How to Clean a Pressure Washer Unloader Valve

A pressure washer can’t function with out a working unloader valve. If yours is faulty, make sure it’s not an issue of accumulated dirt and grease. Here’s how to clean a pressure washer unloader valve:

Clean a Pressure Washer Unloader Valve in 6 Steps

Here’s a step by step guide to help you clean the pressure washer unloader valve on your pressure washer

Step 1: Shut The Pressure Washer Down

First, shut off the water supply to the pressure washer and disconnect the power.

Step 2: Remove Unloader Valve

Next, remove the unloader valve from the unit. The unloader valve is usually located on the manifold head of the pressure washer and has an outlet hose attached to it.

Unscrew the retaining nut on top of the valve and pull it out from its housing. Be sure to make note of how the valve was assembled so that when can you re-install correctly.

Step 3: Inspect for Damage

Inspect for any damage to the components such as the o-rings deteriorating, damage to the threading or ball valve.

Step 4: Clean Thoroughly, Using a Solvent if Necessary

Using a soft brush or cloth, carefully clean any dirt or debris that may have built up around or inside the valve. You may even need to use a small pin or small diameter wire to scrape away dirt and oil that’s accumulated in the valve tube and other hard to reach areas. If you encounter any stubborn dirt or oil, try applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the dirty surfaces to help dislodge the grime.

Step 5: Re-install as it was

Once the valve is thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, replace the retaining nut and reattach the unloader valve to its housing. Be sure it’s in the same position it was in before removing.

Step 6: Test

Once you have finished installing the unloader valve, turn on the water supply and reconnect the power to your pressure washer. Turn the machine on, checking pressure level. Also look for any leaks around the unloader valve and ensure that it is working properly.

Warning! Do not spray your hands with a high powered pressure washer! It can result in injury.

What is a Pressure Washer Unloader Valve?

Lost? Lets back up a step. A pressure washer unloader valve is a device that regulates the flow of water through the pressure washer. Without it, the pressure washer would pressurize when the trigger to the pressure washer is not engaged, resulting in damage to the machine.

Essentially, the pressured water needs some place to go – a bypass – when the machine is on, but the machine is not engaged.

Some electric pressure washers and other basic household machines do not have adjustable unloader valves. They are simply built into the pump and can’t be removed.

If your pressure washer has one, the valve is typically found at the back of the manifold head (where the system of tubes and pipes converge) and is used to adjust the amount of pressure being applied. It also helps regulate temperature, ensuring that the water does not become too hot or cold.

The unloader valve should be inspected regularly and cleaned if necessary to ensure that it is functioning properly. Failure to do so can lead to decreased performance or even damage to the pressure washer itself.

Signs a Pressure Washer Unloader Valve Needs Cleaning

Signs a pressure washer unloader valve needs cleaning include unusual noises, leaking water, loss of pressure, or a decrease in performance. The engine could even stall from time to time. If you notice any of these signs, it could mean a number of things, but removing the valve and inspecting for dirt is the first step you want to take.

A dirty unloader valve is an easy problem problem to solve and cleaning might get your pressure washer functioning again properly. Just remove, clean as per the instructions above and re-install exactly as it was prior to removal.

Also lookout for any wear and tear in the unloader valve that could be the culprit for a decrease in performance. It could be something as simple as one

Cleaning the valve regularly will help ensure that your pressure washer runs smoothly and efficiently for years to come.

Some household pressure washer unloader valves can't be cleaned
Some electric pressure washers don’t have a removable unloader valve

Still Having Problems?

If your pressure washer is experiencing problems after you clean it it could be a number of things not having to do with your unloader valve. To test if the unloader valve itself is having problems, aside from it being dirty, you can do that by adjusting its settings.

Most unloader valves have a spring inside it that is adjustable. When you remove the valve, see if you can find the spring and a small screw to tighten or loosen to adjust the setting of the spring. Make note of the setting before you make any adjustments so you can easily return it to the original setting.

If you’re able to adjust the tension in the spring, reinstall the valve and engage the pressure washer gun. If you notice a change in the pressure, you know that the unloader valve is functioning properly. If there’s no change, look into replacing the unloader valve.

How to Get a New Pressure Washer Unloader Valve

If your unloader valve is not functioning properly and needs replacing, consult the manual of your pressure washer to get the specific type and model of the unloader valve. Then contact a pressure washer parts supplier in order to purchase the replacement part. Make sure to also buy any other needed accessories such as O-rings or screws.

Once you have the new unloader valve, follow the instructions for installation. Make sure to refer to your pressure washer’s manual. Use safety precautions when working with power tools. After you’ve installed it, test your pressure washer to make sure it is functioning properly.

This should help get your pressure washer back up and running again. If you are still having problems, contact a professional to inspect your machine and help you troubleshoot what might be wrong with it. With regular maintenance, cleaning and inspections, your pressure washer should last many years. Good luck!