Running Pressure Washer Without Water: The Most Common Mistake

Pressure washers are large devices used to remove dirt and grime from various surfaces, such as the road, vehicle bodywork, barbeque grills, and outdoor furniture. Simply put, powerful washers are large cleaning equipment that uses high pressure to remove stubborn stains from surfaces.

Running pressure washer without water? Most pressure washer owners have wondered about this. Pressure washers are expensive. As a result, you wouldn’t want to operate them in a way that may cause harm.

Read on to learn why you shouldn’t use a pressure washer without water and properly use it.

Why Shouldn’t You Run A Pressure Washer Without Water?

Although you can start a pressure washer with no water, it is not recommended. You’re taking a significant risk when you start a pressure washer without any water connected to it. 

The pressure washer’s inner workings will suffer rapid and severe damage. The pump will be the first to be destroyed, followed by other locations a few seconds later. The more times you start it dry, the more harm you’ll cause.

Your pump will work harder than it should if there isn’t any water, even if it’s only for a few seconds. This is because the pump has to pull water from the supply pipe and force it out of the nozzle. 

The pressure washer with no flow will not work. The pump is made to work when there is water flowing through it. The water lubricates the pump and keeps it cool. A dry beginning causes the pump to wear out rapidly because it lacks water’s lubricating and cooling qualities.

The motor may suffer if your pump is broken due to starting the pressure washer without water. Also, because it’s trying to operate a pump with a lot of friction, the motor will be operating under a lot of strain, which will eventually lead it to lock up or overheat.

You may go from a working pressure washer to one with a broken pump, motor, seals, gaskets, and other components in a matter of minutes.

What Should You Do After Running Pressure Washer Without Water

Because we recommend not running pressure washers dry, the next issue is: what if you do it by accident and cause damage? How do you find the damage and repair it? 

While damage to elements like the motor and pump may be apparent right away, you may need to conduct a complete diagnosis to determine the extent of the problem. We recommend that you restart the system and test it for proper operation.

When there is no water coming out of the pressure washer, this is a clear indicator of pump damage. In that scenario, the best solution is to replace the pump. Likewise, when the motor starts to sound loud or strange, it’s time to replace it.

It might be much worse, mainly if the pressure washer stops down every time you turn it on. If the motor or pump fails, check additional components.

Damage to a motor, pump, or both has a high probability of spreading to gaskets and seals. As a result, you may have to rebuild the machine completely.

Check out this video for a detailed illustration: 

How To Use A Pressure Washer Without An Outside Tap

Using A Water Bucket

One method to get pressure water running is to use a bucket of water. Unfortunately, you can’t just fill a bucket with water and then insert a hose inside to get the contents. Finally, enough pressure must be present to drive water from a bucket into the pressure washer.

However, suppose that you research before purchasing pressure washing equipment, you may find that a specific model comes with an additional optional attachment. This suction hose was created for those who want to use a bucket instead of a tap.

Place one end of the suction hose in the bucket and the other end in the pressure washer with the correct suction hose.

Can you run a pressure washer without water

Making Use Of Water Barrels Or Tanks

Your pressure washing equipment needs liters of water to function properly. As a result, using a bucket of water is not always the best option. However, if you don’t have access to an outdoor faucet, a water tank or barrel will retain all of the surplus water from your downspouts.

For example, most water barrels sold now come with a pressure washer hose adapter. Making the connection between your tank and your water hose is a breeze using this method.

Additionally, the natural pressure generated by gravity in your water barrel assists the effective circulation of the water.

Consider A Portable Option

Although most pressure washers are intended to function with an exterior tap, several other choices are available. A portable pressure washer may be the best alternative if you don’t have access to an outside tap. 

Portable power washers have their onboard water tank because they are meant to be portable.

You don’t need to connect to an outdoor tap when using a pressure washer with an integrated tank because your liquid access is already there. 


Is it possible to overheat a pressure washer?

Overheating is a possibility with a gas-powered pressure washer, although it isn’t as severe. When the wand trigger is closed, electric pressure washers immediately shut down the motor. Running your pressure washer for too long in direct sunlight on a hot day is the most common cause of overheating.

How long should you expect a pressure washer to last?

Those pumps have a lifespan of 60 to 100 hours of usage. Pumps in higher-quality pressure washers have a lifespan of 500 hours or more. Households use their water pressure washers on average for 50 hours a year, on average.


Every machine has flaws. To prevent getting into problems with pressure washers, always read the user handbook. With the help of this article and professional advice, operating these devices should be a breeze.

Back to the original question, can you start a pressure washer without water? It’s important to remember that powered washers should never be used without water. In the event of damage, seek the assistance of repair service.

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