Can I Gravity Feed a Pressure Washer? Tips From Professionals


An essential ingredient to using your pressure washer effectively is a suitable water source. In most cases, a faucet will be available for jobs around the house. But there can be many reasons why you would like to use a gravity-fed water source. I get many questions from users if they can use such a source or if they need a water pump?

In general, you can only gravity feed a pressure washer after ensuring that it can deliver enough water and suitable pressure. Most budget-friendly pressure washers need around 1 gallon per minute (GPM) with pressure around 20 PSI. But my experience is that most machines will work fine with lower pressure. If the gravity-fed water source can not deliver enough pressure, a pump should be.

Can I Gravity Feed a Pressure Washer? Tips From Professionals 1

In this article, I will show what needs to be done to gravity feed a pressure washer. And if the pressure from the water source is not strong enough, how to increase it. I will also look at using water from a lake, pond, or rain barrel.

Can I gravity feed my Pressure Washer from a water tank?

Generally, you can gravity feed a pressure washer from a water tank. Ensure that the pressure and amount of water coming from the tank is sufficient for your pressure washer model. If this is not the case, increase the height of the tank to increase the pressure. If you use a suction hose to get the water from the tank, you can only use specific gas and electric models.

To use water from the water tank, the output pressure (PSI) and amount of water (GPM) are important. A pressure washer needs a minimum pressure and amount of water to work well. More budget-friendly pressure washers often need a pressure of around 20 PSI and 1 GTM. Even do my experience is that they will work fine with lower pressure.

You can check the output pressure with a pressure gauge. If you notice that it is much lower, you have two options. One is to use a pressure washer that can work with lower pressure. Or increase the pressure from the water tank.

Pressure washers with a lower input pressure are the same models that can also work with a sucket hose. These are mostly gas models that have a belt-driven pump. Some more budget-friendly electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5 also have this capability.

To increase the pressure from a gravity assist water tank, you have to increase the height between the tank and the pressure washer. If the tank is portable, you can place it on higher ground. Or place it on a higher and strong construction that can bear the tank’s weight and water.

Another method to increase the pressure from a water tank is to use an additional pump. You can use a regular water pump for this. It only needs to be able to deliver a certain output pressure with enough GPM.

Always ensure that your pressure washer has an inlet filter. Water from a water tank will generally have more dirt than water from an ordinary faucet. This dirt is harmful to the pressure washer pump. If your pressure washer does not have one, purchase a good quality one. And mount it between the hose and the pressure washer.

Do I Need a Pump Between My Tank and My Pressure Washer? Some useful tips

In general, you only need an additional pump between a tank and a pressure washer if the current pressure is insufficient. Most budget-friendly pressure washers need around 20PSI, but most will still work fine with somewhat lower pressure. When you notice that the water pressure is not sufficient, adding a regular water pump will make a big difference.

Another method would be to using a suction hose. Not all pressure washers have such a capability. Mostly gas models with a belt-driven pump and some more budget-friendly electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5. With a suction hose, ensure that the water level is higher than the pressure washer itself.

When using water from a tank, make sure that your pressure washer has an inlet filter. Water from a water tank will generally have more dirt than water from an ordinary faucet. This dirt is harmful to the pressure washer pump. If your pressure washer does not have one, purchase a good quality one. And mount it between the host and the pressure washer.

How Do You Increase Water Pressure in a Gravity Fed System? Some useful tips

Generally, to increase the water pressure in a gravity-fed system, you have to increase the height between the water source and the pressure washer. Use between the water source and the pressure washer a short and thick hose, and minimize bends. This will ensure a minimum pressure loss. If the pressure is still not sufficient, add a portable pump between the water source and the pressure washer.

The pressure from a gravity-fed system is mainly defined by the height between the water source and the pressure washer. Increasing the height will increase the pressure. For a fixed installation, this will be difficult to change. But if you have a more portable setup, it is maybe possible to raise it.

Besides the pressure, the amount of water is also important. When the end of the hose has a small output diameter, the pressure will increase. But understand that your pressure washer needs a certain amount of water to work correctly.

If the water source can deliver a relatively high GPM, you can use a short hose with a large diameter to increase the amount of water reaching the pressure washer. This will not increase the pressure directly but will ensure that the pressure washer will work fine. To minimize any pressure loss, minimize the number of bends.

Do Pressure Washers Need a Pressurized Water Supply? Some useful tips

In general, most budget-friendly pressure washers need a minimum pressure of around 20 PSI to work correctly. But my experience is that most will work fine with lower pressure. Pressure washers are built to push the water with high pressure out of the nozzle, not to suck water from a water source. Only some models with a belt-driven pump and a few electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5 can work with a suction hose.

If the pump doesn’t get an adequate amount of water with a certain minimum pressure, the pump can damage. Air bubbles can occur, also called cavitation, that can even lead to the pump exploding.

Can a Pressure Washer Draw Water From a Lake? Some useful tips

In general, almost all pressure washers can not directly draw water from a lake or pond. Some people claim success, but my attempts were not successful. To try it, you need a pressure washer that can work with a suction hose. Those are mostly gas models with a belt-driven pump and a few electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5. Ensure that the height between the suction hose and the pressure washer is as low as possible.

If your pressure washer cannot draw water from a lake, you can use a submersible or well pump. There are both electric and gas pumps. Ensure that you always use a good quality inlet filter. Water from a lake or a pond will contain many impurities that should not reach the pump. If your machine does not have one, you can add it between the hose and the pressure washer. Check and clean the filter regularly.

Can You Connect a Pressure Washer to a Rain Barrel? Some useful tips

Rain barrels are similar to other water containers, with the exception that they collect rainwater. There are two main methods to use this water with a pressure washer. If the rain barrel has an outlet at the bottom of the barrel, you can connect a hose to it. The other method is to use a suction hose.

If you use the outlet at the bottom of the rain barrel, ensure that the pressure is enough for your pressure washer. Most pressure washers need a pressure around 20PSI. But my experience is that they work fine with lower pressure as well. To increase the pressure, increase the height between the barrel and the pressure washer.

If your pressure washer does not work well because of the lower pressure, add a pump between the barrel and the pressure washer. To minimize pressure loss in the hose, use a short one with a large diameter. And minimize the number of bends. As the water in the rain barrel will contain many impurities, always use a good quality inlet filter.

If you plan to use a suction hose, you need to ensure that your pressure washer can use one. Those are mostly gas models with a belt-driven pump and a few electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5. In most cases, the suction hose will have a filter and ensure that your pressure washer has one. Check and clean it regularly.

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