Owning your own home equipment can make your life a lot easier, so you aren’t always borrowing, renting, or hiring someone else to do work for you. It’s easier right up until your equipment starts leaking gas.
Pressure washers are great, they open a lot of doors for cleaning and home improvement, but they can and do leak gasoline. When that happens, this guide can help you to fix it yourself, rather than seeking out a professional.
1. Make sure it is gas
This may sound like a total no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake. Gasoline and water are both transparent liquids, and the only easily observable difference between the two is smell, so it’s important to make sure it is gas.
It’s also important to make sure that the leak is coming from your pressure washer, and not any other gas powered equipment. Store your pressure washer away from other equipment for a night, and see if the leak originates with it or something else.
Finally, many people won’t need this reminder, but if you have an electric pressure washer, any leak coming from that product is not going to be gasoline.
2. Make sure you’re safe
Gasoline is highly flammable, and can even explode given the right context, so make sure that you are safe. No matter the size of the leak, do not start the engine on your pressure washer, that can result in serious problems.
Clean up any leaked gasoline before the repair, and continue to clean up throughout the repair. Serious injury is always a possibility when working with engines like this, so be careful.
Remember that there is no shame in consulting a professional repairman, or even having them do the repair. They’re there for a reason, and if you aren’t comfortable with engines, that’s okay.
3. Consult your owners manual
When you purchased your pressure washer it should have come with an owners manual containing significant information about your pressure washer. If you are anything like me, you probably held onto it for a month thinking, then tossed it because “realistically there’s no way I’ll ever need this thing.”
The advantage of living with internet access is that most owner’s manuals are available online now, so even if you’ve lost yours, you should be able to find it digitally.
Consulting the owners manual can help you understand what you’re looking for on your engine, and what you’ll need to address the issue.
If the owner’s manual fails, or you just want more information, you can always contact the manufacturer for more information. They might be able to tell you if your model of pressure washer is prone to leaks, or if some part of the engine tends to fail first. This information could accelerate the repair process.
4. Remove the Carburetor
Carburetors are one of the primary causes for gas leaks in engines, particularly in smaller engines. Carburetors are responsible for mixing air into the gasoline in an engine to help them run at optimal function. When that doesn’t happen properly, the carburetor can be damaged.
When gasoline isn’t changed often enough, the carburetor gets dirty and damaged over time as old gasoline leaves residue. Over time, this can cause a fuel leak in the engine. You can clean the carburetor to help address this problem.
In order to do this, you need to shut off the fuel and take off the spark plug cap. Then remove all covers from the carburetor, as well as the intake if you need to in order to reach the carburetor. Then you need to disconnect the fuel line–a clamp on the line will keep any fuel from spilling.
Once that is disconnected, you are ready to unscrew the carburetor, which is usually held in place by two bolts. After that, you can disconnect the throttle, and remove the carburetor from the engine.
Make sure that any O-rings in and on the carburetor are in tact, as that can also cause leakages. Anything torn or misshapen should be replaced, as if they aren’t the current cause of the leak, they may present a problem in the future.
If you are more of a visual learner, it can be hard to figure out how to remove a carburetor from written instruction, so videos will be a great help. Because all engines are slightly different, it may be more beneficial to find a video on your specific pressure washer model, but I have linked a video of a Honda pressure washer carburetor removal and repair to give you a general idea.
5. Check Float Needle Valve
Inside the carburetor, you will find what is called a float needle valve, which monitors the amount of gasoline in the carburetor to keep the correct ratio of gas to air. Meaning, if the fuel level is too low, the float needle valve lets in more fuel, just as it stops the fuel if it has too much.
This part of the carburetor can get stuck, and when it’s stuck it won’t regulate gasoline correctly. Too much gasoline can cause leakages. If yours is stuck, unstick it, and it may solve your leak.
A solution to this problem may be something a simple as repeatedly tapping the side of the carburetor to right the needle. More probably you will have to remove the needle and clean it to prevent it from sticking in the future. If your float needle valve is the problem, this should completely fix the leaking. If not, there are more solutions to try.
6. Clean, Repair, or Replace the Carburetor
Clean the Carburetor
Remove the float needle valve, along with any O-rings or gaskets before beginning the cleaning process. You have two main options for cleaning. The first is to spray down the entire carburetor with a cleaner, and scrub the whole thing, being sure to get into all the hard to reach places.
The second easier, more effective, but more expensive option, is to buy enough cleaner to completely submerge the carburetor, and leave it to soak. Either way, blow out any remaining cleaner with compressed air. Once it is clean you should be good to put you pressure washer back together.
Repair the Carburetor
In the event that cleaning the carburetor doesn’t solve your problem, it may be broken in some way, and in need of repairs. Carburetor repair kits are available all over the internet, just be sure to buy a repair kit for your exact model, otherwise the parts won’t line up correctly.
These repair kits usually contain commonly damaged parts so you can replace only the pieces that need replacement. For many, this solution is preferable to the next potential solution.
A repair kit is probably the most inexpensive option if your carburetor is overly damaged. Depending on the parts you need, and you pressure washer model, you might only need to spend $6, and you shouldn’t need to spend more than $25.
Replace the Carburetor
Sometimes the damage done to a carburetor is so extensive that the entire thing will need to be replaced. Much like finding a repair kit, you should be able to find a replacement carburetor online. Again, make sure to order a carburetor for your exact model of pressure washer, otherwise it simply wont fit.
A general search reveals that a replacement carburetor is actually quite affordable. Depending on the pressure washer model, a replacement carburetor can cost as little as $15, though several manufacturers charge as much a $40 for a full replacement.
7. Check the Fuel Lines
You would think that this is the most likely place for a leak, and should be the first place that you check, and you wouldn’t be far off. While the carburetor is often a primary cause of a leak, fuel lines are really only checked after the carburetor because removing it gives easier access to the fuel lines.
Fuel lines commonly have holes, tears, or just loose connections. These happen relatively often during every day use. When you inspect your fuel lines, if you find a hole or tear, replace the entire line. If that is your problem, be sure to seal it properly with some sort of sealant.
If you find that a line is loose, you can reseal it, and replace the O-ring at the point of connection between the line and the tank, or the line and the carburetor. O-rings can be purchased in large sets, so you can be sure that you get the right size.
8. Consult a Professional
Now we come back to the dreaded thought of going to a professional. If your owner’s manual and the manufacturer didn’t have suggestions other than those listed here, and the ones listed didn’t address the problem, the problem is probably better addressed by a professional.
In this situation, it is even preferable to completely replace your pressure washer, rather than carry on as though nothing is wrong. Gasoline leaks can cause fires, injury, and even deadly situations if not addressed, so please be careful and do all you can to address them.