How to Start a Pressure Washer – Gas & Electric Explained

Published by: | Updated: July 1, 2023
JCS Refresh How To Start A Pressure Washer

We understand the hype over pressure washers, electric or gas, because who doesn’t like refreshing their dirty old-looking patio into almost brand new?

However, pressure washers can be a handful if you don’t know how to use them properly.

One of the most important steps is learning how to start a pressure washer, no matter the conditions or model.

In this article, we’ll cover just that- an in-depth, ultimate guide with tips and tricks to properly starting any pressure washer.

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About The Author

Meet the expert behind this article. 



Co-owner & Service Director

Hey there, I’m Cody. 

A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you. 

Reading from Washington State?

We pressure wash Seattle and neighboring cities like Snohomish

Visit our pricing page for specials and bundle packages.

Quick answer

Beginner or not, you can apply these pointers to have your pressure washer up and running in no time! 

Since there are two types of pressure washers: electric and gas, we’ll touch on each: 

How to start an electric pressure washer:

  1. Start with a clean inlet filter.
  2. Attach the necessary hoses to the pump. (e.g., garden hose, high-pressure hose)
  3. Attach the right nozzle for the task.
  4. Turn on the water after connecting the hoses. 
  5. Pull the trigger to release all of the air and only let the water run out of it.
  6. Plug into an outlet.
  7. Turn on the machine.

How to start a gas pressure washer:

  1. Start with a clean filter.
  2. Attach the necessary hoses to the pump. (e.g., garden hose, high-pressure hose)
  3. Attach the right nozzle for the task.
  4. Turn on the water.
  5. Pull the trigger to release the pressure and only let the water run out of it.
  6. Check the fuel and oil levels.
  7. Turn all the necessary switches to the “On” or “Open” position.
  8. Switch the machine to the “On” position, then pull the chord.
  9. Turn the choke to the “Off” or “Close” position.

Whatever machine you use, the method applied is very similar. 

The difference is that the gas pressure washers have additional steps before starting.

Tips & tricks beforehand

To operate a pressure washer safely (and quickly), check out the tips and tricks below: 

Familiarize yourself with the machine

This is the first thing everyone must do. 

Reading or skimming through the manual and familiarizing yourself with parts of the machine is vital for the whole procedure (e.g., utilization, storing, maintenance). 

In general, it’s always a good idea to understand how your pressure washer works

Place the pressure washer on a stable surface 

Ensure the pressure washer sits on a stable, flat surface to avoid tipping over or moving.

Remove all loose items or debris around you

For a smoother experience, remove all the unnecessary items or debris in the surrounding area.

How to start an electric pressure washer

Electric pressure washers are user-friendly but always proceed with caution. 

Check out these easy steps you can follow:

1. Attach the necessary hoses

Link the water inlet hose to the water supply and the other end to the machine. 

Then, attach the high-pressure hose to the water outlet of the pressure washer and the other end to the gun assembly.

Ensure that the collar snaps once you connect the hose at the bottom of the gun assembly.

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2. Choose the appropriate nozzle for your needs 

Pull back the collar at the end of the gun and carefully attach the nozzle, then release the collar. 

Each pressure washer nozzle has its purpose; you can identify it with its respective colors.

There are four basic types of pressure washer nozzles available: 0°, 15°, 25°, 40° plus a black nozzle for soap.

  • Red 0° Nozzle – advisable for elevated surfaces since it provides the highest pressure, also commonly used to eradicate solid stains from concrete and metal. 
  • Yellow 15° Nozzle – works wonders on mildew and mold from PVC fences.
  • Green 25° Nozzle – also called an all-around nozzle; perfect for decks, cleaning driveways, patios, or sidewalks. 
  • White 40° Nozzle – fit for cars, windows, or fragile areas. It provides a wide spray pattern that will be less likely to do damage. 
  • Black Nozzle – this tip is utilized when using soap or detergent at low pressure.
JCS Refresh How To Start A Pressure Washer Nozzle Chart

3. Flush out the air from the pressure washer system

Before turning on the motor, remember to clear any air from the machine. 

From here, turn on the water first, point the gun downwards, and pull the trigger until only the water is flowing.

4. Plug the machine into a grounded outlet

The outlet should be in a safe area, far from or covered from the cleaning activity.

5. Turn the machine on and clean away

How to start a gas pressure washer

Gas pressure washers are typically a bit more involved than electric pressure washers.

Here’s what you need to know about starting one.

1. Monitor fuel and oil levels

When checking the oil level, the fuel valve should be “Closed” or “Off.” 

Next, pull the dipstick, give it a good wipe, then dip it back. The oil level should be on the indication line. This doesn’t need to be done every time, but is a good habit to form. 

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2. Turn “on” everything 

Follow the correct order of turning the switches:

  1. First, turn the fuel valve “On” or “Open” position. 
  2. Next, turn the choke to the “On” or “Open” position.
  3. Finally, turn the throttle to the “Full Speed” Or “Max” position.

3. Flush out the air from the pressure washer system

4. Pull the chord to start the engine

The recoil usually doesn’t start in one pull, so you can do it a few times before it starts.

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5. Turn the choke to the “Off” or “Close” position.

6. Get to work 💪

Safety considerations

Pressure washers can be your best friend; however, it comes with a risk. 

Take note of the safety considerations below to protect yourself and the people around you.

Familiarize yourself with the machine

As mentioned above, getting accustomed to the machine, the parts, how it works, and how to maintain it is best. Doing so can prevent any damage or accidents.

Don’t be careless

Always carefully handle the pressure washer because one wrong move can cause harm to your body. Never point the gun at anybody (duh).

Wear safety equipment

You can avoid various severe or minor injuries with the proper safety equipment. Wear your safety goggles, boots, gloves, ear protection, and pants.

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Secure the fragile areas

Pressure washers are powerful tools that can sometimes blast things you didn’t intend to clean. Before starting, cover all fragile areas, such as doors and windows, to avoid damage.

Be mindful of your surroundings

Remember that you are operating power equipment, so be on guard for kids, electrical wires, and the like.

Frequently asked questions

We’ve gathered additional questions to help you with your concerns further. Check it out:

Do you turn the water on before starting a pressure washer?

Turning the water on before starting a pressure washer is essential to avoid the risk of burning up the seals or cracking a piston in the motor. 

Can you start a pressure washer without water?

No, water is vital for pressure washers.

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Can you run a pressure washer without water?

No, the primary purpose of the water is to cool down and lubricate the pump. Without the water, the pump will continue to push harder and eventually wear down in the process. 

How long can you run a pressure washer?

Gas pressure washers can last up to 30 minutes before they need to cool down. Electric pressure washers can run for an hour or more. To learn more, we have a complete guide dedicated to explaining how long you can run a pressure washer.

Why won’t my pressure washer start?

There are various reasons why a pressure washer won’t start, including stale fuel, a clogged carburetor, a defective spark plug, too much pump pressure, and the like.


With that said, you’ve reached the end of the article; you already know how to start a pressure washer correctly. 

Don’t forget to follow those quick and easy steps carefully to avoid injuring yourself and damaging the pressure washer. 

However, if you think you can’t handle this machine, you can always seek the help of professionals. 

Thank you for reading!