Ryobi pressure washer won’t (Start, Stop, Stay on, etc)

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When you get up, ready, excited to get out and work with your pressure washer (it’s not just me, right?..) and you find that your trusty pressure washer doesn’t start, stop, or stay on, this could be down a few different issues that can tricky to identify.

Before you go rushing down to your local hardware store, it pays to take a quick look over some of the more common reasons why your pressure washer won’t function properly.

So “How can I fix my Ryobi pressure washer?” Firstly, we need to identify what is causing the problem. Once that’s done, we can repair, adjust or, if needed, replace parts.

SymptomPossible Problem
Won’t StartSpark plugs, Carburetor, Ignition coil, Flywheel key
Won’t Stay OnCarburetor, Fuel Filter, Fuel Cap, Air Filter
Won’t PressurizeClogged water line, Clogged water connection, Nozzle, Pressure adjustment control
Won’t StopUnloader valve, Wand
Won’t SprayClogged hose, Engine speed, Leaks, Bad pump
Won’t CrankElectrical outlets, Fluid levels, Faulty engine, Obstructions
Won’t Dispense SoapInlet hose filter, Inlet valve, Bad injector, Thick detergent

Going through this list of the most common issues for a Ryobi pressure washer is the best way to troubleshooting your problem. Some of these problems are incredibly easy to fix and only need a minimal amount of tools. Other issues require that you do some routine maintenance and, in the worse cases, a complete overhaul or even replacement of individual parts. Let’s take some time to pinpoint your problem by going through the symptoms of your problem and the various components that make up this small but punchy engine.

If you aren’t the handy type, don’t worry, this is easier than it may sound, and the only way to become handy is to have a go! Right, let’s start troubleshooting!

Pressure washer won’t start

Ryobi Pressure Washer Won't Start

Your pressure washer won’t start? Well, there are several simple reasons that your Ryobi pressure washer won’t start and turn on. First, you will want to check for a faulty spark plug, then move on to check whether or not you have a clogged carburetor, then onto a faulty ignition coil, and finally a cracked flywheel key. These are the most common problems you’ll face, and all of them are relatively easy to test and fix.

Defective spark plug

A defective spark plug is a very easy fix; You could remove it, check for crud and corrosion, check the gap. That’s a lot of effort; for a cheap part, just replace it. If you replace it and your pressure washer still doesn’t start. Take the new one out, stick it back in its box for later, stick the old one back in.

With spark plugs in small engines, it makes sense to just swap them out during an annual service regardless of how much use the engine has seen. Carbon can build up really quickly on the electrode, which prevents an electrical connection between the electrode and the fuel, which means no bang! You can use a spark plug tester to see if it’s the spark plug. Personally, I just switch it out.

Clogged carburetor

A clogged carburetor can happen if the fuel isn’t fresh. For example, if your pressure washer has been sat for an extended period in storage. Fuel can break down and leave a thicker and sticky substance, leading to a clog in the carburetor. To fix this, you just need to take your carburetor apart and clean it with some carb cleaner. This will very quickly fix the issue.

Faulty ignition coil

The next common issue is that your ignition coil may be faulty. If you’ve gone through checking your spark plug and are sure it’s in working order, then the next thing is the ignition coil should be tested. You can quickly and easily test an ignition coil with a tester to see if you need to replace it.

Cracked flywheel key

If all of those are checking out fine, then examining the flywheel key is the next logical choice. The flywheel key is a safety measure to protect your engine from stopping due to a sudden strong opposing force. It’s designed to break in half to stop complete engine failure. The only way to check this is to take the flywheel off and inspect the key.

Having done this, I suggest being logical, laying nut and bolts and components out in an order in which you took them off. That way, you can work backwards through that order when you’ve finished your inspection.

Pressure Washer Won’t Stay On

ryobi pressure washer wont stay on

If you are fortunate enough that you can start your Ryobi, but it just won’t stay on, the first place I suggest looking is your carburetor. If all you did was to replace the spark plugs and then your gas-powered pressure washer managed to start, but then almost immediately stops, the place is your carburetor.

Chances it’s clogged up with sticky, yucky old fuel. Simply take it apart and clean it with somecarb cleaner as mentioned above. This is the most common problem, so it makes sense to check here first.

It’s also worth keeping a carburetor repair kit on hand, as this will include replacement O-rings, which will keep your carburetor going strong.

The second most common item to check is the fuel filter. Your fuel will go through this first. If the fuel is dirty or old, well, it will clog up the fuel filter, just like it will clog up your carburetor. This is a very simple fix; just replace the fuel filter with a new hose and filter.

This next area is hardly ever checked, and I’ve experienced this. Check the vent holes in the fuel cap of your pressure washer. These vent holes can become clogged. This limits the airflow into your fuel tank. This creates a vacuum due to the lack of replacement air when fuel leaves the tank, and the engine ends up being starved of fuel and stalls. Replacing your fuel cap is the only way to fix this problem. You can try to clean it; I haven’t had much success with that myself.

The air filter on your pressure washer can also cause your engine to stall. Dirt in the filter prevents enough air from getting into your carburetor. Like your spark plug, you should change your air filter annually, or if you inspect it and it’s visibly dirty.

Pressure Washer Won’t Pressurize

Ryobi Pressure Washer Won't Pressurize

If your Ryobi pressure washer doesn’t build pressure, there is most likely a clog, though the worst-case scenario is that you have a faulty pump. This is something that can affect an electric pressure washer as well as a gas-powered one.

Let’s start with the best case and make sure that there isn’t a blog anywhere in the waterline. With your garden hose connected to your pressure washer, turn it on and pull the gun trigger if you see water coming out of the nozzle tip.

If you don’t get any water, the most likely culprit is the nozzle tip, so remove it and check for a clog. Perhaps try another tip.

Check that your garden hose isn’t kinked or has any holes. A broken hose isn’t going to help.

If the clog is not in the garden hose, check the pump’s connection to the high-pressure hose. Remove this carefully as not to lose any small parts that may be inside. Shine a light through the hole in the bottom to see if it’s clogged. If you’ve gone this far, I suggest replacing the O-rings on the plunger inside the pump. It’s good maintenance and will keep your pump going strong.

Next, look for a red knob on your pressure washer pump. This valve may have come loose. The spring inside of the casing of the pressure washer valve can end up getting rusty and rotting away. It may need to be replaced. When this loosens is causes your pressure washer to go into low-pressure mode. For those of you with a Ryobi Triplex pump, this style doesn’t have such a knob. I suggest you take a look at your owner’s manual for exact steps on this maintenance.

Nozzle tips can wear out rather quickly through use, especially if you use the same pressure washer tip all of the time. You can test this by grabbing a new tip or one you rarely use and using that. Also, check that you’ve installed the correct nozzle tip. If you use a nozzle that is meant for soap missing, well, that’s meant for low-pressure pressure washing.

Pressure Washer Won’t Stop

ryobi pressure washer wont stop

Troubleshooting why your pressure washer won’t stop, for me, starts with the unloader valve.

Your pressure washers unloader valve is designed to regulate the water pressure and send it back to the inlet of your pressure washer when you release the trigger on your spray wand.

If water continues to spray after you’ve released your trigger, I suggest getting a new spray wand. A lot of the time, a little TLC will fix the problem. Some new O-rings and some lubricant will get the job done. But I’m cautious, so if it happens, I’ll be replacing the spray wand trigger.

When your pressure washer refuses to stop spraying water, the first place to check is the unloader valve located on top of your pressure washer. It looks like a spring that is held onto the pump but a nut and bolt. To remove the unloader valve, first, you’ll need to remove the U-Shaped locking washer that holds the plug in place.

Take extra care not to lose the ball bearing that’s located at the bottom of the value. Check for any damage to the O-rings. If these are fine, make sure the spring is working correctly and not getting stuck. This valve is easy to disassemble, clean, and replace any parts as necessary. This single spring inside the valve controls the pin that holds the ball bearing down. If you’ve pulled the valve apart, I highly suggest checking the O-rings inside the pressure washer pump, specifically those on the plunger, by removing the cap and outside spring.

Your pressure washer spray wand is an item that should be replaced around 250 hours of use. The switch that controls the water and triggers the unloader value can become loose or defective over time. If water continues to flow out of the tip of the spray wand, but your pressure washers unloader valve is in good working order, then you need a new spray wand.

The video below shows you how to do routine maintenance on your unloader valve

Pressure Washer Won’t Spray

ryobi pressure washer wont spray

So your pressure washer turns on and builds pressure, but when you pull the trigger, it won’t spray, which can be rather infuriating. If you’ve gone through the troubleshooting steps and you know the pressure is ok and the solutions above aren’t helping. The next thing you should look at for a pressure washer that will not spray is the engine.

Your pressure washers engine should be spinning at full speed; this also applies to electric pressure washer variants. You can hear the difference between a fully spinning motor producing good water pressure over a motor that’s not really putting effort into engaging the pump.

If you have a gas pressure washer, make sure that the throttle is in the fast position if it has that feature. It’s a rare thing to find on a machine like these but worth a check. Also, inspect the oil, make sure that it is full and not low.

Have a look at the inlet hose, making sure that it and any screen isn’t blocked. If you see any blockage in the system, remove the garden hose to clean out any debris. Examine all the valves and hoses for leaks or kinks. This is in the inlet and output connections. Reconnect everything, making sure that your outlet connections are secure. Also, ensure that your water supply is providing the right level of water flow rate.

To check whether not the pump is blocked, connect your hose to the inlet and remove the high-pressure hose, turn on your garden hose and see if there is water coming out of the pump, also check to see if the power of that water is high enough, a trickle isn’t enough! That water should flow with a bit of power.

Turn the engine on to see if the pump is working correctly. After the engine is on, the power and pressure of the water should increase!

Pressure Washer Won’t Crank

testing for electrical current

The electric pressure washer variants from Ryobi have a different starting procedure. If your electric pressure washer motor doesn’t crank over, then don’t despair. There are some things to look at. As this is all electrical, it’s going to be a case of finding where the current ends before it connects to the starter.

The most common issue is actually a faulty electrical outlet; check your main fuse box, and try another outlet. Also, check your extension cable if you are using one. It might not provide the right voltage.

If all of that is right, then it’s the electric engine that’s broken. This is a professional fix or replace job.

Gas-powered pressure washers have a cord for your to crank. You pull this cord, and a wheel spins the engine, which causes the engine to go through its stroke cycles, and the engine starts.

As mentioned above, there are many places to check, and I’ve covered them all, but make sure to inspect your:

  • Carburetor 
  • Gas level
  • Spark plug
  • Leaks
  • Oil level
  • Obstructions

As time goes by, small debris can make its way into your pump and screens, gas can also settle on the filter screen. These obstructions can cause your engine to not build enough power or engine pressure to start over. Either thanks to a vacuum leak or not getting enough fuel. Ensure that all the systems and screens are clear from blockages.

Pressure Washer Won’t Dispense Soap

ryobi pressure washer wont dispense soap

Your soap dispenser is an amazing feature. Though at times this can stop working, it just won’t siphon soap or mix it with water.

Make sure that you are using the black nozzle tip, as this is vital for soap dispensing. Also, check your pressure setting; some models allow you to adjust this. You need a low-pressure setting paired to your lower pressure nozzle.

The house in the soap container can get blocked up with old soap, so give it a clear and clean filter screen. These should be easy to flush with fresh water. If it’s being difficult, remove it and wash it in the sink.

The soap inlet valve can be get blocked. When this happens, take apart the valve, like you would your unloader valve. Give it a clean, check all the components, replace any O-rings, springs, and pistons using a replacement kit. This is an easy fix, just get a kit and replace the parts.

Your soap mixture may be too thick, which prevents your pressure washers injector from siphoning the soap mixture into the pressure washer. Make sure your solution is almost watery.

Tips and Tricks: Taking Care of Your Ryobi Pressure Washer

tips and tricks word abstract in wood type

It’s handy to keep some O-rings floating around from personal experience, ready to replace out any that have worn. O-rings frequently fail on pressure washers. It’s just how things play out when working under high pressures.

Here are some quick tips for prolonging the life of your pressure washer:

  • Winterize your pressure washer over the winter months, removing any gas, water, etc., in the system. This will prevent your carburetor from getting gummed up.
  • Inspect the oil level before you start the motor. This ensures you catch any leaks early and can help you prevent a range of issues that cause your water pressure system to fail early on. You’ll spot a cracked piston or broken seal before complete engine failure.
  • Check the water inlets and outlets before you turn it on. Make sure the hoses are attached, and the correct nozzle is in the trigger. Make sure you’ve turned on the water.
  • Don’t let the pressure washer idle for too long. The longer it idles, the quicker your O-rings wear out. You should turn it off when it’s not in use.
  • Keep a spare set of nozzle tips around. These wear out and are designed for specific spray patterns, so keeping a spare set around ensures you have the right nozzle, even if the one you are using breaks.

Wrap Up

It’s the worse feeling when you’ve prepared everything, bring out the pressure water, and it just doesn’t work. It turns a beautiful spring day into an afternoon of hell! Hopefully, these troubleshooting tips will keep your pressure clean working. Still, when it doesn’t, you don’t waste an afternoon blindly trying to work out what is wrong.

Last update on 2021-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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