How to use a pressure washer like a pro (first the summary then the detailed instruction):
- Know your pressure washer parts. A pressure washer consists of a pump, motor, piping, unloader valve, relief valve, inlet and outlet hose connections, chemical tank, hose, spray gun, wand, nozzle, enclosure case and a variety of switches, meters and starters.
- Know the safe way to operate it. Be aware of the risks such as: projectiles going into your eye, kickback of the spray gun, slippery surfaces, high temp surfaces on the machine, high speed rotating parts on the machine, toxic fumes if using gas, flammable gases, electrocution risk if using electric machine, high pressure water so don’t point at people or animals and you may need hearing protection.
- Know how to assemble it out of the box. Most pressure washers require some assembly when you remove them from the delivery box. You may have to attach the handle, hose reel, and/or spray gun holder. Follow the included User Manual instructions.
- Know the correct way to operate your pressure washer. Using a gas and electric pressure cleaner is a little different, especially at start-up. A gas machine you need to check the engine oil and fuel tank before connecting the hoses and starting it by pushing/pulling the choke then pulling the recoil starter. An electric machine you just plug it in and press go. Once the power washer is on and the water flowing be sure to start with the nozzle a few feet from the surface to prevent damage. Always start with a wider angle nozzle and switch nozzles if the pressure is not enough.
- Know the correct storage methods. If you plan to store and not use your pressure washer for 30 or more days you need to go through the proper storage method. It includes flushing the machine of all detergent and water and adding pump saver and if gas machine adding fuel stabilizer or emptying the fuel and antifreeze if the User Manual stipulates.
- Know the required maintenance schedule. Your pressure washer User Manual will include a maintenance recommendation which usually includes a list of checks to make and at what interval – after each use, monthly, yearly etc. It will also include a servicing recommendation which for a gas machine includes cleaning the air filter and changing the spark plugs.
- Know how to troubleshoot common problems. There are common problems that you may encounter that are easy fixes. Your User Manual will include these with the solutions. They are: machine turned on but no water flow (check water source, unclog nozzle, remove lance and nozzle and spray with just gun), water leaking (check for o-ring damage between hose and spray gun), gas engine issues (check air filter, check fuel tank, are you on a steep incline?, check engine oil, clean air filter, check spark plug).
- Check out the How-to Library for tips and tricks how to pressure clean common surfaces like wood deck, concrete driveway, BBQ grill and more.
- Here is a link to Answers to the most frequently asked questions I receive. It also has some historical information on the pressure washer brands Briggs & Stratton and Troy-Bilt as I was interested in their history.
- Check out a ton of before and after pressure washing pics here to see what’s possible and get you motivated to clean.
Jamey has been testing and reviewing top pressure washers for 7 years. He worked as a commercial pressure washer at a rendering plant for 3 years and all up has been using commercial and residential pressure washers for 15+ years. He is also a mechanical engineer and while working in the mining industry designed several turn-key light industrial vehicle wash pads.