Is it Bad to Leave a Pressure Washer Running?


It can generally go without saying that pressure washers are an investment as the machines themselves will often cost hundreds of dollars. Because of this, it would make sense that you want to keep it in the best condition possible.

How long can i leave my pressure washer running?

One thing that you will want to keep in mind when you are taking care of a pressure washer is the fact that you should not leave the pressure washer running for more than five minutes at a time even if you aren’t necessarily using water.

This is because whether or not you are using water in the pressure washer, leaving it running will cause the temperature inside it to rise and put the pump at risk of damage.

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A pressure washer is delicate

As sophisticated and as useful as pressure washers can be, they are still relatively delicate. It is important for you to make sure that you treat it properly and this includes making sure that you do not leave the pressure washer running idly for more than a few minutes at a time while you add detergent or adjust any cords that may be connected to the washer.

If you are worried about the idea of taking time to clear off a large swath of property, you can rest assured knowing that there are ways to get around the fact that pressure washers cannot be left running for more than a little bit at a time. After all, if people are able to keep their pressure washers in good working condition for decades at a time, then there’s a good chance that you will be able to do so as well as long as you properly care for the pressure washer.

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The Problem with Letting a Pressure Washer Idle

Pressure washers are designed to work for lengthy periods of time when you are cleaning off a surface. The real problem comes in when you leave the pressure washer to idle, not necessarily pushing water through the system. Most pressure washers will have a trigger in one form or another that you can pull. This trigger is what allows the water to pass through the system so that you can effectively clean surfaces.

When the trigger is pulled and water is moving throughout the system, there are mechanisms in place that ensure that the constant flow of water helps to actually keep the machine cooled down on the inside. When you release the trigger and stop the flow of water, this doesn’t stop the engine from running.

This is what can happen if you leave it one for too long

Instead of the engine turning off, the engine will continue to idle with not as many cooling mechanisms in place to keep the system cool. This will cause the overall temperature of the pressure washer to rise and this increase of internal heat can lead to damage of the pumps and other more sensitive components of the pressure washer that will be expensive to replace.

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Not only will there be immediate damage to the pump but there are long-term effects that will come into play if you repeatedly leave your pressure washer to idle. This includes the o-rings becoming damaged and there being a higher chance of those rings tearing. The water seals will also fall into this same category. Valves and other components of the pressure washer may even physically warp and change shape under the heat of the idling engine.

These are just a few of the damages that can come from letting your pressure washer idle for more than about three to five minutes at a time. In an optimal situation, you should turn the pressure washer off whenever you are done using it or when you are not going to be running the water through it for any more than a few minutes.

However, a pressure washer can typically handle about one to three minutes of idling with the engine on, even if there is no water running through it, before the physical damages relating to the heat of an idling engine will come into play. Depending on the make and model of the pressure washer, it may be able to last up to five minutes but this is not something that you should gamble on. Instead, you should opt to take care of your pressure washer.

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More questions about pressure washers answered

What About Using the Pressure Washer While Cleaning?

Because pressure washers are designed for cleaning and are designed to be used for cleaning for lengthy periods of time, they have mechanisms in place to keep themselves from overheating during regular use. With that being said, you should always go by the manufacturer’s recommendations on how long you should use a pressure washer at a time.

How Long Can a Pressure Washer Safely Idle?

While it is not recommended to leave your pressure washer to idle for any length of time, between one and three minutes while you are making adjustments or clearing off the space you are cleaning will be just fine for your pressure washer.

Can You Protect the Pressure Washer From Thermal Damage?

There are some precautions that you can take to try to minimize just how much damage your pressure washer will incur if it is exposed to thermal damage. One of these methods would be to have a thermal valve installed, which will automatically open up if the internal temperature inside of the pump reaches too high of a temperature.

Is it bad to leave a pressure washer running?

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