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How to Fix CRAFTSMAN Pressure Washer Problems

A collage of different uses of pressure washer.

You can trust that any style of CRAFTSMAN pressure washer is quality, with the brand’s eight decades of excellent service. The dynamic tool can quickly revive your mud-caked car and overgrown sidewalk. However, you might occasionally face slight issues, and this article covers the remedy you need.

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Both of CRAFTSMAN’s gas and electric pressure washers generally suffer from similar problems:

1. Pressure Washer Won’t Start

2. Pressure Washer Runs Poorly

3. Pressure Washer Starts Then Stalls

4. Pressure Washer Leaks

5. Soap Injector Won’t Work

6. No Pressure

Table of Contents Show

CRAFTSMAN Gas-Powered Pressure Washer

A gas powered electric washer.

CRAFTSMAN gas-powered pressure washers aren’t the company’s flagship pressure washers for no reason. Most of their gasoline line has 2,000 max psi on the lower side of power and can go upwards of 3,000 psi.

Their gas pressure washers can huff, puff, and blow away anything in their way. This means that many of us end up subscribing to these styles of pressure washers because of their incredible power and unmatched mobility.

1. Pressure Washer Won’t Start

A man tightening the nozzle of the pressure washer.

Gas pressure washers are not only handy but reliably simple, so they often become our most used tools. Besides the days we have brain farts and forget that they need gas to run, there can be many other legitimate causes of your sudden dismay.

Solution 1: Inspect Sparkplug for Faults

A defective spark plug is often one of the most common culprits for your pressure washer not working. Because of the work-horse nature of a pressure washer, carbon can build up, and the spark plug’s electrode will naturally lose effectiveness with time.

Faulty sparkplugs can foul your powerwasher, so it doesn’t start or has decreased pressure. This small part ignites the air/fuel mixture that gets your power washer going.

For a worn and torn spark plug, first, take out the spark plug and check for any cracks and inspect its insulator tip, center, and side electrode that threads into the power washer.

If the spark plug is the cause of the nonstarter, there’ll be noticeable black, dry soot on the inspected parts.

In this case, please don’t attempt to clean the spark plug, but replace it entirely. Since your spark plug should be replaced annually, you’ll want to swap it out immediately if you haven’t done so in a while without even needing to pull out a multimeter where there aren’t defect signs.

An ignition tester can rule out the spark plug in your troubleshooting.

Solution 2: Remove Carburetor-Restricting Residue

Just like muck and gunk can build up on the sparkplug, residue can accumulate from the fuel left in the fuel tank for too long.

This residue in the carburetor can discreetly become a problem for your power washer so that it won’t start. When the carburetor is the malefactor, you’ll often begin hearing strange sounds coming from your pressure washer.

Popping and sneezing noises are frequently the herald or associates of black smoke that begins coming out of the machine.

The sounds you might have been ignoring, like your “check engine light” indicator, are only trying to tell you the sad story of the fixed air/fuel ratio imbalance.

The veil of black smoke is just another hint that fuel flow issues have been brewing long, possibly resulting in more than the required amount of fuel going through the combustion chamber.

You can remove the carburetor and examine it for any considerable dirt residue. Once you locate and get to the carburetor, you can free it by undoing the bolts connecting it to the engine.

Disattach the throttle cable and chuck out old gas or save it if it isn’t old. You should also carefully look over the carburetor for any patina or rust and replace it with a kit you might even find on Amazon if your keen eye spots any corrosion.

Once your inspection is done, use a carburetor spray can and a WD-40 spray can to clean the carburetor. You can purchase a carburetor repair kit to replace components that have experienced too many tours on the battlefield or replace the entire carburetor if it has advanced wear.

Work your cleaning spray into the crevices of the carburetor using a fitting brush with plastic bristles. Since you have to go through the air filter to get to the air intake, check that this air box hasn’t accumulated too much dirt and replace it if it has.

Remove the collection bowl hanging on the carburetor and check it for dirt or sketchy residue. Spray down every metal surface and wipe it dry like a baby’s bottom before reassembling.

Even if not required, regularly replacing the air filter is generally advised for maintaining an optimally functioning power washer.

After you’ve done the arduous task of cleaning the carburetor, make sure to use fresh fuel with your pressure washer going forward. Do also use a fuel stabilizer to maintain the quality of the fuel.

Solution 3: Test Ignition Coil

The ignition coil has the vital task of transforming low voltage and sending it to the spark plug as the engine operates. If this process is interrupted, the spark plug won’t have a spark to ignite the air in the engine, and your CRAFTSMAN pressure washer won’t start.

Similarly to the spark plug, you can use an ignition tester to check if the coil component is why the pressure washer doesn’t work.

Solution 4: Replace Flywheel Key

The flywheel key is a small rectangular metal piece that slots into the side of the crankshaft and aligns it to engage with the flywheel. It’s engineered to break to help prevent damage to the engine and other more expensive components.

It will break off when the engine is forced to stop abruptly, and you won’t be able to restart it. Additionally, this small metal piece may age and be partially sheared off on its own with time, and your pressure washer might run but run like an ailed athlete in a sprint event.

Don’t fret your brow; examine this component and replace it with a new one if found defective. Before following along with the linked Youtube, you’ll want to be safe and ensure that the engine has cooled.

Then remove the High Tension (HT) cable, the sparkplug cable, and boot to curb any accidental engine starts. Remove the nuts bolting down the recoil starter. This cap’s destination varies from model to model.

Once done, remove the engine cover and disconnect the wire to the ignition coil. Remove the ignition coil if it’s in the way. Give the flywheel a rotation to move the magnets out of your way.

Secure the flywheel in place and undo its retaining nut. Remove the nut and the rest of the fan blade assembly. If you have access to a flywheel puller, use it to ease your job, and take out the flywheel and carefully set it aside.

You should now be face-to-face with the suspected party. Remove any remnants of the old flywheel key and replace it with a new one. Tap the key gently into its new home and reassemble everything back up.

Solution 5: Release Pressure or Prime Pump

When water is pumped into the water pressure much quicker than it is pressurized and let out, it can cause that pressure to accumulate in the pump assembly. This also happens if there’s no pressure relief valve to be engaged to redirect the pressurized water.

Without a way out, pressure will only continue building.

When this is the case, you’ll often encounter resistance and have trouble pulling the starter pull cord to get your pressure washer going.

Priming, removing air from the pump and assembly, might also be the cause of your troubles. An adequately primed machine will also allow water to flow through the system.

This is a relatively easy endeavor; give pointing the spray gun away from yourself a try, and then pull the trigger to allow the pressure to escape. After that, also give a shot at pressing down and holding the trigger while pulling on the starter cord.

As the priming process can sometimes prove tricky and be model-specific, play it safe and check your pressure washer owner’s manual. There should be steps to prime your machine in there.

2. Pressure Washer Runs Poorly

A man cleaning an old stairs using a pressure washer.

Another common issue people face with pressure washers is having them start but pulsate, give inconsistent water pressure, and generally run rough. The power device might start and run for a while and then stop. This easily fixable diagnostic shouldn’t worry you too much.

However, if this issue is part of an ongoing slue of problems, you might want to do a complete tune-up to examine the heart of your pressure washer closely.

Solution 1: Run Throttle Diagnostics and General Maintenance

Before further diagnostic, you’ll need to ensure the engine runs at full throttle with its choke positioned correctly. Carry out general maintenance and check for debris and dirt buildup in the inlet and outlet valves.

Remember to give these a rinse after at least every four runs to help prevent dirt accumulation. Also, ensure that the pump receives the required minimum flow rate from your water source.

These general solutions to your CRAFTSMAN pressure washer running rough might help you avoid running a more in-depth diagnostic. However, if none of these and the following specific solutions resolve the issues, you might have a mechanical fault that requires a professional.

Also, replace anything that appears rusted or worn, even if you suspect it may not be the primary cause of your bewilderment.

Solution 2: Unclog Carburetor

When you let fuel stay in the engine for too long, some key ingredients of the fuel evaporate and leave a thick and sticky substance behind. This sticky remnant of fuel long gone can scum up the carburetor and result in your pressure washer running rough.

Additionally, if your pressure washer begins presenting sneezing and popping sounds and possibly letting out black smoke, along with the shakes you’re trying to address, then definitely suspect the carburetor.

Get access to the carburetor and give it a good exorcising with a carburetor cleaner. Make sure to disarm the sparkplug cap and switch off the fuel valve. Locate your carburetor using your user’s manual if you aren’t familiar with your current unit model.

Since the carburetor is presented shy, it may be hiding its wanted self underneath and behind the throttle cover, filter box, and intake, which you’ll have first to take out. Remember the fuel lines feeding into the fuel tank from the carburetor and use them to empty the old gas.

If purging the suspected party doesn’t work, you might need to rebuild the carburetor using a carburetor repair kit or completely overhaul the whole thing.

Also, use fresh fuel when refueling and fuel stabilizer to help mitigate the problem from re-occurring.

Solution 3: Free Fuel Cap Obstruction

Many folks might’ve missed the small air vent on the fuel cap. This small vent is used to free the pressure in the gas tank that naturally grows as the fuel is used up.

As the subtle vent allows some air to control pressure from rising too much, it can’t do its job if blocked. You’ll begin noticing your machine stall, stammer, or poorly run.

Fortunately, this is perhaps one of the most straightforward fixes, as all you need to do to verify your guess is to slightly loosen the fuel cap and start your unit’s engine. If this was your bingo problem, your engine should immediately begin running smoothly.

If your fuel cap vent is obstructed, replace the gas cap.

Solution 4: Clean Fuel Filter

A fuel filter on a white background.

Another result of letting fuel stew in your pressure washer for too long is a choked fuel filter. The grimy and unsavory bits of fuel left can go on to plug the fuel filter and leave you with rough-sounding and haggard running power equipment.

A blocked fuel filter can allow debris and dirt into the fuel and clog the carburetor.

As there aren’t many other ways to verify a clogged fuel filter, you’ll want to drain the old filter and examine that old substance for any gunk. If you find dirt and any of the degraded fuel substance, you can brush or soak it in a cleaner to revitalize the fuel filter.

Replace the fuel filter if there’s any damage to it. The fuel filter might be in different locations depending on your pressure washer’s make and model, so check your user’s manual to figure out where it’s situated and if you can easily give it an inspection.

Solution 5: Clear Air Filter

In league with the fuel filter and carburetor, dirt buildup blocks the air filter and can throttle and impede your pressure washer’s expected engine functioning.

Survey the air filter to check if it is visibly soiled or has dirt caught, and replace it if that is the case. Remember to replace the air filter annually, regardless of its condition.

Make sure to use your product’s correct model number when ordering the replacement that may be specific to your product. You should do this with any part that requires replacing.

Solution 6: Clean Out Spray Nozzle

Pressure washer and it's part on a wooden background.

Suppose you feel that your pressure washer isn’t thrashing about in the main body but is still giving you fluctuating and, ultimately, unsatisfactory pressure. In that case, the issue might be with a clogged nozzle.

Purchase a nozzle cleaning kit and follow the simple steps specified by the brand you’ve purchased. However, if you are OK with gambling risks, you can pick up a sturdy wire or paper clip that can clean out tiny holes and have at it with the nozzle and then wash it out with water.

Solution 7: Clean Spark Arrestor

The small screen spark arrestor, or trigger arrestor, is responsible for preventing your engine from producing sparks. As with anything in the engine, it can accumulate soot, which diminishes its functionality.

To solve an issue with a blocked spark arrestor, you only need to take it out and clean it with a wire brush.

Solution 8: Pre-cleaner

The pre-cleaner is generally responsible for keeping contaminates from entering intake inlets and going to jam up the filter. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence you should not need to solve. In severe cases, you might need a replacement trigger arrestor.

3. Pressure Washer Leaks Water

Because a pressure washer has so many parts that deal with water, it’s not surprising that another issue people have to deal with is water leakage. As demonstrated and explained by Repairclinic, there are a few ways to troubleshoot this problem.

Solution 1: Inspect Pump

The pump might become damaged if the compressed air it holds isn’t purged before use. This compressed air can damage the pump’s piston seals, check valves, plunger, and loader, leading to water leakage.

If the leak is coming straight from the pump or its direction, it’s much more likely that it has picked up some fault.

Dismantling the pump and rebuilding or replacing it is the best way to deal with this nuisance. If your device has a plunger pump, is reasonably new, and doesn’t have much mileage, you might only need to replace the piston seals.

But if it’s not a plunger-style pump or is sold as a complete assembly, you have to replace the entire pump.

Solution 2: Adjust or Replace Thermal Release Valve

You might not have to worry if you suspect the thermal release valve because you see it periodically discharging water.

This is because this small metallic part with a holed plastic cap is designed to open and release the heated water kept when the pressure washer is left running for a while without the trigger being engaged.

This heated water discharge is done so cooler water can make its way into the pump to prevent overheating. The problem then arises if the thermal release valve is continually spewing water.

First, ensure the thermal release valve is correctly threaded into place. If the problem persists, replace the thermal release valve.

Solution 3: Rebuild or Replace Pump Assembly

Water may be leaking because of an issue in the pump assembly. Anything from the intake and exit holes could be the issue.

Rebuild parts of the pump assembly or replace the entire pump if cheaper or less complicated. Generally, replace the entire pump if it’s regularly used and if it’s been seen for a few years in your care.

Rebuild the pump assembly or replace the pump seals if it’s not often used and is still relatively new.

4. Pressure Washer Soap Injector Won’t Work

A white car and a pressure washer with soap.

The soap injector is responsible for the simple yet essential task of allowing the siphoning detergent solution from the pressure washer’s detergent reservoir. The detergent solution is drawn into the pressure hose to be applied to the surface.

Solution 1: Dilute Detergent

If you aren’t getting any soap, the detergent bottle might be the snag in your work. Running diagnostics is also uncomplicated.

Remember to dilute the detergent solution properly, so it isn’t too thick.

Solution 2: Correct Spray Nozzle Size

As the user’s manual recommends a specific type of sprayer nozzle to guarantee a properly functioning soap injection, an improper fit might not be capable of providing the required suction for different detergent solutions.

Refer to the owner’s manual to determine if you’re using the correct size of sprayer nozzle.

Solution 3: Buy Chemical Injection kit

There might be a fault in the injector piston, O-rings, or springs.

Buy a new chemical injection kit with all the required components that’ll allow you to repair most problems in the delicate injector system.

5. Pressure Washer Has Inadequate Pressure

A pressure washer used for cleaning pavement.

Your CRAFTSMAN pressure washer isn’t much of a pressure washer if the pressure is failing. Fortunately, since the issue is easy to see, it is also effortless to resolve.

Solution 1: Unobstruct Water Supply

The pump should have a sufficient water supply to guarantee the expected pressure.

Check for any blockage to the input line and remove any dirt or debris that might be in the way. Also, inspect the nozzle for any clogs or wearing signs. Remove any bends or twists in the input hose.

For extra marks, check if your pressure washer’s connecting terminals have a dust filter and clean out any dirt that might be caught in the filter.

Solution 2: Adjust Unloader Valve

The compressed air in the pump should be purged from the pump before use. However, if this is not done, the compressed air can cause damage to the check valves, plungers, and unloaders.

Gently adjust the unloader valve as you run the trigger and pump. If there’s no improvement, check the other parts and replace them accordingly if you spot any damage.

CRAFTSMAN Electric Pressure Washer

Despite the incredible feats of gas-run power washers, the market is now beginning to respond well to electric power washers, even if it means sacrificing some power and portability.

CRAFTSMAN electric power washers are generally cheaper, quieter, environmentally chummier, and weigh less than their nearest gas counterparts.

However, the mechanical components, and therefore mechanical faults that may follow, of the two styles of pressure washers are all but the same. Save the faults involving the pump’s power source. This is especially true in oil leaks that require a professional eye to mend.

1. Pressure Washer Won’t Start

Like any electrical device, CRAFTSMAN’s electric pressure can sometimes randomly decide to take strike action from work. This potentially frustrating occurrence can result from several issues, from the motor to the electrical source it’s plugged into.

Solution 1: Plug Unit In

The most common cause of an electric pressure washer not turning on often traces back to the power. The power cord situation can make for a difficult transition if you’re coming from a gas power washer.

That’s why it’s possible to forget to plug in the machine even after unreeling the power cord.

Follow the power cord to the outlet and check that it is properly plugged into it. Confirm that it holds correctly in the outlet. Where an adapter is used, double-check that it is switched on and correctly plugged in.

Solution 2: Turn Power Switch to on Position

A man checking the wiring on a pressure washer.

As simple as it may be, sometimes the sun can fry our brain cells to an embarrassing degree. “Turn it on and off again” can be applied to anything because sometimes we forget to turn the unit on.

Firstly, confirm that the ON/OFF switch is in the correct position. Turn it to the OFF and then back to the ON position or straight to the ON position if that is the issue.

Solution 3: Engage Wand Trigger

Like the ON/OFF switch, you might be incorrectly engaged with a trigger, especially if you aren’t familiar with how much force to apply to it.

You’ll want to ensure that you squeeze the trigger while the switch is in the ON position. If you can hear the motor running, give the wand trigger a firm squeeze. Remember to disengage the trigger lock-off while the unit is still off.

Solution 4: Reset GFCI

The Ground-Fault Circuit-Interruptor is built into the power supply plug as an additional precaution against accidental electrocution. A light indicator above the GFCI should glow green for the power washer.

If the indicator isn’t illuminating green, press the “RESET” button. However, if it is glowing green, press the bottom-situated “TEST” button so that the green indicator disappears. If the test button doesn’t work, immediately discontinue and call a professional.

Solution 5: Inspect Power Output for Fault

Power must pass through many places before it can work with your motor. It is then natural that a fault can appear in the outlet, breaker, or electrical panel itself.

If the unit is still not getting power, try multiple power outlets to rule out outlets being the issue.

If the power washer turns on from any of the outlets and not in others, then that specific outlet might need to be replaced by a qualified electrician. If none of the outlets work, even with other power equipment, then you might be facing a circuit fault.

You’ll need Indiana Jones for this next step and locate your electrical panel, which might be hiding behind stairs in your basement. Open the electrical panel and check if there’s any tripped breaker.

Regardless of whether you found a tripped breaker, if it is your first time using those specific outlets for your power washer, you might want to test them out with a multimeter. It could turn out that they aren’t providing the amperage required by your power washer’s motor.

In this case, you’ll need an electrician to enhance the panels or downgrade to a less demanding model.

2. Motor Buzzes but Doesn’t Work

Since we demand so much out of the pressure washer’s motor, it can sometimes fail to meet expectations. It’s not just performance anxiety, as there are several possible causes for this issue.

The supply voltage could be below the minimum, the system could be holding on to residual pressure, voltage loss because of an extension cord, or the cleaner could have gone a long period without use.

Solution: Run Voltage Diagnostic

To rule off the possibility of the supply voltage being below minimum, ensure that only the pressure washer draws from the chosen circuit.

For residual pressure, switch off the device and press the trigger until the pressure has been released, and then turn the unit back on.

To avoid a voltage loss, don’t use an extension cord with the pressure washer; plug it directly into the power outlet. Check-in with a CRAFTSMAN customer service representative in cases of a cleaner not being run for a while.

3. Power Washer Has Pressure Issues

The cause of varying pressure can be similar or the same as what it’s already been covered under the gas power washers. As controllable and predictable pressure is what you expect most from your unit, it can be disheartening when it doesn’t perform.

Solution 1: Inspect Inlet Water Supply

Commonly, the poor reliability of the pressure might be because there isn’t enough inlet water supply. Power washers need a solid and steady supply of water to work with. A water faucet that’s not fully turned on can impede the unit from producing high pressure.

Start following the water hose connecting a water supply to your device and undo any twists, knots, kinks, or tangles. Repair any leaks you see. When you get to the tap, fully release it to get the full force of the water. All water valves should be fully opened.

Solution 2: Remove and Clean Inlet Filter

You won’t get anywhere with a blocked inlet water filter like a gas-powered pressure washer. The device might start up fine but not have water coming from the pump or never even get to the required pressure.

Isolate the issue by directly connecting a water hose to the unit’s inlet and turning it on. Water should flow out of the outlet if it’s flowing through the device as it should. If there’s no water to be seen, remove the inlet filter, clean, rinse, and put it back in.

Solution 3: Run Nozzle Maintenance

If the pressure you’re getting from your device isn’t as expected, the nozzle could be to blame. It could be worn or clogged with foreign material. The pump’s pressure will pulsate from the excess pressure if the nozzle is blocked by dirt or debris.

Before continuing, disconnect the water hose while the device is running, press the trigger to use air to blow out any loose debris, and try to remove some by hand. If this step fails, continue with the following steps.

  • Shut off the entire device and cut the water supply.
  • Relieve pant-up water pressure by pulling the trigger on the wand.
  • Remove the nozzle from the spray wand, bring out your nozzle cleaner kit, and give it a gentle cleaning.
  • Run water through the nozzle as a final rinse before putting it back in the spray wand.

However, contact CRAFTSMAN customer service if the nozzle is worn instead of clogged.

Solution 4: Purge Air From Pump

If everything is in order, but your machine is still not getting up to pressure, you might have an air leak somewhere. Another sure sign would be excessive noise from your device’s pump.

Ensure that hoses and other fittings are airtight. Turn the pressure washer off and purge the air out of the pump by depressing the trigger gun until a consistent stream of water flows out of the wand’s nozzle.

Solution 5: Rinse Water Inlet Screen

The inlet screen keeps dirt and debris from entering the pump through the water hose. You know this forgotten champion might be choked up when the water pressure keeps jumping from high to low.

Rinse the inlet screen with water to unclog it.

4. Power Washer Has Detergent Trouble

A person cleaning a car using a pressure washer with soap.

The soap solution is an integral part of the functionality of a pressure washer. It’s crucial to know how to use the detergent tank to avoid dealing with some of the following relatively benign problems.

Solution 1: Refill Detergent Tank

If you notice no detergent coming through, you might want to look in the soap tank. The soap tank might be empty. There might also be soap scum clogging the detergent filter or injector system, which could further damage the pump.

If you already clean the soap tank after every job, replenish the soap tank. If you weren’t aware that the soap tank required regular cleaning, it’s best you see the following process to rectify the slight oversight:

  • Shut off the device and the water supply.
  • Relieve any pressure by squeezing the wand’s trigger.
  • Disconnect the soap tank hose from the detergent tank hose inlet.
  • Remove the soap tank from the unit by lifting it out.
  • Empty any residual soap in the tank and save it if it’s still good by pouring it back into its bottle. Use a water hose to rinse the soap tank thoroughly and leave it to dry.
  • Once dry, reinstall the soap tank back into the device.

Solution 2: Flush-Fit All Connection Points

The soap tank or its suction tube might not be properly connected.

Examine all connections to ensure that everything fits flush.

Solution 3: Rinse Suction Tube With Warm Water

The detergent suction tube and its filter can get clogged by dirt over time. The suction tube could also be damaged.

Inspect the suction tube’s filter and run warm through it to remove any obstruction. Carefully remove any debris in the suction tube and replace it if it shows damage.


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