Why is my Pressure Washer Surging

If you own a pressure washer, you know how satisfying it is to see grime and dirt disappear with just one sweep of the wand. But when your machine starts surging, it can be frustrating and confusing. Why is it happening? What can you do to fix it? These are questions that you need answers to, and that’s exactly what we’ll be exploring in this blog.

Pressure washer surging can be caused by debris in the water inlet, a damaged unloader valve, or a worn-out pump. Inspect these parts and replace or clean them as needed to fix the issue.

We’ll dive into the reasons why pressure washers surge and provide you with the solutions you need to get back to cleaning with ease.

Reasons for Surging in Pressure Washers

Reasons for Surging in Pressure Washers

Following are some of the common reasons for surging in pressure washers and what you can do to resolve them.

Air Leakage

Air leakage is a common reason for pressure washer surging. This can happen if there are any cracks or leaks in the pressure washer’s hose, wand, or fittings. It can also occur if the O-rings or gaskets are damaged or worn out.

When air leaks into the system, it can cause the pressure to drop and the machine to surge. Regularly check for any air leaks and replace any damaged or worn out parts to ensure smooth and consistent operation of your pressure washer.

Dirty Fuel Filter

A dirty fuel filter can cause surging in pressure washers. When the fuel filter becomes clogged with debris, it restricts the flow of fuel to the engine, which can cause the engine to surge. The surging may occur when the engine is idling or when it’s under load.

Cleaning or replacing the fuel filter can solve this issue. Regularly maintain the fuel filter to prevent it from becoming clogged and causing surging in the future.

Carburetor Problems

Carburetor problems are one of the common reasons why pressure washers surge. The carburetor is responsible for mixing fuel and air to create a combustible mixture, which powers the engine. If the carburetor is dirty or clogged, it can lead to surging or erratic engine performance.

A damaged carburetor can cause the engine to surge due to incorrect fuel-air mixture. To fix this issue, the carburetor needs to be cleaned or replaced. Regularly maintain the carburetor and keep it clean to prevent surging in the future.

Water Flow Issues

Water flow issues can cause surging in pressure washers. These issues can be caused by clogged or damaged nozzles, hoses, or water inlet screens. Regularly inspect and clean these components to ensure proper water flow and prevent surging.

Another cause of water flow issues can be low water pressure from the source, which can be addressed by increasing the water supply or using a pressure regulator.

A malfunctioning unloader valve can also cause surging by restricting water flow. Proper maintenance and regular inspection can help prevent and address water flow issues in pressure washers.

Engine Issues

The engine is one of the main components of a pressure washer, and if it is not functioning properly, it can cause surging. There are several engine-related issues that can lead to surging, such as clogged fuel filters, dirty carburetors, and faulty spark plugs.

Regularly maintain and inspect your pressure washer’s engine to avoid surging and ensure it’s running smoothly. If you’re unsure about how to troubleshoot engine issues on your pressure washer, it’s best to seek help from a professional.

Troubleshooting Surging in Pressure Washers

Troubleshooting Surging in Pressure Washers

Troubleshooting surging in pressure washers can be challenging, but understanding the common causes can help you identify and fix the problem quickly. Here are the reasons why pressure washers surge and provide tips on how to troubleshoot and fix this issue.

Inspect for air leakage

Inspecting for air leakage is an important step in troubleshooting surging in pressure washers. Air leakage can cause a decrease in pressure, leading to surging.

Common areas to check for air leakage include the high-pressure hose, spray gun, and connections between the pump and engine. Properly sealing any leaks can help resolve the surging issue and improve the overall performance of the pressure washer.

Check the fuel filter

Checking the fuel filter is an essential troubleshooting step when dealing with surging in pressure washers. A clogged or dirty fuel filter can restrict fuel flow, causing surging, and it should be replaced if necessary. It is recommended to clean or replace the fuel filter regularly to ensure proper functioning of the pressure washer.

Inspect the carburetor

When troubleshooting surging in pressure washers, inspect the carburetor. The carburetor is responsible for mixing air and fuel in the correct ratio for the engine to run smoothly. A clogged or dirty carburetor can cause surging, as can a carburetor that’s not properly adjusted.

To inspect the carburetor, remove it from the engine and clean it thoroughly with carburetor cleaner. Check the jets and passages for any blockages and replace any damaged or worn components. Reassemble the carburetor and adjust it to the proper settings before reinstalling it on the engine.

Inspect the water flow

When troubleshooting surging in pressure washers, it’s essential to inspect the water flow. A lack of water flow can cause the pressure washer to surge as the pump is starved for water. To inspect the water flow, ensure that the water source is turned on and supplying enough water to the pressure washer.

Also, check for any kinks or blockages in the hose or wand that could be restricting water flow. If necessary, clean or replace any clogged filters or nozzles that could be reducing water flow. Adequate water flow is critical to ensure the proper operation of a pressure washer and prevent surging.

Inspect the engine

When troubleshooting surging in pressure washers, inspect the engine. The engine is responsible for powering the pump and generating the necessary pressure to clean surfaces effectively. A surging engine could indicate a problem with the fuel system, such as a clogged fuel filter or a damaged carburetor.

It could also be due to an issue with the spark plug or air filter. It is essential to check these components thoroughly and clean or replace them as needed to ensure that the engine is running smoothly and providing consistent power to the pressure washer.

Preventing Surging in Pressure Washers

Preventing Surging in Pressure Washers

Here are some of the common causes of pressure washer surging and provide you with tips on how to prevent it from happening. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your pressure washer works smoothly and safely every time you use it.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is a crucial factor in preventing surging in pressure washers. It involves inspecting and cleaning the inlet screen, checking the spark plug, changing the air filter, and using high-quality fuel. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to surging and other issues in the pressure washer.

It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and schedule routine servicing to ensure optimal performance and longevity of the equipment.

Proper Storage

Proper storage of a pressure washer is important to prevent surging issues. When storing a pressure washer, it’s essential to drain all water from the system, including hoses and nozzles. Any leftover water can cause the pump to corrode, leading to surging problems.

In addition, it’s crucial to store the pressure washer in a dry and clean area to avoid dirt, debris, and moisture buildup. This buildup can clog the pump, causing it to surge during use.

It’s also recommended to use fuel stabilizer in the gas tank if the pressure washer will be stored for an extended period. This will help prevent the gas from going stale and potentially damaging the engine, causing surging issues.

By properly storing a pressure washer, you can avoid surging problems and extend the life of your machine.

Correct Use

Correct use of a pressure washer is essential in preventing surging. Ensure that the pressure washer is always operated at the correct pressure setting for the task at hand. Using a nozzle that is too small for the pressure washer can cause surging, as can using a nozzle that is worn or damaged.

Use the correct detergent for the job, as using the wrong detergent can cause surging or damage to the pressure washer. Ensuring that the water supply is consistent and free from debris can help prevent surging.

Finally, taking proper care of the pressure washer by regularly cleaning and maintaining it can help prevent surging and prolong its lifespan.


In conclusion, we have explored the topic of pressure washer surging and its causes in detail. Surging can be frustrating and even damaging to your pressure washer if left unchecked. We have discussed how issues with the unloader valve, inlet valve, and water supply can all contribute to surging.

However, the good news is that most cases of surging can be prevented with proper maintenance. Regularly cleaning the inlet valve, inspecting the unloader valve, and ensuring a steady water supply can all go a long way in preventing surging.

In addition to preventing surging, proper maintenance can also extend the lifespan of your pressure washer and improve its overall performance. So, don’t neglect the importance of regular maintenance and take care of your pressure washer to avoid surging.

In conclusion, surging is a common issue with pressure washers, but it can be prevented through proper maintenance. By taking care of your pressure washer and addressing any issues promptly, you can ensure a smooth and efficient cleaning experience.

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Andrew Joseph
Andrew Joseph

Introducing Andrew Joseph, a pressure washing expert with 15 years of experience in residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Andrew shares his vast knowledge through insightful blog posts, offering valuable tips and best practices for optimal cleaning results. His passion for educating others, combined with his extensive expertise, makes Andrew an indispensable resource for those looking to master the art of pressure washing.