Are Pressure Washer Nozzles Universal?

cover image for are pressure washer nozzles universal? - man using a pressure washer

Most pressure washer nozzle tips are color-coded to make it easy to know which one is right for your job at a quick glance.  However is the color all that matters to figure out which nozzle is right for you? Are all pressure washer nozzles universal?  No, they are not.  

The color just designates what the flow and width of the stream will be.  You still need to make sure you have the right nozzle for your brand of the machine as pressure washer nozzles are not to be used in all different kinds of systems

In this post, we will detail there is not a universal pressure washer nozzle, how to tell the difference between them and why it matters.  It is understandable that most think pressure washer nozzles are universal. Many articles just talk about what color to use for different job types and that is typical because it is easier to give advice for that because without knowing what unit you own no one can accurately tell you which nozzle is right for you.

It is up to you to make sure the nozzles you get are the right size to fit your specific machine.

Why Are There Different Part Numbers On Pressure Washer Nozzles

One way to easily see that the nozzles are different is by checking the part numbers.  The nozzles can all look exactly the same or very similar but if you check the part numbers you will see that they are different.

The part numbers can be different for a few reasons.  The sizing of the connector or quick-connect could vary so you need to make sure the size is right to fit your machine.  The other reason is that the nozzle tips can be calibrated to match the internals within your machine. Mainly to work correctly with your particular unloader in your machine.

Why Calibration Matters

To understand why calibration matters for your nozzles you need to understand how and why your pressure washer works internally. All pressure washers have a pump that creates the pressure needed to work and clean properly.  Many also have an unloader after the pump. 

The unloader works like a spring-loaded release for built-up pressure within the machine.  When you let go of the trigger on your wand and the unit is still on it doesn’t stop producing pressure.  Your pump continues to work and it is the job of the unloader to redirect that pressure when the trigger is not being pressed.

Without that the pressure would continue to build up and damage your pump which is a costly and time-consuming repair.  It is because of this unloader having the correct nozzle that is calibrated to your machine is so important. If your nozzle is too large it will reduce the overall pressure you will get out of your machine.  Each different manufacturer of the machines uses a different set of calibration specifics. It is best to double-check your manual or with the manufacturer to find what nozzle tip will be correct for you.

Not All Are Created Equal – Pressure Washer Nozzles Are Not Universal

Don’t let the question of are pressure washer nozzles universal keep you away from working with your own pressure washer.  Most units that you will purchase will come with a set of nozzles for you to use and if they are well taken care of they will last for a long time.  However, pressure washers nozzles can wear out over time. Keeping your manual and other materials that come with your unit can make finding the right attachments easier later on, but the manufacturer’s website should be able to give you the information you need as well. 

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