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Can you run a pressure washer from a bucket? Helpful tips

There can be many reasons why you would like to use your pressure washer from a bucket. Cleaning objects with no faucet close, or you are in a remote location. There are pressure washers and even power washers with their water supply. But I get many questions if it is also possible with their current pressure washer.

Can you run a pressure washer from a bucket:

In general, only specific pressure washers can use water from a bucket. Additionally, you need a pressure washer suction hose. Pressure washers that can use it are primarily belt-driven gas pressure washers and a few electric models, like the Karcher K4 and K5 models. Ensure that your pressure washer uses a good quality inlet filter, so no impurities from the bucket can find their way to the pump.

I will show you in this article how and what pressure washer you need with water from a bucket. What are the options to gravity feed your machine, and how to use water from a pond or lake?

How to run a pressure washer from a bucket? Step-by-Step guide

To use a pressure washer with water from a bucket, you need a suitable suction hose. Not all pressure washers can be used with a suction hose. My experience is that most budget-friendly models do not work well with it. But some electric pressure washers, like the Karcher K4 and K5 models, work well with them. Also, most models with a belt-driven pump will work fine. These are mostly gas pressure washers.

If your pressure washer can use a suction hose, it is easy to use it with a bucket. If you still need to purchase a suction hose, check that the host is long enough for your situation.

To use a pressure washer from a bucket, use the following steps:

  • Step 1. Check the inlet filter: Check and clean the pressure washer inlet filter.
  • Step 2. Fill the bucket with water.
  • Step 3. Remove the air inside the hose: To remove the air inside the suction hose, pour half a liter of water into the open end of the hose.
  • Step 4. Connect the hose to the pressure washer: Connect one end of the suction hose to the pressure washer.
  • Step 5. Place one end of the hose in the bucket: Put the other end of the suction hose in the bucket full of water. Make sure that this end of the hose stays underwater all the time.
  • Step 6. Fix the hose: To prevent the hose from slipping out of the bucket, tie it to the bucket. You can use some duck tape or a tie wrap for this.
  • Step 7. Power on the pressure washer: Turn on the pressure washer and start cleaning.
  • Step 8. Disconnect the hose after cleaning: After cleaning, take one end of the hose from the bucket and disconnect the hose from the pressure washer.

Can I gravity feed a pressure washer?

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

To use water from any source, 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. But 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.

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 water pressure from a gravity assist source, you have to increase the height between the water and the pressure washer. If you use a sort of water tank that can be moved, you can move it to higher ground. Alternatively, you can use a strong construction to lift it from the ground. But ensure that it can bear the tank’s weight, including the water.

Another method to increase the pressure from the water source 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 a good quality inlet filter. Water from various sources 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.

Can you use a Karcher pressure washer with a bucket? Some helpful tips

Some Karcher pressure washer models can be used with a bucket or other standing water source. , such as the K4 and K5 models. Most other models like the K2, K3, or K1700-K2000 models can not use this. Karcher also sells the SH3 suction hose that can be used with the earlier mentioned K4 and K5 models.

All Karcher pressure washers can work with running water from a hose. Only specific models that work with a suction hose like the SH3, can get water from alternate sources like ponds, water buckets, or tanks. The suction hose includes a filter to prevent debris from entering the pressure washer.

The Karcher SH3 suction hose has a length of 9.8 feet (3 meters). This means that your pressure washer should be close to the water source, as part of the suction hose will be in the water as well.

It can be used with a max temperature of 104° F. To achieve the best results. I recommend having the water level at the same height or higher than the pressure washer.

Some people tried to use the suction hose to pump water from a lake as well. The results are mixed. For some, it works fine. Others did not manage to make it work. Keep in mind that the length of the hose is not really long, so you need to place the pressure washer really close to the water.

I recommend fixing the suction hose, so it can not easily move when you are using it. Depending on the location, you can use some duck tape or tie wrap. If you use the suction hose in a lake or pond, use a stone with some rope to keep the suction hose in place at the needed depth. A pressure washer running dry is not good for the pump.

Can a pressure washer draw water from a lake? Some helpful tips

In general, a pressure washer cannot draw water directly from a lake. Most pressure washer pumps are not strong enough to suck up water from a source that is beneath your machine. Some users claim success with specific electric pressure washer models and some gas models with a belt-driven pump. Always ensure that the pressure washer can work with a suction hose.

The problem with using water from a lake is that the pump needs to be strong enough to overcome gravity. For a lot of machines, this is not the case. For those machines, I recommend using a simple submersible pump. There are both electric and gas options.

If your pressure washer manages or almost manages to draw water from the lake, you can use the following tips:

  • Tip 1. Minimize the height:  Try to minimize the height between the lake and the pressure washer. The closer the pressure washer is to the lake surface, the less gravity it needs to overcome.
  • Tip 2. Minimize the number of bends: The lower the number, the less resistance for the water.
  • Tip 3. Short and wide hose: Use the shortest and widest hose available. The shorter and wider the hose, the less resistance the water will have.
  • Tip 4. Clean the filter: Clean the suction hose filter, and check it regularly.

● Using a submersible pump to use water from a pond or lake for your pressure washer

Use the following step to draw water for a pressure washer from a lake or pond:

– Step 1: Use a submersible or a pump with a suction hose

The first step is to purchase a submersible or well pump. Alternatively, you can also use a water pump with a suction hose. Depending on your situation, you can use an electric model or a gas pump. Ensure that the output pressure (PSI) and amount of water (GPM) match the requirements of your pressure washer. A lot of budget-friendly models require around 1GPM and a pressure of around 20 PSI. But most will work fine with slightly lower pressure.

– Step 2: Attach the hose to the pump

The next step is to attach the hose from the pump to where you will use your pressure washer. To minimize pressure loss in the hose, use the shortest hose possible. A hose with a wide diameter and the lowest number of bends helps as well.

– Step 3: Use a good quality filter

If you use a submersible pump, ensure that the filter is clean. Similar if you use a pump with a suction hose. Lake water will contain a lot of dirt and small particles. The filter in the pump or the suction hose will lower the dirt and small particles reaching the water and pressure washer pump.

Always use an inlet filter on your pressure washer. If your model does not have one, add one between the hose and the pressure washer. Before starting, check and clean the inlet filter.

– Step 4: Connect the filter output to the pressure washer inlet

The next step is to attach a hose to the pump. As mentioned earlier, use a short and wide hose. And minimize the number of bents to minimize the pressure loss in the hose.

– Step 5: Turn on the pressure washer and start cleaning

After all the above steps are completed, turn on the water pump and then the pressure washer. Check if all is working fine. Do not use the pressure washer with no water.