Pressure Washer Won’t Start [17 COMMON REASONS]

Is your pressure washer not starting? Starting issues can vary depending on the type of pressure washer you have. There are unique issues with electric washers such as power and electrical faults. Gas washers have their specific start faults. These can be blocked gas lines or old fuel.

There is nothing more annoying than machinery that won’t start. With pressure washers, there is a range of common issues around this. Having an understanding of the main causes of starting troubles with your washer can alleviate the frustration you feel.

Being able to address these faults yourself can save you money in unnecessary repair costs. Read on to find out what may be causing your washer to not start and how to fix the problem.

man working on pressure washer that won't start

Related Reading: Pressure Washer Safety Tips You Should Really Follow

Common Faults With Electric and Gas Washers

The engines of gas and electric washers do have some similar components. When these parts fail, it can lead to your washer refusing to go.

1. Spark Plug

A faulty spark plug should be seen as one of the first diagnostic steps. Have a look to see if there is any damage to the plug. Typical issues are:

  • It’s dirty: Don’t try to clean the plug. Simply swap it out for a new one.
  • The plug is cracked: This is caused by one of the electrodes inside the unit burning away or becoming damaged.
  • You have a faulty plug: Put the plug into a tester. If there is no spark from the terminal, then you need to get a new plug.

As part of your maintenance routine, you should check your spark plugs. By doing so you will minimize the chance of this contributing to pressure washer issues.

2. Ignition Coil

This part of your washer sends voltage to the spark plug. If you have determined that the spark plug isn’t the issue, you should look at the ignition coil. Use an ignition coil tester.

A faulty ignition coil can be easily replaced.

3. The Flywheel Key

Through normal wear and tear, your washer’s flywheel key can become old and fragile. That can lead to the key breaking or shearing while using your washer.

Another way the flywheel can be damaged is if there is pressure hitting a hard surface. The flywheel can break in half. That will cause the engine of your washer to stop.

So when you are cleaning a surface and find that your pressure washer has suddenly cut out, consider that it may be caused by your flywheel. You can replace the flywheel with a new one.

Close up of pressure washer showing how far pressure washer can spray

Electric Pressure Washer Problems

Because electric washers are made to run with power, most of the issues can be caused by electrical issues. However, there can be other reasons why your washer isn’t starting.

4. A dead battery

Some electric washers operate by battery. If your machine is refusing to start, it could be a battery issue. Attach a multimeter to the positive terminal. If it’s lower than what your manufacturer recommends, charge the battery or replace it.

5. Connected to the wrong outlet

Not having enough electricity for your washer can mean that it won’t start. Have a look if you have plugged it into the wrong power outlet.

A majority of washers need 12 to 14 amps of power. If your outlet isn’t giving you that level of amps, you are going to have a washer struggling to get going. Three-pin plugs will offer you the amount of power you are wanting.

6. Faulty capacitor

It’s easy to determine if the washer’s capacitor is starting to fail. Just listen carefully to the machine while it’s running. A loud or continuous humming/buzzing sound is an indicator that you need to look at the capacitor.

Another indicator that your capacitor is faulty is bulging on it or burn marks.

Without this component functioning, your washer won’t go.

Test the capacitor. If it isn’t working, replace it.

7. Your circuit breaker is tripped by the ground fault circuit interrupter

The grounding in your electric washer keeps you safe from shocks. Yet, this safety feature can cause the circuit breaker of your house to overload. This is possible when you have too many appliances being used at once.

If you find that your washer suddenly cuts out on you, have a look at the breaker board of your house. See if it has been tripped.

To avoid this situation, don’t put too much pressure on your circuit breaker when you’re cleaning with the pressure washer. Switch off or avoid using unnecessary appliances.

8. A blown fuse

As your washer gets older, the fuses will start to deteriorate due to wear and tear. If one has blown, then your machine won’t operate.

Check the fuses as an initial part of your investigation as to why your machine isn’t starting. Your manufacturer’s manual will tell you which type of fuse you need to use.

Swap out the blown fuse with the new one.

9. The extension cord

If you use an extension cord over a long distance you may find that you aren’t getting enough electricity into your washer.

Electric washers are made to operate over short distances (no longer than 25 feet) with extension cords.

If you are intending to go further than that, you can still use an extension cord. If you want a longer cord, make sure that it’s made with 12-gauge wire. This will deliver you the power that you need over those longer distances.

10. Tripped thermal overload

Your washer is designed to protect itself from overheating. If the unit gets too hot, it will trip the thermal overload feature.

When this happens, then let your washer cool down for several minutes. After that, press the reset button. If that hasn’t resolved the issue, try waiting a while longer and try resetting the machine again.

If your washer still does not want to start after it has completely cooled down, then you need to contact your manufacturer.

man wearing safety equipment pressure washing concrete

Gas Pressure Washer Problems

Fuel-related issues are the main contributors to gas pressure washers not starting. Yet, there can be mechanical problems, too.

11. Old fuel

Gas that has been left to sit for several months can lose its potency. That is due to the fuel oxidizing and turning stale. The result is a washer that splutters when running or a machine that completely refuses to start.

You can fix the problem by draining out the old fuel. Wash the fuel tank and then pour in new fuel. Consider adding a stabilizer to your fuel to prevent it from going stale.

12. Overheating

A tight gas cap. Pinched fuel lines. A dirty air filter. Problems with the fuel valve. These issues can all cause your gas washer to overheat. When the machine gets too hot, it’s going to shut down on you.

Allow the washer to cool down, then try starting it again. If it still refuses to go, then consider the contributing factors we mentioned at the beginning of this section.

A worst-case scenario is that the engine may need overhauling or replacing. Contact your manufacturer if this is the case.  You may be still covered under your warranty.

There are ways that you can reduce the chance of your washer overheating:

13. Clogged fuel filter

Dirt and debris can cause havoc if allowed to enter your washer. The fuel filter acts as the gatekeeper to keep these particles from going into the combustion chamber.

If the fuel filter is clogged, then your gas struggles to make its way into the pressure washer. This results in a machine that won’t start.

By giving your fuel filter a regular clean, you are clearing the gateway into the combustion chamber for your fuel. If the filter looks a little worse for wear, replace it with a new one.

14. Broken fuel pump

This is an integral part of your washer. It allows the fuel to pass into the fuel rail. From the rail, the fuel is then transferred to the combustion chamber.

So, if the fuel pump is broken, then your gas is never going to make its way into the combustion chamber. The result of that is a washer that isn’t starting.

Your fuel pump can be damaged in several ways:

  • Overheating: We looked at this problem earlier. Yet, there is another factor to consider. Fuel helps to keep your washer cool. Running out of fuel means that your pump has no way of remaining cool. The result is an overheated fuel pump.
  • Clogging of the pump: Debris and other particles can enter the pump through the gas tank. When these get stuck in the pump and start building up, it prevents the flow of fuel.
  • Wear and tear: Your pump may be worn out. Gears that operate the pump may seize up. Now your pump doesn’t work.

Cleaning the pump may be all that is required to have your washer running again. Wash out the dust and debris then reattach the pump.

Overheating is indicated by burn marks on the pump. Wear and tear can be easily seen through the pump being physically damaged. These issues can be fixed by replacing the pump with a new one.

15. Stagnant Oil

Oil helps the components of your washer to remain lubricated. That allows them to move smoothly as well as keep everything cool. When the oil is old, it can be harder to make its way through the unit.

If your washer isn’t lubricating properly, the components can become overheated or seize up. Both these situations can lead to your pressure washer not starting.

An indication of old oil is that it appears milky.

You should be replacing your oil at least once a year. More often if you use your pressure washer a lot.

Also, check the oil filter. There can be a build-up in this which can affect the proper flow of oil into your washer. Give your oil filter a good clean to remove any sludge.

Related Reading: How Much Oil Does a Pressure Washer Take?

16. Too much pressure

If your washer starts via a pull cord, the water pressure can make it hard to start the machine.

The start cord can be hard to pull if there is too much water pressure in the pump assembly. If you are struggling with the cord, gently squeeze the trigger of your spray gun while pulling at the start cord.

17. Clogged airline

A safety measure of washers is that they won’t start if the airline is blocked. Typically this is caused because you haven’t primed the washer properly.

You can fix this problem by allowing water to pass through the line. Pull the trigger of your spray gun to encourage water to flow and remove any blockages.

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When to Go to a Professional for Pressure Washer Repairs

We have covered the main reasons why your pressure washer won’t start. However, there can be a time when you need to consider professional help.

If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of fixing the washer yourself, you should think about taking your unit to a repair shop.

Perhaps you have tried the recommended fixes on this list, yet your machine still isn’t starting. That’s when you need to get the assistance of the experts. Contact your manufacturer and seek their advice.


Having a washer that refuses to start can be frustrating. Spark plug and flywheel key issues are some of the problems shared by both electric and gas-powered washers. Yet, each type of washer offers up unique problems.

For electric pressure washers, the situation revolves primarily around electrical faults such as blown fuses or insufficient power.

Fuel-related issues can cause gas washers to not start. Clogged fuel lines and blocked filters result in the gas not making it into the combustion chamber. Stake fuel can also affect your washer’s ability to get going.

If you don’t think you have the confidence to resolve the issue by yourself, then contact a local repair agent or your manufacturer.

Continue Reading: Can Dish Soap Be Used in a Pressure Washer?