Can You Start A Pressure Washer Without Water?

Can you start a pressure washer without water

Pressure washers are powerful machines you can use to clean grime off surfaces. The surface could be the bodies of automobiles, drive, outdoor furniture, and barbecue grills.

You will need to connect this machine to a water source to run it and start striking off stubborn stains from any surface.

But many beginners, even experienced ones, make the mistake of starting their machine but not connecting to any water source.

So can you start a pressure washer without water? Let’s read on to discover!

Can You Start A Pressure Washer Without Water?

The answer is you shouldn’t. It is risky and may even damage your pressure washer. Its pump can become overheated without water.

You shouldn’t start this machine without water

Your Unit May Get Damaged

Pressure washers require water to lubricate and cool their pumps, which are essential. These pumps are responsible for transferring water from the supply hose to the nozzle.

Due to the lack of water, the pump will not be cooled and lubricated, resulting in working harder than it should.

Due to that, this part will wear down faster than you expect. Even if you start your machine a few seconds without water, the problem can occur.

Also, the pump wasn’t the only part that suffered. Instead, your machine’s other internal parts will also wear out quickly.

For example, its motor could overheat when trying to operate the pump due to a lot of friction, causing it to fail completely.

Gaskets, seals, and other components can also fail because of these problems.

Visible damage doesn’t always happen immediately, but it will, sooner or later.

When your motor gets damaged, your machine won’t be able to work. In addition, damaged seals and gaskets will require replacement.

In some cases, buying a new machine allows you to save more money than fixing the old one. Either way, it’s still a waste of money just because you are ignorant.

You Can’t Clean Anything!

No wonder you can’t use a pressure washer without a water supply. You will soon realize this when trying to clean a surface, but no water comes out.

So if your machine fails due to improper startup, it is essential to replace or repair it as soon as possible to start over.

Read more: How To Start A Pressure Washer?

How Do Pressure Washers Work?

To understand how this machine works, you’ll need to understand its components. It includes a pump, water inlet, motor (gas or electric), gasket, hose, and cleaning parts.

This machine has a simple operating mechanism

Many people think it is a complicated machine, but it is not. This kind of machine is straightforward and makes your cleaning job much easier. It also saves time, money, and a lot of water required for proper cleaning.

Water comes from a container into the motor via a hose. Then the machine will heat the water to about 70°C before pushing it to its exit nozzle.

The motor, pump, and nozzle will increase the water pressure, resulting in strong water coming out at high speed and pressure.

If your machine doesn’t feature an electric engine, it will run on gasoline. These features a cylinder set, and a piston mounted to a pull cord, getting its momentum from the engine.

You can also find other plungers in the pump connected to a crankshaft to suck and eject the water.

Then it heads to the un-loader via a check valve. When pressing a trigger connected to the un-loader, pressurized water comes through a nozzle.

What Should You Do if You Don’t Have Water Sources Nearby?

Use Water Barrel Or A Tank

Attach one rain barrel or tank to the washer if you cannot find water sources nearby. These vessels usually feature an outlet that attaches to the water hose, which you can connect to the washer.

However, using a barrel and tank has a significant drawback: You might not have enough water to clean for more than half an hour. So if your cleaning job requires a lot of water, a pressure washer trailer is the way to go.

Use Pressure Washer Trailers

Commercial pressure washer trailers have onboard water sources that usually have a vast capacity, suitable for tougher cleaning jobs. The tank and washer sit next to each other, enabling the water to flow directly into the machine.

This kind of washer is convenient for jobs requiring more water and pressure.

Some trailers feature a fuel supply with a water supply, which is ideal for those who need hot water.

Take Advantage of the Nearby Pond or Lake

Using water from a pond or lake is possible by utilizing a hosepipe and a submersible water pump.

You will need to start by installing the submersible pump in the pond and lake to suck the water from the pond or lake into the hosepipe.

The next important thing you need to do is install a water filter. It is impossible to use lake water directly since the sediments might ruin your machine.

How to Diagnose Pressure Washers for Damage?

The obvious sign of damage to the pump is water not coming through the wand.

Signs that your machine is broken due to not using water

In this case, replacing the pump is your best bet. In cases where your motor sounds loud, replacement is also necessary.

If the pump or motor gets damaged, we recommend checking other components before replacing them.

Failure of the pump, motor, or both might spread to seals and gaskets. It can lead to the rebuilding of your whole machine.

Tips and Precautions About Taking Care of Your Washer

Tips for taking care of your washer


We recommend avoiding using a strong detergent to clean your machine, especially its internal components. Corrosion is the enemy to any moving parts of your machine.

Lubricate the Pump

It is wise to lubricate your machine’s pump regularly to avoid overheating moving parts like pressure pistons.

Water Pressure

To avoid sudden pressure drop and damage to the valves, flush the inlet pipe to remove air before turning on the machine.

Clean the Carburetor

Cleaning the carburetor regularly is recommended to get rid of obstructions. In some cases, replacement is necessary.


Using the inappropriate type of fuel will make your machine inefficient.

You do not want to ruin the machine ahead of a cleaning day. Check your user manual to make sure you’re using the right type of fuel.


What Are the Pros of Using a Washer?

No machine is perfect, and these washers are no exception.

While very effective at removing stubborn grime and stains, these machines still have a few notable drawbacks, including the following:

Amount of Water

These machines need a lot of water to operate. On average, they can use up to two liters of water per minute, which is about 120 liters of water per hour.


Pressure washers might make noise, typically ranging from 70 to 90 decibels. Therefore, wearing earplugs can be helpful while you work with these machines.


If you set up the nozzle incorrectly, this machine will blast dirt onto any unintended surface, including your costume, leading to extra cleaning.

Therefore, we recommend putting on protective clothing, preferably waterproof.


There is a risk of electric shock when using powered washers. So it is essential to ensure ground circuit breaking and proper wiring.

Can Washers Work With Little Water?

It is possible to run this machine with little water in places where there is a lack of water.

How to Find Water Supplies For Pressure Washers?

Pressure washers typically come with one big hose pipe to supply water, enabling them to take water from various mediums.

  • If you’re living near a pond or a river, or your house has one pool, getting a water supply from there is okay.
  • Attaching a different pump to the washer is okay to get water from underground.
  • Connecting a pressure washer to a tap connected to the house water supply is okay.
  • If the above solutions don’t work for you, it is alright to use a groundwater tank or rain barrel as a water supply for your machine.

How Long Do Washers Typically Last?

The lifespan of this machine should depend completely on how well it is maintained. You should clean it after use and store it in a clean, dry place.

Also, you should maintain and store gas models according to the user guides.

The Bottom Line

Just because you can start your washer without water doesn’t mean you should since the results might be catastrophic.

We recommend reading the user manual carefully to avoid unwanted trouble.

Remember never to run these machines without water. With our post and expert advice, you should be fine using them.

If your machine gets damaged, seek help from a repair service.

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