October 19


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Why Does My Pressure Washer Surge?

pressure washer surge


Pressure washer surging? Read on for all the info. 

A good pressure washer is a true asset when you have a lot of cleaning jobs to do around the house, but in order for it to be efficient, you have to know how to operate it and what to do in case of any problems. If you’ve ever asked yourself, why does my pressure washer surge, just know that there are numerous reasons why your washer does this, and most of them are easy to fix.

If you’re using your pressure washer and it begins to pulsate or surge, there is most certainly a reason for this and this article will help you determine what those reasons are.

Just the Basics

When your pressure washer starts to surge, you’ll experience bursts of very strong pressure that are followed by stretches where there is hardly any pressure at all. This pulsating action can be very frustrating for the user because let’s face it, a constant flow of pressure is the only thing that will get rid of dirt, grime, and debris from the items you’re trying to clean.

After all, this pressure is what enables the washer to work the way that it’s supposed to, so if it doesn't work that way, your pressure washer can be useless. Fortunately, most of the issues that cause this pulsating to happen are easy to fix. You just have to know what to look for and the rest should be easy. More often than not, surging problems with pressure washers are caused by one of the following four problem areas.

1. There Are Blockages, Kinks, and Other Minor Problem

Any time that the flow of water is restricted in your pressure washer, you are going to have high and low pressure in that washer. When this is happening, the first thing you should do is check for any leaks, kinks, or any other problems related to the hose that attaches to the unit. Fortunately, this is easy to fix if it is the problem.

Other minor problems can include:

  • A dirty inlet or discharge valve. Clean out the small divots inside of these valves every now and then so that they remain clear and free of things such as dirt and even hard water.
  • A buildup of detergent or soap. If you find a lot of detergent or soap in the pressure washer, go ahead and run some distilled vinegar through it so that stuck-on dirt and debris are removed.

If you want to keep your discharge valves or inlets clean, you should clean them thoroughly every five times that you use the pressure washer, more often if the pressure-washing jobs have been extra long or difficult.

pressure washer surge nozzle

2. The Nozzle Becomes Plugged

Eventually, all nozzles will become plugged up, which means that regular cleaning of the nozzles is imperative. This is easy to do because all you have to do is disconnect the spray wand, use some type of thin wire to push out any clog that you see, then flush the nozzle out with water to make sure all of the debris is removed. Over time, a certain amount of debris is certain to build up inside your nozzles, which is why regular cleaning of them is so important.

Keep in mind that the more you use your pressure washer, the more worn out it gets, and a worn-out pressure washer is always prone to all sorts of problems, including getting plugged up with debris. The debris can become caked on and even dirty water can damage the washer. Detergents and soaps are also a problem because many of these will cause some type of corrosion inside of the nozzle if the nozzles aren’t cleaned out thoroughly once in a while.

You might also  like our article about how to clean vinyl siding.

3. The Trigger Isn’t Working Properly

As you can imagine, having a trigger that doesn’t work on your pressure washer is very frustrating. Fortunately, problems with the trigger won’t shut the unit down because they are normally associated with an underlying problem.

pressure washer surge clogged

For one thing, if your oil needs changing or it is simply too low, this can make the trigger work improperly. This is why in some ways, you have to treat your pressure washer as you do your car, meaning that you should constantly be checking the amount of oil and the condition of the oil to make sure that everything is working as it should be.

A second problem is that pressure washers, especially electric ones, can overheat, which can cause problems with the trigger. For this reason and others, you should let the unit rest for a good 30 minutes before starting it again when there is a problem with the trigger. Last, check your unloader valve. This valve can become clogged and therefore diminish the performance of the unit, so cleaning it out or replacing it is the best thing to do in these circumstances.

4. There Are Problems with the Pump

So, we’ve saved the “best” for last. The pump is a very important part of your pressure washer, but the good news is that you can often repair it instead of buying a brand-new one. The first thing you can try is turning off the pressure washer and disconnecting the hose.

Leave the garden hose attached and let the water run through the connecting hose for 20 to 30 seconds. Afterward, turn off the garden hose and reassemble everything. If air gets trapped in the pump, this is a good solution and should take care of the problem.

pressure washer pump problem

Common-sense measures should also be taken. Make sure that your garden hose is on full force so that enough water gets into the pump. Check all of the valves and other parts to make sure that they don’t need to be cleaned or replaced. And as always, consult your user manual to make sure you’re going by the directions so that nothing important is overlooked.

Each pressure washer is different, so it’s important that you follow all of the instructions to the letter so that you don’t cause even more damage to occur. Having a pressure washer that surges or pulsates is never any fun, but with the exception of needing a pump replaced, most of the problems causing this can be easily identified and even more easily taken care of.

Final Words

In short, as you use it more and more, components are likely to wear down which can cause fluid to leak out instead of being pushed through the pump. Try these tips we've recommended and you should be back in business in no time. 

Check out our article about foam cannons.

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