Can I Use a Pressure Washer to Pump Water? With Tips From Pros


The main job of pressure washers is to clean various objects and exterior areas of your house or company. But I get many questions from users: can a pressure washer be used to pump water from one location to another? Or can a pressure washer pump water from a freestanding source? In this blog post, I will try to answer some of these questions.

Can I Use a Pressure Washer to Pump Water:

In general, some pressure washers can be used to pump water from a tank or other water source. Most belt drive pressure washers have this capability. These are mostly gas models. There are only a few electric models, like the Karcher K4 and K5, with this capability. I do not recommend using a pressure washer to pump water from one location to another one. A regular pump is much better suited.

Can I Use a Pressure Washer to Pump Water? With Tips From Pros 1

In this blog post, I will show what type of pressure washer can pump water. And how you can use a pressure washer with water from a well or a water tank.

Can I Use a Pressure Washer to Pump Water?

If a pressure washer can pump water is a common question that many people ask me. The pump’s primary purpose in pressure is to push water with high pressure out to the nozzle. Not to draw water from an external source to the pressure washer.

However, some pressure washers are more than capable of pumping water from an external source. This applies mainly to belt-driven pumps. Most of those pressure washers will work fine with a sucket hose. They can draw water from a bucket or other freestanding water source.

Keep in mind that this only works for water sources where the water is higher than the pressure washer. For example, from a bucket on the back of your truck, with the pressure washer on the ground. There are not a lot of pressure washers that can pump water from a lake or a pond.

Most budget-friendly electric pressure washers will be able to pump water well. Your mileage will vary greatly depending on the source and location. There are a few exceptions, like the Karcher K4 and K5. If you need to have such a capability, check the model you want to purchase carefully. Or ask the manufacturer.

Using a pressure washer to pump water from one location to another is not something I recommend. A pressure washer pump is not made for continuous usage. Always use a normal water pump for this.

Can You Run a Pressure Washer From a Water Tank?

Generally, you can use 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. Or add an additional pump. If you use a suction hose to get the water from the tank, you can only use specific gas and electric models.

Use the following steps to use your pressure washer with water from a water tank:

Step 1: Appropriate Water Level in tank

There are two main methods to use water from a water tank. One is from a tank that has an output at the bottom of the tank. This is often the case for fixed tanks. Or by using a suction hose. If you use a suction hose, you need a pressure washer capable of working with one.

Before starting to use the water, ensure that it contains enough water. If the water tank is not covered, try to remove as much dirt from it as possible. The more you remove before, the less problem you will have with the pressure washer inlet filter.

Step 2: Position of the Water Tank

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 that can deal 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 sort of 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.

Step 3: Connect the Pressure Washer to a Tank

If the water tank has an output at the bottom, you will use a hose to connect it with your pressure washer. Try to use the shortest hose possible, with the least amount of bends. The longer the hose, the lower the pressure. This also applies to kinks and bends. The straighter the hose, the higher the pressure. Always use a wide hose. This allows more water to flow through it and also has a positive effect on the pressure.

If you are using a suction hose, the connection is easy. Just ensure that the water level is higher than the pressure washer itself. If you still need to purchase a suction hose, ensure that the hose is long enough. And that is has a good quality filter, as often water tanks contain more dirt.

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 host and the pressure washer.

Step 4: Pressure Maintenance

Suppose you notice that the output of the pressure washer is not what you expect. Check the pressure at the end of the hose using a pressure gauge. You can check the amount of water (GPM) by filling a bucket and measure how long it takes. Use this to calculate how many gallons per minute (GPM) it delivers.

If you use a gravity assist water tank, the amount of water (GTM) and pressure will lower when the water level decreases. If your pressure washer can not handle this, increase the tank’s water level.

Last but not least. Check the inlet filter. Often water from a water tank contains more dirt than from a normal faucet. This

Could I Use a Pressure Washer With a Well Pump?

In general, you can use a pressure washer with a well pump. But ensure that the amount of water and the pressure coming from the well are enough for your machine. Most budget-friendly electric pressure washers need around 20 PSI and 1 GPM. Also, ensure that your pressure washer has an inlet filter to ensure that no dirt can enter the pump.

Every pressure washer requires a certain amount of water flow and pressure to work fine. If the well pump does not supply this, it probably means that your pressure washer will not work correctly. Check your manufacturer requirements for this. I have to add that my experience is that most pressure washers will work fine even with lower water pressure.

Check the pressure from the hose near the pressure washer using a pressure gauge. You can check the amount of water (GPM) by filling a bucket and measure how long it takes. Use this to calculate how many gallons per minute (GPM) it delivers.

Ensure that you are using a good quality inlet filter. Together with a well filter, this should help to retain dirt from reaching the pump. Check and clean those filters regularly.

Fixing Low Output Pressure Despite Having an Adequate Water Supply

Sometimes, a pressure washer produces low output pressure even when there’s an adequate water source. To fix this problem, check and clean the nozzle you are using. Ensure that the inlet filter is clean. Low pressure can also indicate a problem with the unloader valve.

Use the following solutions to fix the pressure washer low output pressure: 

Solution 1: Check and Replace the Nozzle

The low output pressure can be due to a clogged or dirty nozzle. With regular use, nozzles will wear over time. This can result in unusual spraying patterns and lower output pressure. I recommended having a replacement nozzle at hand. This allows you to test if the nozzle has an issue.

If the nozzle is damaged, replace it. If the nozzle is dirty, you can try to clean it.

Solution 2: Fixing the Hose

If your pressure washer is still producing low pressure after cleaning or replacing the nozzle. Check the hose that runs to the pressure washer. It needs to supply enough water with adequate pressure. Check what the minimum requirements for your machine are. Most budget-friendly models require around 1 gallon of water per minute and a pressure of around 20 PSI. But my experience is that they will work fine with lower pressure as well.

According to most experts, the recommended diameter of the supply hose should be ¾ inches. This allows enough water to reach the pressure washer. Use the shortest hose possible. The longer the hose, the lower the pressure. Check for any blockages in your hose, and try to minimize bends.

After checking the hose, check and clean the inlet filter of the pressure washer. Over time it will collect dirt and can block enough water from entering the pump.

Solution 3: Adjust the Unloader Valve

The main function of the unloader valve is to divert the water flow from the pump towards the bypass when the trigger is not used. If the unloader valve is not working or not adjusted correctly, it can lower output pressure.

Adjust the unloader valve slightly to increase the output pressure. Use a pressure gauge when adjusting the unloader valve to prevent the pressure from getting too high. If your machine is still producing low pressure after adjusting the unloader valve, it may be malfunctioning. Check the unloader valve, or replace it.

Solution 4: Pressure Washer Maintenance

To keep a pressure washer working correctly, maintenance is essential. What you need to do depends on the type of machine you use. Electric pressure washers require less maintenance than gas models.

When a gas pressure washer engine does not work correctly, the power it will produce will be lower. This will result in a lower output pressure. Check and change the oil at regular intervals. Check and clean the air filter and spark plug. Use fresh gas. Gas can go bad after storing it for more than a few months. Add some fuel stabilizer if you plan on storing it for a  longer period.

An electric pressure washer does not have similar issues. When the motor is working, it almost always produces the power it should. When there is an issue with the motor, it just will not run. And in that case, you hear this. And there will be no output pressure at all.

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