problem is due to an obstruction of either the fuel or air filter, and this can be taken care of quickly and easily. Cleaning or replacing the filter is all you need to take care of the problem, but let’s take a look at each potential problem and solution in more detail.
First Check These Things When Your Gas Pressure Washer Keeps Shutting Off
Before we get to some more meaty solutions, lets run a quick checklist of the obvious stuff to make sure you’re not missing a super easy fix. Check that:
- You have enough gas
- All hose connections are correct
- You have sufficient oil
- Turn everything off, leave for 10 mins, turn back on
1. Carburetor Problems (Gas Pressure Washers)
When your pressure washer is shutting off regularly as you work, the first thing you should check is the carburetor. In a lot of cases, fuel left inside of the tank causes part of that fuel to evaporate.
This, in turn, can result in a thick sticky substance that will clog the carburetor if you’re not careful. Think about where you usually store the washer; you might realize that it’s been in storage for a while and this can cause that sticky residue in your carburetor to develop.
What should you do if you want to check the carburetor? First of all, take a picture of how the carburetor is set up. You’ll be removing certain components from the washer, and the photo will help you determine where they all go when you’re finished. Next, turn off your fuel valve, then disconnect the fuel line.
Remove your spark plug cap, the throttle cover, and the intake so you can get to the carburetor. Once these are removed, you can disconnect the gas line, which is found between the fuel tank and the carburetor.
Next, empty out all of the old fuel that’s in the carburetor, then remove the carburetor. You can do this by removing the bolts that connect the carburetor to the engine. Disconnect the throttle cable and discard any gas inside of the carburetor.
Take a good look at the carburetor and determine if it’s rusted or not. If it’s rusted, it’s likely you’ll have to replace it altogether. If it’s merely dirty, you can usually clean it by first taking it apart.
To take apart the carburetor, look for the pin that connects the float to the metal body and remove it. Then pull out the needle valve. At that point, you’ll be ready to clean the carburetor, which you can do with something such as Gumout Jet Spray or WD-40 Specialist, both of which are excellent.
For the best results, make sure that you spray it on every metal part that you see in the carburetor, then wipe everything dry thoroughly.
The next thing you’ll want to do is check for any obstructions that might be in the idle and main jets. If there are, you can use a small wire brush to clean them out. Then take your cleaned parts and rinse them with water, drying them afterward with compressed air.
You can also go ahead and clean the other components with soap and water and check for defective gaskets in case they need to be replaced as well.
Once these steps are complete, put back the following items:
- Needle valve
- Carb bowl
Once these items are in their proper place, simply reconnect the carburetor to the engine and make sure that every component is back in its original location. Most often, this cleaning will be enough to stop the problem of your pressure washer shutting off.
But if it isn’t, you can buy a kit that has carburetor parts in it and replace only those parts that need to be replaced.
The kits are reasonably priced and might prevent you from having to replace the entire carburetor.
Of course, the best way to make sure that your carburetor isn’t having problems is to stop it from getting clogged up in the first place. How? Two simple rules can help.
- Always use fresh fuel only and don’t let the fuel get too old
- Use a fuel stabilizer
First, always use fresh fuel only and don’t let the fuel get too old. Second, use some type of fuel stabilizer on a regular basis, which helps keep your fuel fresher a lot longer. These two solutions are a great start if you want your carburetor to stay gunk-free month after month.
2. Clogs in the Fuel Cap and Fuel Filter
Just as with your carburetor, your fuel cap and fuel filter can get clogged. When the fuel cap vent gets clogged, no air can enter the tank and it will result in vapor lock, which stops the fuel from flowing where it needs to go.
To determine if this is the problem, simply loosen the fuel cap, then start your pressure washer. If it starts to run without any problems, you don’t need to replace the cap. Otherwise, you may have to replace it because this usually means that the fuel filter is clogged and can’t work properly.
When a fuel filter is clogged, the gas can’t get into the carburetor to work right. Fuel can also get sticky and clog up the filter when you leave gas in the tank for too long. If you’ve determined that you need the fuel filter replaced, follow these simple steps:
- Make sure that the fuel valve at the base of the fuel tank is shut off; if you cannot see a fuel valve, you can simply place a clamp over the fuel line instead
- If there is a filter in the fuel line, remove the metal clips that attach the filters, then slide them out of the fuel line
If something is wrong with either the fuel cap or the fuel filter, it’s possible that you may have to replace one or both of them in order to get the pressure washer working correctly again. Both of these tasks are fairly simple and can be done with just a few basic tools that you probably already have in your home.
3. The Spark Arrestor is Dirty
All pressure washers have spark arrestors inside of them, and these washers’ main job is to stop the engine of the washer from emitting sparks, which can be dangerous (to say the least). The thing is that soot can build up inside of the washer over time and clog up your spark arrestor.
To clean it, you can use a simple wire brush to remove the soot and gunk. Spark arrestors are small screen installations that work around the clock to prevent sparks; because of this, soot can build up rather quickly.
Once you remove the spark arrestor, it’s very easy to clean with your wire brush and you don’t need any soap or cleaning detergent to do the cleaning.
Simply take the wire brush and dig into the cracks and crevices to remove as much soot as possible, which is sometimes quite a lot. If this doesn’t work, or if you notice that the spark arrestor is rusted or in bad shape, it’s likely that it needs to be replaced.
4. Check the Air Filter
Just as in your car, the air filter in your pressure washer needs to be clean and free of dirt, dust, and debris in order for both the engine and the carburetor to work as they should.
The dirtier an air filter is, the more likely it is that the dirt and debris will get into the carburetor and the engine, which in turn restricts the air that comes into the carburetor and causes the engine to stall.
By replacing your air filters regularly, you can actually prolong the life of your pressure washer because it will stay cleaner and clearer much longer.
As a general rule, replacing your air filter once a year is highly recommended. Even if the air filter doesn’t look dirty after a year, it should still be replaced. You can also replace the filter more often than that if you notice it getting exceptionally dirty.
The cleaner the air filter, the less dirt and debris will get into your carburetor and engine, enabling the pressure washer to run more efficiently and prolonging its lifespan.
Remember that if an air filter is consistently dirty, it’s natural for the pressure washer to shut down because the carburetor and engine won’t be getting enough air.
To replace your air filter, simply follow these steps:
- Remove the cover of the air filter, then pull out the foam filters you see
- Take the filters and wash them with some type of solvent with a high flash point, such as mineral spirits or paint thinner
- Never tear or twist the air filter
- When you go to dry the filter, just squeeze it gently
- If you’re replacing the filter, soak it in clean water first, then in engine oil before putting it back
- After the new or cleaned air filter is put back in, close the cover
Replacing the air filter of your pressure washer is much easier than you think. The filter is easy to recognize once the cover is removed, and putting it back in the proper place is a piece of cake.
5. Check Your Pressure Gun
When your pressure washer keeps shutting off and you’ve tried the techniques mentioned above, think about the condition of your pressure gun. While these guns tend to last as long as the pressure washer itself does, this is not always the case.
Pressure guns have different components just as the engine and carburetor do, and those components can go bad occasionally. The thing is that pressure guns tend to be more costly and more complicated to repair than to replace.
So if you believe that your pressure gun is to blame for your pressure washer shutting off all the time, you might want to just replace it.
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What Else Might Be the Problem?
Other than these things, you can also check for the following when your pressure washer is always shutting off while you’re trying to use it:
- The unloader valve, specifically the spring, shaft, piston, or O-ring
- The wand screens, which may need to be replaced
- The spark plug, which might be disconnected or need cleaning
- The air pressure, which might need to be adjusted
- The choke position, which may need to be turned off if you have a smoking engine
The truth is that there are numerous things that happen that can cause your gas pressure washer to shut off continuously. It’s frustrating for sure, but once you become more familiar with the different parts that make up the pressure washer, it becomes a little easier to determine where the problem lies.
If you’ve purchased a cheap pressure washer and more than one thing is wrong with it, it might be easier to get a new one.
The bad news is that your pressure washer is bound to shut off occasionally without you knowing why. The good news is that more often than not, the problem can be fixed with a little knowledge and a regular, household toolbox.
Air and oil filters need to be checked regularly to make sure that they are still clean and free of debris, as well as replaced a minimum of once a year. Regular maintenance, in other words, can keep the pressure washer in great condition, which will drastically reduce the likelihood of you running into problems.
If all else fails, you can always check with experts at a home-improvement store, the store where you purchased the pressure washer or Youtube for some instructional repair videos.
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