Craftsman power washer won’t (Start, Stop, Stay On, etc.)

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Purchasing a Craftsman pressure washer leaves you safe in the knowledge that you’ve got yourself a quality piece of equipment. It features an amazing engine created by Briggs & Stratton, which just makes your everyday home cleaning tasks easy. It comes with a three-year limited frame warranty and a two-year warranty on the engine. No machine is fault-free, and many issues can be fixed with a little troubleshooting.

I’ll show you how to find solutions for the following problems:

  • How to start your power washer
  • What do if your power washer won’t start
  • What to do if you can’t pull the cord
  • How to dispense soap
  • What to do when the soap doesn’t dispense
  • How to keep your power washer running 
  • How to pressurize your power washer correctly
  • How to effectively stop your power washer 
  • Troubleshooting common spray issues

I’ve put together this comprehensive guide of the range of common issues and how to fix them so that your craftsman pressure washer remains working for many years to come.

If any of these issues aren’t easily fixed at home and within your warranty period, take your pressure washer to an authorized service center.

How To Start Your Craftsman Power Washer

As this is powered by a gas-powered engine, there are a few steps you need to take each time you start your power washer.

So first things first, here’s a guide on starting your power washer.

  1. Make sure the washer is on a flat surface.
  2. Attach one end of a common garden hose to your water outlet (outside water supply)
  3. Check the high-pressure hose is securely connected to the pressure washer water pump outlet and that the spray wand is securely fastened to the hose. If anything is loose, tighten the connections.
  4. Using your hands, attach the garden hose to the water inlet of your pressure washer (it will be clearly labeled). Turn the water supply on. This will start the flow of water into your washer.
  5. Press and hold the trigger on your spray gun. This will run water through the system, removing any air or debris. Continue to do this until the water flows freely.
  6. Screw a nozzle extension (only hand tight) to the end of your spray gun
  7. Slide the nozzle extension to the low-pressure position
  8. Pull the trigger lock downward. This will lock the trigger in the off position (this is the small spring-loaded tab located on the bottom of your trigger).
  9. push the throttle lever to it’s “Fast” setting (located on the right side of the engine)
  10. If the engine happens to be hot, put the choke in the “run” position.
  11. If the engine is cold, put the choke into the “choke” position.
  12. Grab the rubber handle attached to the pull string on top of the engine and grip it firmly, pull sharply until you feel a slight resistance, continue to repeat this until the engine is running.
  13. Move the engine choke from the “choke” position to the “run” position once the engine has warmed up.

If you’ve followed the steps and there are no issues, then your pressure washer should be happily running. If not, then you have some issues to troubleshoot!

What to Do if Your Craftsman Power Washer Won’t Start

If you’ve followed the steps above, your power washer won’t start. There are several possible reasons why.

Spark plug issues – Check your spark plug for any signs of wear and tear or even damage. If the electrode is corroded or even burned up, or you find a heavy carbon build-up, you may need to replace the spark plug. If it appears in good working order, then you should test the plug as per the steps in the video below:

Sputtering Engine – If you’ve pulled the cord and the engine starts to splutter, this is because there is too much water pressure built up in the pump. This is an easy fix. Simply give the trigger a squeeze on the spray gun. This will relieve the water pressure.

Not enough gas getting to the carburetor – If the engine is hesitating when the choke is moved to the “run” position, just move the choke back to the “choke” position to allow the engine to warm up for a bit longer. Keep repeating this until the engine runs smoothly in the run position. If this never happens, you may need to clean your carburetor.

What to Do if You Can’t Pull the Cord

Sometimes the starter cord won’t move when you try to start your power washer. This can happen if you’ve accidentally locked up the engine or if the recoil starter unit has failed.

This typically happens after the unit has been tipped onto its side. When you tip the unit, oil can enter into the cylinder, which is enough to keep the engine from spinning. To see if this is your problem, try removing the spark plug and then see if the starter cord will pull.

If you can pull the cord, keep pulling the cord, give it a good few pulls. This will help to clear this excess oil out through the spark plug hole. Once you’ve done this, give everything a wipe down, replace the plug, and start your unit.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, you will need to take it to a registered service center for more assistance.

Dispensing Soap in Your Pressure Washer

Dispensing Soap In Your Pressure Washer

Once you’ve got the unit running, it’s time to give it a try. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying than watching a concrete driveway go from dirty to clean.

To start dispensing soap, follow these instructions:

  1. Mix the soap solution following the product’s recommendations. A lot of concentrated soaps will required water dilution. If you don’t dilute properly, you can clog the system.
  2. Take the small end of the filter siphon tube and place it into the diluted detergent container. Make sure it reaches the bottom of the container.
  3. Holding your pressure washer nozzle in one hand, push the nozzle forward with the other. This changes the setting of the nozzle and put it into the low-pressure mode for dispending soap.
  4. Attach your garden hose to the pressure washer using the quick connect nozzle system. To do this, you just need to pull back on the quick connect coupling.
  5. Turn your water faucet on fully to ensure the best water flow.
  6. Press the toggle switch to the on position to turn the power washer on
  7. Point your spray wand at the surface you intend to clean and pull the trigger, marvel at the soapy goodness.

What To Do If Pressure Washer Soap Won’t Dispense

If you’ve done everything right, i.e., your mixed the soap solution correctly, set the mode to soap dispensing, then here are some tips for troubleshooting the issue.

Check the Pressure Nozzle

Sometimes the back pressure from the water can get too high. This actually prevents the soap from dispensing from the port.

First things first, are you using the correct nozzle? If you have a high-pressure nozzle, then we’ve found the problem. The high-pressure nozzle will block the soap injector’s port. Switch to the lower pressure nozzle and see if that results in some soap. You want to use a nozzle size between 30 to 50 when generating low pressure.

Check For Blockages

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for a soap injector port to become clogged by dirt entering the chemical tube. Don’t fret. This is easy to cleanout. Just check the tube, nozzle, and valve to work out which is blocked, then give them a clean. You can use a chemical filter in the future to prevent dirt from getting into the chemical tube.

Check For Clogging

Perhaps you have a chemical filter in place, and you still are having problems. Well, the filter itself may need to be replaced. Though I suggest a little troubleshooting of other parts just in case.

Remove the hose and any other accessories from your pressure washer pump. If the unit starts to siphon detergent, you can narrow your search to the hose and accessories. To pin it down further, add a part or accessory back one at a time. So the hose, the nozzle, the soap injector, and finally the valve.

The one that stops the soap from siphoning is going to be the guilty culprit.

How to Keep Your Pressure Washer Running

If you want your power washer to run well for a long time, you need to perform routine maintenance. Here’s what I suggest.

Checking for Leaks

Before you start the unit up, give it a quick inspection, make sure that there’s no evidence of leaks. Identifying these early on will save you a lot of money, as the longer these leaks last, the more the parts become damaged and the more money you’ll have to spend. Make sure to follow each step.

  • Fuel and oil leaks – before turning on the unit, and that includes introducing water, look around closely for any signs of fuel and oil leaks. Check the fuel lines, inspect the frame for signs of drips, check the engine and the pump’s underside. If you find any leaks, take it to a service center.
  • Water leaks – Once you’ve turned on the water, you’ll want to see if any of the connections are leaking. Check again after you’ve done some spraying, as this will identify high-pressure leaking.
  • Nozzles – Nozzles tend to get dirt and debris built up in them. Fixing this is easy – just poke a paperclip through the hole to dislodge the blockage and flush with water. Most pressure washers come with a pokey tool.
  • Spray gun – The gun trigger and the hose itself are the two most important parts to maintain. Take a good look at the hose to check for any cracking, marring, or if it’s damaged in any way. Check for a secure connection. Pulling the trigger once or twice is the best way to ensure you have proper spring function in the gun and that the unloader valve is working. This is a high wear and tear item, so be prepared to replace it eventually.
  • Water inlet screen – Before you attach the hose, just take a quick look at the water inlet screen. Check for any debris or build-up.

Checking Fluid Levels

  • Fuel – Before starting your pressure washer, make sure that there’s fuel in the tank. You don’t want to run the tank dry as this could allow air into the fuel lines. To check the levels, open the fuel cap, and take a look. If the fuel is low, refill.
  • Oil – To check your oil levels, find your dipstick, pull it out, give it a wipe on a clean rage, stick back into the hole and remove it again, check where the oil lands between the fill level lines. If the oil is low, top it up, never exceed the max fill line.

Caring For Your Air Filter

The air filter can easily be cleaned. Remove it from its case, and then tap it against a hard surface a few times to remove any debris or excess dirt. Be careful, though, as this can be easily damaged. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe it down.

This is a wear and tear item, so you should expect to replace it from time to time. You can pick these up at an auto parts store easy enough, look for an air filter for a small engine. Just switch the old for the new.

Changing the Engine Oil

The best time to change your engine oil is once the engine is warm. A warm engine means warm oil, and warm oil flows much better.

Remove the spigot and locate the drain spout. Place a pan or container under the spout and unscrew the bolt. The oil will drain out into the pan. Once all the oil has been removed. Replace the bolt, and using a funnel, replace the oil with the correct oil for your Craftsman washer model.

Adjusting the Pressure on Your Power Washer

Adjusting the Pressure on Your Power Washer

Some washer models have a pressure regulating control.

If yours doesn’t, you can control the pressure by the nozzle angle (spray pattern width) and the space between the nozzle tip and the surface you are cleaning.

The higher the pressure output of your washer model, the more likely it will have a regulating control valve. This is usually attached to the water output port. The output pressure can be returned by turning it clockwise. Reducing the pressure will also reduce the water flow, so the volume of water will be less. This can make it safe to use on windows and other delicate surfaces.

How to Effectively Stop Your Power Washer

When you want to turn off your unit, it’s important to properly shut down the washer after each use and store it correctly.

Here is what I do to make sure that the pump and lines are free of debris and detergent

  1. If you’ve been spraying soap, remove the soap nozzle and replace it with a spray tip. Run clean water through the soap nozzle for around a minute to flush out any detergent.
  2. Once the engine has been turned off, pull the spray trigger for around 10 seconds, this will remove any pressure left in the system.
  3. Disconnect the hoses from the pump, the spray wand, and also the main water supply (turn it off first). Drain and roll up the pressure hose and hang it up to store. Take the nozzle and gun and put those into the various storage compartments on the machine.
  4. Once everything is disconnected, pull the starter cord a few times to drain any fluid from the pump.

Once you followed each step, you can put your washer away. The best place to store your pressure washer is in a clean and dry area, away from furnaces and out of walkways. I suggest you cover it to prevent dust build-up.

Before Storing Your Craftsman Power Washer

If you are storing this pressure washer for a long time, I suggest you take some additional steps. I’ve gone through these in my how to winterize article but if you’ve done the above, then here are some extra steps.

Fuel – You need to protect your fuel system.

  1. Use a fuel stabilizer – if you need to leave some fuel in the fuel tank during storage, then you’ll need to add a few drops of stabilizer to prevent acid and tar build-up. Simply add the stabilizer and run the unit pressure washer for a few minutes to circulate the solution.
  2. Remove the fuel – If you can remove the fuel, tip your pressure washer over to let the fuel drain into a container. Leave it like this until the fuel tank is empty.

Troubleshooting Common Pressure Washer Spray Issues

The spray nozzle and the spray gun are two very important components of your unit, if these become damaged, they may not work properly, but also there is a safety risk. These control that high-pressure water spray. So you need to keep these in a good state of repair.

  • Inspect the parts of your spray gun: nozzle, gun, O-rings, and connections. Make sure it’s all secure, and there are no leaks.
  • Check the nozzle, spray gun, and inlet screens for blockages. Clean if you find any.
  • Replace the O-rings if you find them dirty or damaged.
  • Inspect the hoses for any twists, dents, cracks, marring, or bends.
  • Check all parts for dirt, debris, or clogging. 
  • Flush out and replace parts as needed. 

Take Advantage of Craftsman’s Warranty Programs

Craftsman’s ReadyStart Engine Starting System guarantees that your Craftsman will start in two pulls of the starter cord. If it doesn’t, then an authorized Briggs & Stratton service center will fix it for free. This is one of the many perks you get for owning a Craftsman.

You can find full details on the warranty program and any authorized service centers near you on the official product warranty page. 

Wrap up

With proper care and maintenance, you will enjoy your Craftsman for years to come. This is one of those “buy once” tools that just keeps going—a very worthwhile investment.

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