Why Does My Electric Pressure Washer Keep Cutting Out?

By Power Tools

March 4, 2021

A pressure washer allows you to clean a large surface area within a minimal amount of time. From wooden decking to concrete surfaces, it can be used for a range of applications and is an addition found inside the homes of many.

A troublesome pressure washer that repeatedly cuts out when you are using it can be very inconvenient and time-consuming. Instead of allowing you to clean the surface within a minimal amount of time, you will likely be left fiddling with the different components in an attempt to encourage it to function again.

Your pressure washer must be in optimal working condition for it to be effective in its purpose. If you are frequently confronted with one that cuts out more than it operates, do not worry as we have identified some possible causes of this issue below. 

Alongside this, we have identified some potential rectifications and ways that you can prevent them from occurring in the future.

Unlike gas-powered variations, an electric pressure washer does not run off oil or fuel but instead, uses air to function. If it regularly runs out, it may be because there is a blockage of some kind in the air filter. Because of this, the engine isn’t receiving a sufficient amount of air and this causes it to cut out.

Electric pressure washers come with an automatic water sensor that controls the functioning of the motor in response to the water movement. If it doesn’t detect any water moving, then it is likely to refrain from operating.

It may also be an issue concerning a failed unloader valve, and this is likely to be the case if the pressure washer works for a couple of minutes and then suddenly shuts off. A failed unloader valve prevents the water from circulating back to the pump outlet, hence why the engine will turn off unexpectedly.

To check whether there is a problem with the unloader valve you can turn the engine off and remove the nozzle from the tip of the wand. Once you have done so, you will be able to see if it is this component that is the issue. If the engine continues to function smoothly instead of losing power, the unloader valve will require immediate replacement.

Another issue may be related to the pressure wash cycle. A pressure washer operates via a cycle and when the nozzle isn’t engaged correctly it is going to turn itself on and off automatically. This is because the pressure will build up inside the tank rather than being dispersed onto the ground and as a result, it will engage the switch that turns the unit off automatically.

Pressing the nozzle is going to release the pressure and this interaction will encourage the pressure switch to disengage and the pump will proceed to function again.

While some may find this slightly annoying, it is a feature that is boasted by electric pressure washers and a process that will occur repeatedly when the release button is let go.

How to prevent your electric pressure washer from cutting out repeatedly

Before checking the pressure washer you must ensure that your hands and the connections are dry and positioned away from a wet surface. Also, put on a pair of rubber gloves before touching any of the components.

Touching the electrical plug with wet hands can be dangerous so you should always ensure that you refrain from doing so. Also, ensure that the pressure washer is disconnected from the power outlet as this will help to avoid unwanted accidents.

Once you are prepared, you can begin to inspect the different elements. First, you can check the air filter, if it is clogged it is going to cause the pressure to build up inside.

Ensure that the matter which is causing it to clog is removed accordingly. If this doesn’t appear to be the issue, you may wish to progress to the next possible solution.

It is worth checking the water inlet screen. The positioning of this screen can differ depending on the model. If it is situated near the connection of the hose, assess whether it is dusty or broken and respond appropriately by either cleaning this connection or replacing it. On other models, it may be near the wand extension. If this is the case you must check whether it is clogged and if so you must wash it to eradicate this issue.

If this doesn’t seem to be the problem, it is worth checking the unloader valve as we have mentioned previously. If this component is defective it is likely to be the main cause as to why your pressure washer is cutting out. A problematic unloader valve will prevent the piston from moving in time to divert the flow of water when it isn’t coming out of the nozzle.

As a result, the pressure will build inside the pump causing the engine to either function or stop functioning suddenly. To prevent this issue from affecting the functionality of the pressure washer, you will likely need to invest in a new part.

If the aforementioned issues do not appear to be the cause of the problem, it is worth checking the pressure washer cable and also the extension cord if you require one when using the appliance.

It may be that there is a loose connection or one of the cables is damaged. To check whether the plug point is the issue, it is worth using other household appliances to see whether it powers them without any issues. If it does, it could be a problem with the extension cable or the pressure washer’s power cord.

Following an inspection of all of these components with no success in identifying the problem, you may resort to resetting the machine in the hope that this encourages the pressure washer to function again and also stop it from cutting out. When the unit is off, engage the spray gun trigger to encourage a steady stream of water to disperse from the unit.

Once you have done so, you can turn the machine back on. The pressure inside the pump is often prone to building up over time especially when you forget to press the release nozzle and this is often why the unit will shut off suddenly. A simple solution to this issue is to ensure that you remember to press the release nozzle.

Final Thoughts

A pressure washer that persistently cuts out can be very annoying and as you can see there are many reasons as to why this issue may be occurring.

Carefully and safely inspecting the components and connections will allow you to eliminate any issues and identify the ones that are causing the problem. Once you have done so, you can then respond accordingly.