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This Is Why Your Pressure Washer Is Hard To Pull Start

    Cover image for this is why your pressure washer is hard to pull start

    A pressure washer can be a unique piece of equipment for a variety of reasons.  One, however, can be a frustrating one for machine owners. At times a pull start pressure washer can be very hard to start and when those times happen it can be very easy to break the pull cord. Your pressure washer is hard to pull start because with each pull you are building up pressure in the system from the pump.  

    It seems like an obvious explanation, but it is true.  When you pull the starter cord it will create pressure within the system.  If the pressure washer does not start on that first pull you will be adding more and more with each pull. You will be able to feel this issue directly on your second pull as it will be just a little harder to pull.  

    After that, with each consecutive pull, it will be even harder and soon enough the cord will break under the pressure. It can be a very frustrating experience, especially for new owners of pressure washers. The good news is that there is an easy and simple way to handle this without damaging your system.  

    How To Properly Start A Pressure Washer

    If you want to avoid the common issue of having a pressure washer that is hard to pull you must do these simple steps when starting it up every time.

    For most pressure washers you will turn the power switch to on.  Then pull the choke out after which you will need to check and make sure there is enough fuel in it.  Then comes the part that most skip over which causes pressure to build up from the pump. You should squeeze the trigger on the wand handle. This will make sure any pressure that is created will not build up and it will easily escape the system through the wand and the pressure washer nozzle.

    Make sure you watch where you are pointing the wand as it starts up.  Since the trigger will be down it will release water. Once it starts up you can release the trigger and you pressure washer will function like normal.

    Pulling the trigger will also work if you forget to at first and your starter rope becomes hard to pull.  Do not force pull it if it is giving you resistance. That will likely end up with you breaking the rope and then you will need to get your system repaired.  Just squeeze the trigger and you’ll see and feel the pressure being released. There will likely be water that comes out with it when you pull the trigger. 

    Taking care and time to start your pressure washer system properly will avoid the issues of a hard to pull the starter cord. If you feel your cord starts to resist or lock up trying squeezing the trigger before doing anything and definitely do not try and force it to start when the cord is getting hard to pull.

    Why Do Pressure Washer Rope and Starter Cords Break?

    The strength and quality of the starter cord will vary based on your make and model of pressure washer. Most are made of rope fabric and are built to hold up with some wear and tear.  However, over time even the best ones can break down.

    Common causes of pressure washer starter cord breaks:

    Age: Whether it’s over years of regular use, or if you use your machine all the time your cord will wear down.  Eventually, it can break either with the cord itself or the handle can wear down and come off. With correct use and maintenance, you can avoid this type of degradation and make this issue rare.

    Outside Elements: The environment you use and store your pressure washer in can affect the longevity of your starter rope.  From chemical and detergents that are spilled onto the rope, or if it is left outside in the rain or elements you cord like most anything will degrade over time with more exposure.  Proper storage is key to reduce this reason for a broken pressure washer starter cord.

    Mechanical Issues and Improper Use: There are times when engine parts on your washer can break.  In these cases, they can also mess up or destroy your cord as well.  Your starter could lock up with no notice and you pull the cord and it comes right off, or as we’ve discussed above a build-up of pressure in the pump while starting the machine can cause the cord to break as well.

    If you are in need of a new starter cord here is one that is inexpensive and pretty basic.  It is a good idea to have a back up on hand just in case yours ever breaks.  No one wants to get all set up for a big job only to not even be able to start work on it because your starter rope breaks when you start your pressure washer. 

    While this option is not a high end or fancy starter cord it is a great option to have a backup starter cord to save time and the job if yours breaks.

    If you want to upgrade your rope to something stronger then take a look at this True Blue Starter Rope. It is made to be durable and stand up better to heavy use and wear and tear.  It is easy to clean, flexible, and strong while still being affordable and looks good too.

    3 thoughts on “This Is Why Your Pressure Washer Is Hard To Pull Start”

    1. The Honda engine on my Simpson 3100 is very hard to pull ! With the plug out it is easy. Checked for oil…it’s ok, the level is good and there is no hydrolic lock or anything that I could tell. The relief valve on the pump looked bad so I replaced it. Still a very hard pull . A gorilla could probably start it if the rope didn’t break first !

      1. I am having the same issue on my company generac engine. It even pulls thru hard with the spark plug out. I’m told by a local mechanic something about a bad de compression valve.

    2. Pressure build up is a cause. but definitely not with mine. My $299 Choremaster/MTM VERTICAL SHAFT and NEW PUMP PW runs strong and pulls like butter when HOT, but pulls extremely stiff and slow when cold – with no water on, with all hoses disconnected.

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