How long can you run a pressure washer?

Picture of BISON Santy

Hello, I am Santy, the funder of I have been in cleaning machinery field for more than 5 years now, and the purpose of this article is to share with you the knowledge related to pressure washer from a Chinese supplier's perspective.

How long can you run a pressure washer? This is one of the most common questions we get at BISON. As a pressure washing business owner, you will spend much time using your pressure washers. There may be 8 hours a day when all you and your team do is run your unit! But do you need to let the machine rest throughout the day? If so, how often?

As a professional pressure washers supplier, BISON will explian it for you. In this article, you’ll find the answers to how long can you run a pressure washer and many other related queries you may encounter.

how long can a pressure washer run

Factors affecting the running time of high-pressure cleaners

The run time of a pressure washer may be affected by the following factors:

Electric and Gas Pressure Cleaners

If you invest in a pressure washer that runs on gasoline, the amount of time your machine can run will depend on the size of the tank and how quickly the machine burns fuel. Electric pressure washers do not use up fuel like gas-powered ones, so the runtime of an electric pressure washer is more uncertain than a gasoline pressure washer. If it is a Cordless Pressure Washer, then its running time mainly depends on the battery size. If it is a large electric washer, then its running time will be much longer.

Do you use cleaning solutions

Most homeowners pressure wash by spraying the cleaning solution directly onto the surface, while others deliver the cleaning solution through a machine. If using the latter, the cleaning fluid must be replenished throughout the cleaning process.

Do you use a water tank?

If you are working in the yard or indoors, the running time is not limited by the amount of water. If you are working outside, the running time will depend on the amount of water in your water tank. Remember, do not use pressure washer without water.

In short, you need to give fuel pressure washers more rest time than electric pressure washers. Either way, your power cleaners should take a break from continuous use every 30 minutes. However, other factors – such as outdoor conditions, your specific equipment, and the level of cleaning power required, will determine the recommended frequency of downtime.

No matter how powerful your pressure washer is, it’s not a good idea to leave the machine running for too long, as doing so increases the risk of the machine overheating. What will happen if your pressure washer is overused? As a qualified pressure washer manufacturer, in the past few years we have helped customers solve many after-sales problems caused by overuse of pressure washers. Based on past experience, BISON tells you possible problems.

Why must you know how long you can run your pressure washer continuously?

pressure washer overuse

If you’ve ever used a pressure washer, you should know how easily it can overheat. This is also true for gas models. Electric models are much more forgiving but will still shut down if they get very hot. Therefore, knowing how long you can run a pressure washer before taking a break is crucial. But it’s not just about preventing your pressure washer from overheating.

Not only does this help extend the life of your investment, but it also ensures that you are using your machine as safely and efficiently as possible. Let’s take a look at some risks that are associated with running a pressure washer for too long:

  • Overheating

As we mentioned, one of the most significant risks is overheating. This can damage internal components and result in costly repair or replacement. It’s not an investment you want to make twice if you can avoid it – so preventing overheating is essential.

  • Poor performance

Another risk is that the machine starts to perform poorly. This could be due to loss of electricity or water pressure. A poorly performing electric washing machine is a detriment to your business. It creates inefficiencies that reduce profitability.

  • Security issues

Finally, there are security issues. If the machine is not functioning correctly, it can harm you and your team. 

Knowing how long you can run your pressure washer continuously is one of the many critical elements of pressure washer maintenance. Now that we’ve looked at some risks let’s answer the question today – how long can you run your pressure washer continuously?

So how long can you run your pressure washer?

how long can you use pressure washer

The answer to this question depends on many aspects, including your machine type and the conditions under which it will be used. Here’s a more detailed look at each aspect:

  • Machine type

Pressure washers can mostly run for about 30 minutes before needing a break. Electric models can typically run for an hour or a little more. If you’re using a hot water pressure washer, you’ll need to clean it more often — about every 15 minutes. Of course, the best pressure washers will run longer than inferior models. This is part of what makes them “the best”.

  • Conditions

Operating conditions also affect how long your machine can run. If it’s hot outside, the machine will overheat faster. Likewise, using it for heavy-duty cleaning jobs will put more stress on the components and require more frequent breaks.

Now we’ve answered the question – how long can you run your pressure washer continuously? – Let’s look at some safety tips for running the machine:

Is there any way I can extend the run time of my pressure washer?

Time is money, and downtime to let your pressure washer rest is a waste of time and, therefore, money. You might be thinking if there is anything you can do to prevent this kind of downtime. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your machine run longer:

  • Using a lower-pressure setting. This will reduce the pressure on the pump and help in preventing overheating.
  • Use a larger tip. By doing so, it will allow more water to flow through, this will help keep the unit cooler.
  • Using an extension hose. Extending the hose will give you more flexibility and also reduce the risk of kinking, which can lead to decreased water flow and increased heat build-up.
  • Give it a break. As we mentioned, giving your machine rest throughout the day is essential—even if it’s just for a few minutes. This will help prevent overheating and increase its overall lifespan.

Other safety tips for running a pressure washer

Knowing how long you can run your pressure washer continuously is critical to keeping it in top condition. It will enhance your cleaning performance, keep your machines running, and keep everyone operating the equipment and those nearby safe. But here’s to giving the kit a break, there’s not everything you can do to optimize the safety of your pressure washer. Here are some more tips to keep your machine safe and improve performance:

  • Inspect equipment before each use.
  • Never point the nozzle at anyone else or at yourself.
  • Check for leaks.
  • Use the correct technique for the job at hand.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

By following these tips, you can keep your pressure washer safe and performing at its best—no matter how long you run it continuously. 

The role of the thermostat in regulating the temperature of a high-pressure washer

A thermostat is essential to most, if not all, machines. It is an accessory that regulates the temperature, never above or below the optimum temperature. Therefore, you should understand how the thermostat in your electric pressure washer works to help you with overheating issues.

Pressure washers can have adjustable or non-adjustable thermostats. Naturally, the water will be heated above the optimum temperature. Diagnosing the thermostat while heating persists will help you troubleshoot or confirm the fault. The fixed thermostat maintains the desired water temperature by cycling the burner nozzles on and off.

You should set your thermostat to the desired temperature for it to work effectively. Don’t worry if the water temperature rises and falls occasionally. However, to achieve a constant water temperature, the heat output of the burner nozzle must be reduced.

In contrast, a pressure washer with a non-adjustable thermostat presents a different challenge. Since the burner nozzles are constantly firing, expect the water temperature to increase continuously while the machine is in use. If this is the case, use a safety switch to control overheating. It shuts off the safety switch once the preset water temperature is reached.

pressure washer use time

How to prevent your pressure washer from overheating

There are a few tips to help prevent your pressure washer from overheating:

Use the pressure washer intermittently to prevent overheating

This applies to both gas and electric pressure washers. Please do not use them for long periods. Spray with an electric pressure washer for 10 to 20 seconds, then release the trigger. This will stop the motor. Wait 5 to 10 seconds before proceeding.

This is usually when you move to a slightly different location. During this time, the high-pressure washer pump will cool down.

This also applies to gas pressure washers. In this case, we recommend stopping the engine if your pressure washer is getting very hot. You can do this after about 20 to 30 minutes, then stop for 3 to 4 minutes. If the pressure washer is out in the sun and you’re using high pressure, we’d even recommend a slightly shorter time.

Use a lower pressure to prevent the pressure washer from overheating

When you use lower pressures, the pump heats up less. In many cases, such high pressures are not needed. As you know, the higher the pressure, the hotter the pump will get and the faster it will heat up.

Use sufficient water pressure to prevent the pressure washer from overheating

When the water pressure is insufficient, the pump will not get enough water to cool. Pressure washer pumps use water to cool themselves and require a certain minimum pressure to work correctly.

This minimum water pressure varies by model; you can find it in your owner’s manual. It will be called gallons per minute (GPM). Most pressure washers available mention a minimum of 2 GPM. Most of them will work at lower pressures, with a higher chance of overheating.

Tip: If you have low water pressure in your location, don’t leave your pressure washer on for too long. Give it plenty of time to cool. Pressure washers are also rated for lower minimum water pressure.

Do not use the pressure washer in the sun to prevent overheating

When the pressure washer is in the sun, it can heat up faster. Try moving the pressure washer to a shady spot in the shade. This could be under a tree or next to another object.


You must have realized the importance of giving your pressure washing machine breaks on a routine schedule. This not only prolongs the machine’s life and prevents wear and tear. However, it will also increase the performance of the pressure washers. While downtime does suck, you can take care of other things while the machine cools down—and when you return, the unit will be ready to work more efficiently. 

Now, you’re ready to start cleaning like a pro. You’re in luck if you need a range of reliable commercial hot and cold pressure washers. At BISON, we’ve earned our reputation as China’s #1 pressure washer wholesale supplier. We have every type of machine your business needs – no matter your business line. Check out our extensive catalog or ask for advice. We’re happy about helping you get the cleaning you need. There’s nothing cleaner than BISON – and if you don’t believe it, it’s time to see it yourself!

How long can you run a pressure washer related FAQs

Electric pressure washers can also overheat. This can happen if you leave your device running while not using it. This often causes the pump to heat up and eventually damage the pump. Another cause of an electric pressure washer overheating is a fault in the power circuit.

From a bad capacitor to a faulty fuse, an overheating electric pressure washer is often a significant cause of concern as you could get electrocuted. If you cannot run diagnostic programs to determine the problem’s cause, we recommend you consult a professional service provider for assistance.

In general, leaving a pressure washer running for more than five minutes is not good. If you can’t turn it off after a minute or three, don’t leave the device idle for more than five minutes. Leaving pressurized water running will damage its inner workings, as the pump risks damage as it heats up.

The problem with pressure washers is that pulling the trigger gun ensures that water continues to flow in and out of the unit at the set GPM. Constant flow means the machine’s internal components stay cool, moslty at an optimal temperature of 60 degrees.

However, the water flow stops when you press the trigger but leave the engine running. The result is that the water in the pump is recirculated, usually under high pressure, bypassing the pump outlet. As the recirculation continues, the water continues to heat up.

Imagine the temperature of the water in the pump head rising to 145 degrees. If the water continues to heat up, the health of your electric washer is at risk. The worst will happen if you don’t shut down the system within five minutes. Overheating due to water recirculation in the pressure washer pump can damage the equipment.

Leaving your pressure washer running/idling is the last thing on your mind. If something interrupts your cleaning routine, especially if you’re using an electric washer, turn it off. But if it’s a brief interruption, not lasting more than three minutes, you can pull the trigger gun to let fresh water in. The pump will cool down within a few minutes.

As complicated as it may seem, a pressure washer is a virtual machine. An electric motor or engine drives the pump, which uses the motor or engine tip to force water through an orifice. This fast-flowing water is excellent for blasting dirt and grime.

As you know, water is pumped through the tip of the pump every time it is turned on. So when you draw more water from the hole, you need more force. Higher pressure means faster water movement and more effective removal of dirt from your cleaning surface.

There are some things you can do to limit the damage your pressure washer can suffer when it is damaged by heat. If the temperature of the pump becomes too high, a thermal valve can possibly be added to automatically shut it off.

There are dangers in using a pressure washer without water. Pumps need water to cool them; otherwise, they can overheat and fail.


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