Leaking gas is a problem for many small engines, not just pressure washers. Generators, lawnmowers and other home equipment that run on gas may all develop this frustrating problem. The good news is that the fixes are relatively similar. Once you learn how to troubleshoot your pressure washer that is leaking gas, you’ll be much better at handling your next gas leak.
So, how do you fix a pressure washer that is leaking gas? This guide will explain how to determine its gas, how to keep yourself safe while you work, and what is likely causing your leak. The fix could be as simple as tapping the carburetor, or you may need to replace a part of your pressure washer. Here’s what you need to know.
Make Sure It’s Not Just Water
It may sound silly, but it is essential to make sure that the leak is actually gas and is actually coming from your pressure washer. You wouldn’t want to assume the gas leak in your driveway is your pressure washer and do lots of work, when it could actually be your vehicle leaking.
You can tell gas apart from water by the smell. If you notice a leak, make sure the leak is actually from the pressure washer by inspecting it for the source of the leak. If the leak is very tiny, you might put the pressure washer on a rag and see if the rag gets wet. If not, the leak is from something else nearby.
Those who have never handled home equipment or engines before may not realize this, but only gas pressure washers leak gas. If you have an electric pressure washer that is leaking, it’s either water or the gas is from something else.
What Not to Do When Your Pressure Washer is Leaking Gas
Gas leaks are serious. Gas is flammable and, when under pressure, explosive. Your safety should be your first concern at all times. You should not start a pressure washer that is leaking gas. You also shouldn’t leave it near a source of flame. When possible, avoid just allowing the gas to spill out onto your driveway or yard. It is an environmental hazard if it gets into the water system or a green area. Use rags or buckets to capture the gas and dispose of it safely according to your local laws. If you are uncomfortable with engines, you should have a professional fix your pressure washer. After all, it was likely an investment. Fixing it yourself could lead to more damage.
Troubleshooting Your Leaking Pressure Washer
Your first step when troubleshooting your pressure washer should always be to check with the manufacturer and manual. Both can give more specific advice that is more relevant to your exact pressure washer. If that fails, you should investigate two main parts of the pressure washer: the carburetor and the fuel line.
1. Check the Carburetor
The most common cause of gas leakage is a carburetor problem. The carburetor mixes air and fuel to get the proper ratio to make the pressure washer engine work. As you can imagine, too much gas in the carburetor or a break down in one of its components can cause a leak.
Float Needle Valve
The first most simple issue to check for is that the float needle valve at the top of the carburetor could be stuck. The float tells the carburetor when its fuel levels are too low. It then allows additional fuel into the carburetor to make up for it. If it’s stuck, gas may not enter the carburetor, or there may be too much gas in it. Either problem could cause a leak. The simple solution is to gently tap the outside of the carburetor and see if the needle rights itself.
Another potential cause of the leak is that the carburetor is dirty and therefore not creating the right mix of fuel and air. Carburetors can easily get gummed-up with gas residue if you leave old gas in the pressure washer. Once it’s gummed up, the only solutions are to clean or replace it. In fact, sometimes a gummed-up carburetor is the cause of a stuck float needle valve in the first place.
To clean the carburetor, follow these steps:
- Remove the spark plug cap and turn off the fuel valve.
- Remove covers from the carburetor. On a pressure washer, the carburetor will have a throttle cover and air filter box. You may also have to remove the intake set up in order to get at the carburetor.
- Next, you will need to disconnect the fuel line but be sure you have a bucket or rag to catch the gas that will be released first. If you really don’t want to spill the gas, you can clamp the line first.
- Locate the two bolts that hold the carburetor to the engine and remove them using a nut driver or socket. Disconnect the throttle cable so you can completely remove the carburetor.
- Now open the carburetor and remove the flat needle. Pressure washer carburetors may not have jets, but if yours does remove them too.
- Remove any gaskets and O-rings before you apply your carburetor cleaner. Spray the carburetor thoroughly or completely submerge it in the cleaner (that is expensive but works best). Be sure to clean in the jet holes if you are just spraying the carburetor.
Blow the carburetor with compressed air to remove the cleaner. Once it is completely dry, reinstall the carburetor to your pressure washer.
If your carburetor has another issue, or you cannot clean it or fix the float, you can rebuild or replace the whole thing. You’ll find carburetor rebuild kits and replacement carburetors for several pressure washer brands online. Be sure you choose a kit that works with your carburetor, or the exact model you have for a replacement.
2. Check the Fuel Line
Another cause of a pressure washer gas leak is a hole or loose connection in the fuel line. In the steps we listed above to clean the carburetor, we explained how to get at the fuel line. Once you have it, inspect it for small holes or tears. If it does have a tear, it is best to replace the hose outright. Be sure that when you do, you connect the new fuel line with tight seals, or you may have another leak on your hands.
If the fuel line does not have any visible tears or holes, the pressure washer may be leaking where the fuel line connects to the tank or carburetor. You can replace the O-ring and seals that hold the line in place to correct this issue.
3. What If You Can’t Find the Problem?
If you can’t determine what part of the pressure washer is responsible for the leak, it’s time to call in an expert or to replace your pressure washer altogether. It’s dangerous to run any engine that is leaking, so you shouldn’t ignore this problem.
Special Notice on Troy-Bilt Pressure Washers (Briggs Stratton Engines)
Troy-Bilt pressure washers or any with Briggs Stratton engines may leak more often than others and may suffer from premature engine failures, stalls and loss of pressure. Currently, Classaction.org is doing an investigation into this issue to determine if a class-action lawsuit should be brought against the company. In fact, Classaction.org says the attorneys they work with have received insider information about these pressure washers. Of course, there is no guarantee that a class action lawsuit will be started, or will be successful, but if you own one, it is something to keep your eye on.
How To Clean Up Gas Spills from Leaks
The last thing you need to know to resolve your pressure washer leak is how to clean up and dispose of the gas that leaked out of it. Gasoline cannot be allowed to run into the sewer system and cannot be put through your plumbing system. It also should not be allowed to leech into the soil.
If you’re in the United States, the EPA has instructions on how to dispose of oil. Collect it in a container or absorb the leak in disposable rags and bring them to a household hazardous waste facility near your home. Your local government or fire department may have other options for you.
How To Avoid Pressure Washer Gas Leaks
Now that you have resolved your pressure washer’s gas leak, you may want to know how you can avoid the problem in the first place. The most important thing to do is not store old gas in the pressure washer. Keeping the tank full will dirty the carburetor and other parts of the pressure washer much more quickly. Use up the fuel or empty the pressure washer if you know you will not be using it for a month or more.
It is also a wise idea to properly winterize your gas pressure washer. This will help keep the seals, fuel line and other parts of the pressure washer in good condition.
Lastly, follow your manufacturer’s instructions to maintain your pressure washer. Most recommend yearly tasks such as inspecting the unit and cleaning it.
If you want to learn more about how to maintain your pressure washer and protect your investment in it, read more from Just Pressure Washers. We release informative guides on everything pressure washer related.