If your pressure washer won’t start, this guide will walk you through how to get it running. It could be a mechanical problem (like the carburetor is clogged) or just a matter of incorrect setup (like there’s no power), but either way, we’ll show you all the possible causes and how to fix them.
How to start a pressure washer
Sometimes, a pressure washer won’t start because of a simple setup problem. Review the steps below to make sure you’re setting up correctly. If you’re doing everything right and it’s still not starting, keep reading to see other problems.
- Set your pressure washer on a flat surface.
- Connect your garden hose to the pump’s water inlet.
- Connect the high pressure hose to the pump’s water outlet.
- Connect the other end of the high pressure hose to the spray gun.
- Select a nozzle and connect it to the tip of the spray gun.
- Turn on your water supply (the garden hose).
- Hold the trigger on the spray gun until water flow is consistent.
The next steps are different depending on whether your pressure washer is gas or electric. For electric, all you need to do is plug in the power cord and press the power button. For gas, check the fuel and oil levels, turn the engine on, open the fuel valve, choke and throttle (if you have these), and finally, pull the starter cord.
Gas pressure washer won’t start
When a gas pressure washer won’t start, there’s usually a mechanical problem. Most of them are easy to fix, but some require you to take the engine apart. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, you may want to contact a local power equipment shop.
The spark plug is fouled.
Remove the spark plug wire to expose the spark plug. Use a socket wrench to remove the spark plug from the engine. Check the condition of the electrode (the tip). If it’s dirty, it should be cleaned with a soft wire brush, or you can replace it with a new one for about $5.
The carburetor is clogged.
Remove the air filter to expose the carburetor. Detach the fuel line, throttle linkage and anything else connected to the carburetor (varies by engine). Remove the carburetor from the engine. Use a socket wrench to remove the bowl. Check the condition of everything. If it’s dirty, it should be disassembled and cleaned with a carb cleaner, or you can replace it with a new one for about $25.
The ignition coil is bad.
Remove the starter housing to expose the ignition coil. Disconnect the wiring harness and connect an ignition coil tester. Try to start the engine. If you can’t see a strong spark in the tester, the ignition coil should be replaced. A new one is about $20.
The battery is dead (electric-start engines).
Remove the positive terminal from the battery. Connect a multimeter to the battery. Test the voltage. If the reading is below the recommended voltage for your battery, it should be charged, or you can replace it with a new one for about $40.
Electric pressure washer won’t start
When an electric pressure washer won’t start, there’s usually a problem with power. Most of them are easy to fix, but some require you to open your electrical panel. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, you may want to contact an electrician.
The outlet has no power.
Plug the power cord into a different outlet. If that one works, there’s a problem with the first outlet. You may be able to reset it (if it’s a GFCI outlet), otherwise it should be replaced. If the second outlet also didn’t work, there’s a problem with the circuit. Open your electrical panel and look for a tripped breaker. Flip the breaker OFF, then ON.
The GFCI on the power cord tripped.
Plug the power cord into a working outlet. Press the reset button on the GFCI. If it won’t reset, check the power cord for damage. If it’s damaged, it should be replaced. If not, there may be a fault in the circuit. Contact an electrician.
The thermal overload on the motor tripped.
Wait a few minutes for the motor to cool down. Press the overload reset button. If it won’t reset, wait a little longer and try again. If it still won’t reset after it’s cool, the motor should be replaced. Contact the manufacturer about warranty.
The circuit isn’t powerful enough.
Connect a multimeter to the outlet you want to use. Test the amperage. If the reading is below the required amperage of the motor, the circuit needs more power (or you need a less powerful pressure washer). Contact an electrician.
Frequently asked questions
The most common questions about startup problems are answered below. For other questions, you can reach out to us at any time. If you have a question about a specific product, you may need to contact the manufacturer.
Why won’t a pressure washer start after sitting?
If your pressure washer won’t start after winter, or it’s just been sitting because you haven’t needed to use it, the most common problem is a clogged carburetor. Over time, fuel evaporates and turns into varnish, which clogs the carb. You can prevent this by using a fuel stabilizer before storage.
Why won’t a pressure washer start after running out of gas?
If your pressure washer ran out of gas while running and now it won’t start again after adding more, the most common problem is a clogged carburetor. Most fuel has a small amount of sediment in it, and when you run out of gas, the sediment gets sucked into the carb and clogs it.
What if your pressure washer starts then stops?
If your pressure washer starts but won’t stay running, there’s a few reasons this could be happening. Read our full troubleshooting guide to learn how to fix them.