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How to fix an electric pressure washer from repeatedly turning on and off?

In this blog post, I will discuss a few simple DIY ways to repeatedly fix your electric pressure washer by turning it on and off. You can always do some basic maintenance yourself without seeking expensive professional assistance. Read your electric pressure washer’s user manual carefully and prepare for some minor repairs, even if you are not good at technical tasks.

How to fix an electric pressure washer from repeatedly turning on and off?

You can use the following steps to fix the problem of your electric pressure washer repeatedly turning on and off:

  • Step 1: Preparation before repair
  • Step 2: Check the power cable and wall plug
  • Step 3: Check the unloader valve

The engine of your electric pressure washer turns on and off when its unloader valve fails, so you must check it regularly. Replacing the capacitor can also help solve your electric pressure washer problem.

Scroll on to read the details of these simple DIY methods to fix your electric pressure washer, especially if it turns on and won’t stay running long enough as its engine dies immediately and keeps stalling again and again.


What makes your electric pressure washer cut in and out?

An electric pressure washer cycles or turns itself on and off when you turn its engine on and don’t immediately press its release nozzle. It builds a lot of pressure inside your pump, which engages a switch that can turn itself off.

Once you press the nozzle, the pressure inside the pump is released, and it disengages the switch and turns the engine on again. This repeats itself when you let go of the release button. It is a unique feature that you will find only in electric pressure washers and not in gas-powered pressure washers.

If your electric pressure washer turns on for only a couple of seconds and then suddenly shuts off, it does so to prime the pump. It automatically shuts off to wait for you to press the spray gun’s trigger. When you press the spray gun’s trigger, water starts flowing through the pump.

There is a water sensor inside the electric pressure washer that senses the water’s movement and automatically turns the engine on. You can reset this function by turning the power switch off. Now hold the trigger of the spray gun and turn the power switch of your electric pressure washer on while still holding it.  

If the engine of your electric pressure washer gets started, runs fine for a couple of minutes, and then loses power, it’s probably the unloader valve that has failed. When your electric pressure washer’s unloader valve fails, it cannot recirculate the water back to its pump inlet. This makes the pressure build up inside the pump outlet, making it very difficult for the engine of your electric pressure washer to run its pump.

Thus the engine of your electric pressure washer bogs down while struggling to run its pump. To find out if a bad unloader is making the engine of your electric pressure washer lose power again and again, you can try this test:

  • Step 1: Stop the engine.
  • Step 2: Now, remove its nozzle from its wand’s tip.
  • Step 3: If the engine of your electric pressure washer continues to work smoothly instead of losing power again and again, then you must replace your unloader valve at once.

Step 1: Preparation before repair

Before repairing your electric pressure washer, ensure all its connections are fully dry and off the wet ground. Make sure your hands and feet are dry. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and sturdy boots.

Never touch any electrical plug with your wet hands. Make sure your kids and pets are away. When you buy replacement parts to replace the damaged components of your electric pressure washer, select only the approved spare parts.

First of all, you must check its water inlet screen. It is located near the connection to the garden hose. If the water inlet screen of your electric pressure washer is dusty, clean it at once, and if it is broken, you must replace it with a new one. You can check here for water inlet screens.

If your electric pressure washer has an inline screen attached to its wand extension, check it to find out if it is clogged. Also, clean it with water regularly. You must also replace it when it gets damaged.

Now, carefully inspect and lubricate your electric pressure washer’s spray tip, gun, and wand extension. You must be sure that all the connections, especially the connection to the high-pressure hose, are safe and secure. You must also check the spray gun trigger and its lock, if they are both out of order, replace both of them at once. Check here for a spray gun trigger.

You must then carefully examine the high-pressure hose for any bulges, cracks, cuts, holes, gaps, or leaks. You must carefully and closely follow the manufacturer’s replacement instructions to replace the high-pressure hose if you find any kind of damage in it. Always buy an approved one. Check here for a high-pressure hose.

Next, very carefully check the detergent siphoning tube of your electric pressure washer. If you find it fully clogged, then clean it out properly. If the detergent system of your electric pressure washer is equipped with a filter, check it out also to learn its condition. Check here for a new Detergent Siphoning tube.

Before connecting the garden hose to your electric pressure washer, flush it out completely. Now, look at your adjustable or interchangeable nozzles, clear out the clogs if you find any. Check the O-rings in the high-pressure hose, spray gun, and water inlet of your electric pressure washer, and replace them if necessary. Check here for high-pressure O-rings.

Step 2: Check the power cable and wall plug

Check the extension cord that you use with your pressure washer. Maybe there is a loose connection or a broken cable fault. You can use another household item like a lamp to check if everything is ok. Move all cable parts to ensure no part has a broken cable fault.

If the cable is ok, check the wall plug. Make sure there is no fault when moving the cable and plug. If the pressure washer has a removable connector, check it as well.

If your machine uses a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) plug, check if it is working. They often break down. It should be okay if you get a green light on the plug and the pressure washer. Check here for a GFCI plug.

Step 3: Check the unloader valve

Your electric pressure washer’s unloader valve is the mechanism that can divert the flow of the water in your pump system into a loop as soon as you let go of the pressure washer’s trigger. The unloader valve lets the water stay under pressure when it is not flowing out of its nozzle. It will not allow the pressure to build too high inside the pump.

The structure of the unloader valve lets the water keep moving inside your pump system. The spray has a consistent pressure the next time you pull its trigger. The stalling of the engine of your electric pressure washer may be because of the bad unloader valve, which is due to the pressure inside the pump becoming greater than your engine’s power to rotate your pump.

If your electric pressure washer turns on and off, a bad unloader valve is probably why. In almost all of the latest models, it is located on the top of the electric pressure washer’s pump system. Most times, it has a black handle on top of it.

When the piston in the unloader valve fails to shift to divert the flow of the water while it is not coming out of its nozzle, the pressure inside your pump system will be allowed to develop to the point where it is dangerous, so the engine of your electric pressure washer will turn off. To solve this irritating problem, you must carefully inspect and immediately replace the old unloader valve with a new one. Check here for unloader valves.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why should I keep the adjustable or interchangeable nozzles of my electric pressure washer clean?

Clogged nozzles can increase the pump’s pressure and probably damage the pump. You must pay attention to them immediately.

2. How do I clean the clogged nozzles of my electric pressure washer?

  1. Disconnect the spray wand from its gun before cleaning the nozzles.
  2. Clean the nozzle with a little hard piece of wire, like a paper clip.
  3. Flush them rearwards using water.
  4. Reconnect its wand to its gun.
  5. Restart your electric pressure washer.
  6. Press the trigger on the spray gun.
  7. If you find the nozzle still plugged or half plugged, you must repeat steps 1-4.
  8. If these previous procedures do not clean your nozzles, replace them with a new nozzle.

Check here for new pressure washer nozzles tips.

3. What are the important things I must consider while buying a new electric pressure washer?

The following are the important things you must always consider when buying a new electric pressure washer:

  • Adjustable wands: These will allow you to change the spray pattern and pressure without changing the nozzle tip. Make sure you pick the electric pressure washer with adjustable wands for convenient use.
  • Angled wands: Angled wands are necessary if you want to clean your gutters. Angled wands work well with extensions.
  • AMPs: You must always check the power output which is measured in AMPs.
  • Brushes: Brushes let you apply scrubbing power to the object or surface you are cleaning.
  • Corrosion and friction resistance: Pick the electric pressure washer with dual oversized radial ball bearings and forged brass head, as it resists corrosion and friction. Make sure it has a fully anodized die-cast aluminum crankcase and polished stainless steel pistons.
  • Chemical or detergent tank: Pick the electric pressure washer that has a built-in tank to add concentrated, ready-to-use degreasers or vehicle detergents to it.
  • Extension wands/spray tips: These help clean the second floor of your home and other hard to reach areas. Select the electric pressure washer compatible with these accessories if you intend to clean your attic or roof.
  • Thermal relief/unloaders: It helps reduce the heat buildup and cool down the washer. Make sure you select an electric pressure washer with a reliable unloader, as it increases the lifespan of the pump and the engine.
  • Surface cleaners: Surface cleaners are spinning jets. They are necessary to clean driveways and sidewalks.
  • Pump Type: There are three types of pumps in an electric pressure washer:
    i) Wobble plate pump: Lifespan= four hundred hours or three years.
    ii) Swashplate pump (Axial cam): Lifespan= Eight hundred hours.
    iii) Triplex Plunger Pump: Lifespan= Eight thousand hours.
    Choose the electric pressure washer that best suits your budget, energy costs and requirements. Calculate the Cleaning Units (CU) by multiplying the PSI (pounds per square inch) times the GPM (gallons per minute).
    PSI x GPM = CU 

4. How many types of commercial pressure washers are there?

There are seven types of commercial pressure washers:

  1. Electric commercial pressure washer: An electric pressure washer is used for brightening wood, cleaning siding, removing stains, stripping paint, purifying meat-packing factories, and washing vehicles. There are two types of motors in different electric pressure washers: i) brush or universal motors and ii) brushless or induction motors. Brush or universal motors are inexpensive and are found in small, hand-held washers.

    Brushless or induction motors are long-lasting and are used in larger and more powerful washers. The advantages of an electric pressure washer are that it never produces any emissions and is healthy for indoor use. It is a lot quieter and portable.

    It starts with the flip of a switch. Electric pressure washers are further categorized into:
    i) Coldwater washers.
    ii) Hot water washers
    iii) Handheld washers.
    iv) Vehicle-mounted washers.
    v) Wall-mounted washers.
  2. Gas commercial pressure washer: This is used for cleaning agricultural equipment and the removal of graffiti. The length of the cord does not limit you, so it gives you the mobility you need. Some gas pressure washers have a manual pull-up start, while others have a push-button electric starter.
  3. Direct Drive Pressure washer: It is connected with a hollow shaft to the engine drive shaft. It means the pump runs at the same speed as the engine. The pump is located near the hot engine.
    Due to the simplicity of the connection between the pump and its motor, a direct-drive pressure washer is inexpensive.
  4. Belt drive pressure washer: It is connected via belts and pulleys to the engine drive shaft. It allows the pump to turn at one-third the speed as the direct drive pump. The pump sits farther away from the hot engine and runs cooler, this increases its lifespan.
  5. Diesel pressure washer: It depends upon diesel as its fuel. It is perfect for medium and heavy-duty work. It is suitable only for outdoor cleaning tasks.
  6. Petrol pressure washer: It depends on petrol as a fuel to power the pump. It is available in different sizes. It is good for outdoor use only.
  7. Hydraulic pressure washer: This is perfect for farms and agricultural industries. It is best for remote areas without electric power output. It gives out no fumes or emissions.
    It is lightweight, compact in design, and noiseless.

5. Why is nozzle size so important?

The positive displacement pumps are not alone, the creators of the pressure. The restriction or the nozzle is the source of trying to limit the water flow, thus causing the pump to develop the proper pressure in this system. Imagine you are watering your lawn with a garden hose with nothing at the end of that hose. Check here for pressure washer nozzles tips.

If you want to water further away from you, you then put your thumb over the end of the hose. The pressure builds up in your hose, and you can water the grass far away from you. It is the same idea.

If you do not properly size the restriction or the nozzle to the unit, one of two things will happen; Your unit will not work properly, or the component life will become severely shortened.

Troubleshoot your electric pressure washer shutting off after a few seconds: 4 fixes

An electric pressure washer shutting off every few seconds can be a big hassle, resulting in the task taking much longer than expected. Notice that the maintenance of electric pressure washers differs from the gas-powered ones. These are 4 methods to fix the issues:

● Fix 1: Electric pressure washer shutting off repeatedly, not receiving enough water

First of all, you must make sure that the water supply is open. Your pressure washer can never operate correctly if there is no or a low water supply. Also, check the hose for kinks or tight turns, lowering the supply.

If your spray wand has twists, turns, bends, or kinks, water cannot reach the nozzle in sufficient quantity. Troubleshooting this problem is as simple as readjusting the hose.

Sometimes the faucet is leaking, and the garden hose is not getting enough water to your pressure washer. If you fix it, you will notice a prominent change in the water spray.

● Fix 2: Electric pressure washer shutting off repeatedly, a water leakage

You will not get the desired results when your pressure washer is not producing the pressure required to carry out the task properly. If you leave the connections loose, there will be water leakage.

Re-tighten all the connections, and check for any water leaking. If you notice water leaking, replace the o-rings, and check if this solves the issue. In some cases, the hose can also have a leak and must be replaced.

● Fix 3: Electric pressure washer shutting off repeatedly, machine cycling

The motor of the electric pressure washer will keep shutting off and then start again within a few seconds if you don’t pull the gun’s trigger instantly when the pressure develops. This process is called machine cycling, which is specific to electric pressure washers alone and is not available on gas-powered pressure washers as they have no pressure switch.

As soon as you connect the power washer to the water supply and turn on the faucet, within a few seconds after the motor starts running, a lot of pressure will develop inside the machine.

There is only a tiny amount of pressure that the machine can hold without releasing it. After reaching this pre-specified pressure, it will switch the motor off to protect the pump. The solution is to pull the trigger and keep it pressed, so the motor starts running again and develops pressure.

● Fix 4: Electric pressure washer shutting off repeatedly, minimum GPM

Each brand and model has its own specific requirements, such as the minimum water supply. Those will be mentioned in detail in the company’s manual. If your water supply is lower than the minimum needed, this can lead to the pressure washer shutting off repeatedly.

Check if your tab does supply enough water. Use a thicker hose leading to your pressure washer if this is the case. If the tap itself does not supply enough, use a different tap.


To conclude this blog post, I would say that you can easily troubleshoot your electric pressure washer turning on and off by carefully following the simple and comprehensive guide given above. Observe the safety measures given in the user manual.

Checking the Fuel Cap Vent

To ensure your pressure washer operates at its peak, it is crucial to check the fuel cap vent for any clogs regularly. These blockages can lead to engine failure or stalls, creating a frustrating experience for users.

According to the US Department of Energy, the vent supports airflow to the engine, which is crucial for combustion. Always remember that ensuring your vent is clean and clear can help maintain your pressure washer’s performance.

• Importance of a Clean Fuel Filter

Much like the fuel cap vent, the fuel filter can also become clogged. This can result in your pressure washer starting and subsequently stopping – a clear symptom of inconsistent fuel supply. Filters should be checked routinely and, if required, cleaned or even replaced.

• Air Filters: A Key to Smooth Operation

The role of air filters cannot be understated. They sustain the air supply to the engine, abetting the combustion process, leading to better engine performance.

When these filters are dirty, they can hinder the airflow, leading your engine to stall. Therefore, these filters must be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.

• Cleaning the Spark Arrestor

Engine function is as dependent on the Spark Arrestor as it is on the fuel or air filter. Why? The spark arrestor helps control the emission of sparks from the engine, preventing potential fires.

After long-term usage, this arrestor can become clogged with soot. If not cleaned properly and often, the soot can lead to potential engine issues.

A wire brush is a recommended tool to clean the spark arrestor. Regularly following this cleaning routine can help in preventing any severe engine problems.

• Fuel Quality Matters

Apart from checking and cleaning various parts of your pressure washer, it is equally important to pay attention to the fuel quality and stabilization. Always use fresh fuel and add a fuel stabilizer if necessary. This not only improves performance but also prevents future carburetor clogs, prolonging the life of your pressure washer.

• Carburetor Repair Kit: A Handy Solution

Sometimes, simply cleaning the carburetor doesn’t solve the problem. If you ever find yourself in that situation, consider using a Carburetor Repair Kit. It comes with all the essential parts and instructions needed to fix your carburetor, making it a quick, reliable, and cost-effective solution.

Remember, your pressure washer is a delicate machine that requires great care and maintenance for it to function efficiently. Always ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult with a qualified technician if in doubt.

In conclusion, the secret to having a well-performing pressure washer for years to come is to prioritize its care and maintenance. Implementing these recommendations can help reduce the number of potential issues, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

• Essential Safety Measures

Always remember safety first. Upon starting the repair process, ensuring you have sturdy boots and rubber gloves is a must. Such measures provide an extra layer of safety from any unintentional accidents in the process.

– Dry Surface Verification

Before kick-starting any electric pressure washer repair, always make sure you’re working on a dry surface. Simultaneously, ensure all connections are void of any moisture, safeguarding against electric failures.

– Inspection of Water Inlet Screen

Check the water inlet screen near the garden hose connection. If it’s dirty or damaged, clean or replace it. This step is crucial to prevent debris from entering the pressure washer.

– Maintaining the Inline Screen

The inline screen, attached to the wand extension, could get clogged. Regular cleaning prevents such scenarios and provides smooth operations.

– Lubrication for Smooth Operation

Keep the spray tip, gun, and wand extension well-lubricated. This simple step ensures all parts move smoothly, significantly reducing operational hitches.

– Connection Checks

Checking the security and working condition of all connections, from the high-pressure hose to the spray gun trigger, is highly essential. Loose or damaged connections can hinder the functioning of the pressure washer.

– High-pressure hose Inspection

Examine the high-pressure hose for damages such as bulges, cracks, or leaks. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions if replacements are necessary. Here is a link that offers more elaboration on this process.

– Detergent System Inspection

Address clogs in the detergent siphoning tube in a timely and inspect the detergent system’s filter for replacements if needed.

– Garden Hose Maintenance

Remember to flush out the garden hose, removing any debris before connecting it to the pressure washer.

– Nozzles’ Maintenance

Regular checks on the adjustable or interchangeable nozzles are required. Clean clogs and keep them functional for optimal performance.

– O-Ring Inspection

Examine the O-rings in the high-pressure hose, spray gun, and water inlet periodically. Replacements, if necessary, can prevent future issues.

– Power Cable And Wall Plug Condition

A simple verification of the power cable and wall plug for loose connections or cable faults can prevent power failures. You can use other household items to test if they function correctly.

– Inspection of Unloader Valve

The unloader valve is a critical component. If it is not diverting water flow correctly, it should be replaced.

– Prioritize Safety

Prioritize safety by ensuring that all repairs are according to the user manual and using approved replacement parts.

– Spark Plug Maintenance

A dirty or damaged spark plug might hinder the machine’s performance. Regular cleaning and eventual replacement can prevent such issues.

– Ignition Coil Inspection

A quick checkup on the ignition coil is necessary to ensure it’s without any faults. If problems are unrepairable, replace them.

– Fuel Cap Inspection

The fuel cap and the O-ring seal must be intact and not let excessive air into the fuel tank. Regular inspection helps maintain fuel quality.

– Fuel Cap Vent Maintenance

Check the vent in the fuel cap for any blockages. If you find any, cleaning is recommended.

– Fuel Filter Check.

Examine the fuel filter for debris or damage and clean or replace it if it’s necessary.

– Air Filter Maintenance

Regular checks and cleaning or replacement of the air filter, if found with dirt or debris, prevent a decrease in performance.

– Carburetor Condition

Clean or replace parts of the carburetor, if necessary, with a carburetor repair kit to ensure the proper fuel-air mixture in the pressure washer.

– Fuel Pump’s Pressure

Test the fuel pump’s pressure and replace it if it does not fall within the recommended range.

– Maintenance of Spark Arrestor

Clean and reattach the spark arrestor if found dirty or damaged.

– Unloader Valve Cleaning

Regular cleanups of the unloader valve are recommended to ensure optimal performance.

• Examination of Flywheel Key

Check the flywheel key for any damage. If found broken, a replacement is recommended for optimal machine performance.

• Regular Cleanups

Regular cleaning and maintaining the various parts of the pressure washer can prevent further complications. Replacements of worn or damaged parts when required ensure a long life for the pressure washer.

By following these recommendations, one can ensure the pressure washer operates optimally while guaranteeing a long machine life.

Additionally, remember that for any severe issues that you are unsure of, consulting a professional is always best. After all, keeping the pressure washer in the best condition allows for efficient and smooth operation.