Tips for using a Pressure Washer 

When your spending this much of your money on anything its important to understand it so we get our full use out of it and particularly with a pressure washer it is important to understand the safety concerns.

Used in the right hands we really can make our homes sparkle and shine to look just like new but there’s a few things we need to remember before diving in head first.

For operating we need to remember the following …….

  • Always apply the detergent you are using at at a low pressure,if you are not careful you may have the pressure washer set at too high a pressure to efficiently use detergent .The reason this is not a good idea is that you could end up blowing your detergent too thin a layer to be effective with all that power behind it.
  • If you feel there is not enough water coming from the tip compared to other time this could be that dirt has blocked the tip and is clogging the water.One way to clean this is to remove the tip from the wand,then use a straightened paper clip to push any dirt clear .To do this go from the outside of the tip to the inside.Another method I like is to bang it on a hard surface to loosen the dirt. Remember there is a lot of water pressure forcing whatever dirt is in there into that small hole so it can really jam itself in there.
  • Which leads me on to the next tip,If you find your tips are getting clogged frequently this could be a sign of dirty water in your area.Some pressure washers will have built in water filters to remove any particles from the water to stop this.Of course it would be wise to check your manual to find out if you do have a filter and where it is installed .However its very possible you don’t have a filter installed or that the interior of the hoses has started to degrade and this is what is now clogging up your tips.
  • If you notice any small leaks spring from your washer you should fix this before it snow balls into something worse…. small leaks can become big leaks very quickly when we are dealing with this much pressure.
  • Always ,always ,always keep your pressure washer away from freezing temperatures .Its very hard to completely dry out the internal parts of your machine and what happens next when it reaches freezing temperatures is that the water expands when it freezes and this expansions needs to go somewhere and unfortunately its at the expense of the seals and o rings inside your machine that suffer. If in doubt use an antifreeze.It is better to stay away from regular car anti freeze as this is toxic ,instead RV anti freeze is always recommended but if in doubt use a solution recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If you believe you have a low water pressure going from your water source to the washer some ways to cure this is to use a smaller diameter hose or pipe that leads into your inlet valve.
  • Make sure no air is inside the system.You will need to fix this at the source,usually it is nothing to do with the washer itself.
  • So maybe you have notice something is wrong and now wish to raid your tool box and have a go at fixing it.No problem ,but before doing anything to the machine always make sure you empty any pressure from the inside.Usually this happen when people attempt to fix something while the pressure washer was in use still.Empty it first of any pressure otherwise you have a time bomb on your hands.
  • Another tip I always remind people of is to never leave the pump running longer than a few minutes without water passing through it.
  • And by a few minutes I mean 1 to 2 and by water passing through it I mean if you don’t think your going to be using the machine because you will be doing something else turn it off. If the pump is left on for to long without fresh water pashing through itself the water will heat up and damage the seals and joints inside.And since the pump is the brain of your pressure washer,sometimes if this breaks its cheaper to get a whole new unit.
  • I know many people have been tempted to connect the inlet hose to a hot water faucet so that they have hot water coming out to help clean those really stubborn stains.I will admit.. its a good idea but please don’t do this unless you like supporting your local repair shop.Hot water will damage the seals and o rings causing a lot of leaks.
  • When your finished cleaning and your surveying all that great work you just did don’t forget to properly shut down your machine as per the instructions.Some steps people miss out on are not flushing clean water through the pump to remove any residual detergent that is left inside .Also if you have a engine driven pressure washer be sure to let the engine sit at idle for a few minutes to cool down properly.These are not super advanced high tech engines like we find in cars nowadays.They are fairly basic engines and need to be cared for to keep them in top condition.With a little love they will last a long time.
  • On Gas Engines always make sure the speed throttle is set to the highest speed.This is so the engine can spin the pump at a high enough speed so that the pump operates at high pressure.Otherwise the pump is not moving fast enough to build up enough pressure. If it is set too low ,a common symptom is the engine to run as usual but will shut off when the trigger is pulled or it may still work fine with the wide angle soap tip since this is not using water supplied at a high pressure.

Cleaning with a pressure washer.

  • As always when cleaning its very important to start at the highest part and work your way down to a lower level.This is to avoid any streaking from the dirty water flowing down onto a clean area.If you did not do this you will find that when the water dries you are still left with stains as most likely you did not rinse the area enough.
  • If you feel up to the challenge or removing graffiti also known as freelance art in some quarters usually what works best is pure power to smash it off….. however be careful to clean the whole wall afterwards or else you will be left with a graffiti shaped stain on your wall.
  • When using detergents ensure that you leave it on the stain long enough to work its magic.The longer you leave it the better….. however but mindful not to leave the detergent on for too long especially if it is in direct sunlight or else you could have a very unsightly detergent stain where you wanted a nice shiny driveway.
  • You might be very tempted to use hot water to make cleaning more efficient but we warned that hot water and wood = BAD .The hot water can cause the wood to expand and contract so much it can crack.
  • Try to avoid pointing the water in cracks and holes.This area is already weak and the water pressure can either enlarge the holes or force the water in to places you don’t want going.This is especially true for roofs or ventilation panels.

Safety tips for using a Pressure washer

  • It might be very tempting to use the water to rinse off suds or dirt from your hands or feet but never under estimate how powerful the water can be once its flowing.Sprayed at the wrong place the high pressure water can cause a lot of damage to someone or something. Don’t believe me ? Although she was using a weaker pressure washer and got off easy you can read here for what happened to Laura from My Home in Portugal. OUCH!!!
  • Hard to reach place ? Ladder available in the shed ? Do not use it. Ladders and pressure washers do not mix.Its a much safer idea to get a wand extension to reach higher.
  • If you are using a gas powered pressure washer and you start running low on gas it might seem smart to just top up the tank but this really is not a good idea.Always turn the machine off,allow it to cool down and then refill the tank.
  • Beware of pressure washers and using them on windows or glass in general.It may seem logical and convenient to use one on your windows but if your pressure washer in on the strong side you could do damage to them.Try instead standing farther away to lessen the pressure and also avoid directly spraying into the corners as the seals can very easily be compromised.
  • If the high pressure hose that comes from the pump to the wand is in anyway damaged stop using it.Always try to avoid any heavy weight on the hose also,like driving over it or anything like that as this can damage the hose internally where you probably won’t be able to spot any marks.If in doubt buy a new hose and learn from your mistake.
  • Do not make the mistake of thinking that once the machine is off there is no more pressure in the hose.Any water left inside the hose from the machine to the wand is still compressed to a high pressure and can still cause damage if aimed at the wrong place.So whenever you are finished always empty all the water from the system into a safe area.


I hope this post has helped you in some way in explaining how to use a pressure washer.

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If you think I missed out on anything or want to add something please leave a comment in the box below.

By Gavin O Hanlon.