Why is my pressure washer surging?

Why is My Pressure Washer Surging?  Learn how to fix the issue. Pressure washers are incredibly handy tools that help you tackle tough cleaning tasks with ease. However, if you’ve ever encountered a situation where your pressure washer starts surging, it can be frustrating and puzzling. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of pressure washer surging, answering the question, “Why is my pressure washer surging?” We’ll delve into the possible causes, troubleshooting steps, and solutions, ensuring you’re well-equipped to address this issue effectively and get your pressure washer back in action.

Why is My Pressure Washer Surging?

Pressure washer surging, characterized by inconsistent water pressure, can stem from various factors. Understanding these potential culprits is the first step towards resolving the issue. Let’s dive into the most common reasons:

Clogged or Dirty Nozzle

A dirty or clogged nozzle can disrupt the water flow and lead to surging. Debris, mineral deposits, or grime can accumulate in the nozzle, affecting the pressure. Regularly cleaning or replacing the nozzle can often rectify this problem.

Inadequate Water Supply

Insufficient water supply to your pressure washer can result in surging. Ensure that the water source provides a consistent and ample flow of water to maintain stable pressure throughout the cleaning process.

Air Leaks

Air leaks in the pressure washer’s intake or water hose can lead to surging. These leaks disrupt the proper suction of water, causing fluctuations in pressure. Check all connections for any signs of leakage and address them promptly.

Pump Issues

A malfunctioning pump can be a significant contributor to pressure washer surging. Worn-out seals, damaged valves, or a failing pump can disrupt the water pressure. Regular maintenance and timely pump replacements can prevent this issue.

Unloader Valve Problems

The unloader valve is responsible for redirecting water when the trigger is released. If this valve is malfunctioning or incorrectly adjusted, it can cause pressure fluctuations. Adjusting or replacing the unloader valve as needed can help stabilize pressure.

Engine or Motor Irregularities

For gas-powered pressure washers, engine-related issues such as low oil levels, dirty air filters, or spark plug problems can lead to surging. Similarly, electric pressure washers might experience surging due to motor malfunctions. Regular engine or motor maintenance is crucial to avoid such problems.

Effective Troubleshooting and Solutions

Now that we’ve explored the potential causes of pressure washer surging, let’s move on to troubleshooting and solutions to address the issue effectively:

1. Check and Clean the Nozzle

Inspect the nozzle for any clogs or debris. If you notice any buildup, remove the nozzle and clean it thoroughly. Consider using a nozzle cleaning solution or a small wire to clear stubborn deposits.

2. Ensure Proper Water Supply

Check that your pressure washer is receiving an adequate water supply. Make sure the water source is fully open and provides a steady flow of water. In cases of low water pressure, consider using a larger diameter hose or a hose with fewer bends.

3. Inspect for Air Leaks

Carefully examine all connections and hoses for signs of air leaks. Tighten loose connections, replace damaged hoses, and ensure a tight seal at all joints. A tight and secure connection will prevent air from entering the system.

4. Evaluate the Pump

If you suspect a pump issue, inspect the pump for visible damage, leaks, or worn-out seals. Consult your pressure washer’s manual for guidance on pump maintenance or replacement. Regularly maintaining the pump can extend its lifespan and prevent surging.

5. Adjust or Replace the Unloader Valve

Check the unloader valve for proper adjustment. If it’s not functioning correctly, consider adjusting it according to your pressure washer’s manual. If adjustment doesn’t resolve the issue, replacing the unloader valve might be necessary.

6. Perform Engine/Motor Maintenance

For gas-powered pressure washers, ensure the engine’s oil level is adequate, air filters are clean, and the spark plug is in good condition. Electric pressure washers should be regularly inspected for motor malfunctions. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines is essential.

FAQs About Pressure Washer Surging

Why does my pressure washer surge when I release the trigger?

Pressure washers surge upon trigger release due to the unloader valve redirecting water. If the unloader valve is faulty or improperly adjusted, it can cause pressure fluctuations.

Can a clogged nozzle cause surging?

Yes, a clogged nozzle can disrupt the water flow and lead to pressure washer surging. Regular nozzle cleaning or replacement is essential.

How do I fix air leaks in my pressure washer?

Inspect all connections and hoses for air leaks. Tighten loose connections and replace damaged hoses to prevent air from entering the system.

What maintenance tasks can prevent pump-related surging?

Regularly clean the pump, inspect for leaks, and replace worn-out seals. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations can prevent pump-related surging.

Is pressure washer surging dangerous for the machine?

Pressure washer surging can strain components and potentially lead to damage if not addressed. Timely troubleshooting and maintenance are crucial to avoid long-term harm.

Why should I use a larger diameter hose for water supply?

Using a larger diameter hose reduces water flow restrictions, ensuring a consistent and steady supply of water to the pressure washer, which helps prevent surging.


Encountering pressure washer surging can be a frustrating experience, but armed with the knowledge of its potential causes and effective solutions, you can confidently troubleshoot and address the issue. Remember to perform regular maintenance, inspect key components, and follow manufacturer guidelines to ensure your pressure washer operates smoothly. By taking these proactive steps, you’ll be able to maintain optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your valuable tool.