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Keep Your Pressure Washer Working Well With This Maintenance Checklist

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated November 23, 2021
Beautiful clean beige house and driveway
andreaobzerova - stock.adobe.com

Keep your pressure washer in tip-top shape so that just-pressure-washed feeling of pure satisfaction is always within your reach

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It’s tough to decide whether it feels more satisfying to watch grime and mildew disappear in clean lines as you pressure wash or to look out over your freshly pressure-washed deck, driveway, or fence once you're done. In order to get either sort of oh-so-good satisfaction, it’s important to keep your pressure washer in good working shape.  Read on for a step-by-step guide to pressure washer maintenance.

Why You Should Perform Routine Maintenance

When you’re ready to pressure wash, you’re usually excited about the fresh look your space will have, not the few minutes before and after that you spend properly caring for your pressure washer. These few minutes can mean the difference between a pressure washer that lasts for years and one that stops performing long before it should. 

Investing the necessary time in routine maintenance also guarantees you never face the disappointment of clearing your schedule, getting pumped to pressure wash, only to end up pulling out a busted machine.

How Often You Should Perform a Maintenance Check

As is required for most machines, pressure washer maintenance isn't something you do all at once every couple of years. Instead, it’s a series of tasks and checks that take place at different intervals. Your specific machine's user manual will have a detailed maintenance guide, but in general, there are steps you’ll want to take before and after each use and when you plan to store your machine. 

Before You Use Your Pressure Washer

You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get cleaning. But before you do, no matter what type of pressure washer you have, a pressure washer pre-use check should include the following: 

1. Check the water inlet screen. This is where the garden hose connects to your pressure washer. If the water lnlet screen is dirty, rinse away any debris or dirt with clean water. If the water inlet screen is damaged, you should replace it.

2. Test the spray gun, including the wand extension and spray tip, to ensure all connections are secure. 

3. Test the spray gun trigger and trigger lock to be sure they are working. 

4. Some pressure washers have an inlet screen on the wand extension as well. If yours does, verify that it’s clean and unclogged. 

5. Inspect your high-pressure hose for any damage or weak spots.

6. Make sure the detergent siphon tube is not clogged. If your siphon tube has a filter, check to ensure it's clean and free of debris.

7. If you have a gas-powered pressure washer, check the oil and gas levels. 

8. Run water through your garden hose to ensure your hose is cleared before connecting to your pressure washer. 

After You Use Your Pressure Washer

Man cleaning a wooden gate with a power washer
andreaobzerova - stock.adobe.com

You’re done and those plastic patio chairs have never looked better. Before you walk away to pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, there are several pre-storage tasks you’ll need to complete to ensure your pressure washer is ready for use next time: 

1. Rinse the detergent out of your pressure washer. Remove the siphon tube from the soap supply and run water through the system for 2 minutes using the lowest pressure setting. 

2. Turn off the pressure washer and the water supply hose. 

3. If you have an electric pressure washer, unplug it. 

4. Run the spray gun until water stops flowing. 

5. Lock the trigger on the spray gun. 

6. Let the pressure washer cool down for a few minutes. 

7. Disconnect the hose.

8. Disconnect the spray gun, wand extension, and high-pressure hose and let the water drain from them completely.  

9. Clear out the pump. On an electric model, you’ll need to plug it back in long enough for water to leave the pump. On a gas-powered pressure washer, this can be done by pulling the recoil handle several times. 

10. Wipe down the exterior of the washer with a rag to remove excess water and any dirt or debris. 

Proper Pressure Washer Storage

You should store your pressure washer somewhere cool and dry to ensure your machine is ready to use next time you get the pressure washing bug.

Take the following steps: 

1. Store your pressure washer in a dry area away from any heat sources. 

2. Protect your machine with a cover, and be sure the shed or garage you’re storing it in doesn't get below freezing. 

3. For gas-powered pressure washers: If you are storing your pressure washer for more than a month or over winter, treat your fuel with a stabilizer or drain the gasoline and run the engine until it’s out of fuel.

Pressure Washer Maintenance Checklist for Gas-Powered Machines

Closeup of power washing a wood deck
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If you have a gas-powered pressure washer, you’ll need to take special care to be sure your engine remains in shape between uses. Follow all of the manufacturer’s guidelines in your owner’s manual to perform these tasks in greater detail, as each model is slightly different. 

Your regular gas-powered pressure washer maintenance checklist should include the following:

1. Check and replace the engine oil. Drain the oil while it’s still warm and replace it carefully, being sure not to overfill it.

2. Always dispose of old engine oil properly—never pour it on the ground or into the trash. Find out where your city’s disposal sites are and use them.

3. Check the spark plugs. Before you remove the spark plug, clean around the area to ensure nothing falls into the combustion chamber when the plug is removed. 

4. If the spark plug looks burned out or cracked, replace it. 

5. Inspect your air filter. Replace a paper filter or, if you have a reusable foam filter, follow your manual for cleaning instructions. 

6. Check your pressure washer’s fuel levels. Many gas-powered pressure washer manufacturers recommend using gas less than a month old to avoid corrosion. 

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