How to Hook Up a Pressure Washer – A Guide on Setting Up

So, you’ve done your research and finally decided on the perfect pressure washer for you to buy. You put the order in, and just a couple of days later, the machine arrives in the mail, all shiny and new. Excited, you tear up the package and unpack the machine from its box, ready to assemble it and FINALLY clean that dirty patio after so long.

Just one problem though: you haven’t the faintest idea how to set up a pressure washer.

Well, no matter. After reading our guide, you’ll know all the ins and outs of how to set up a pressure washer and will be set to clean in no time at all. Here’s how you do it:

A step-by-step guide

Step 1 – Clean and prep the water hose

A pressure washer takes water from your tap through a hose and sprays it out from its nozzle end, after adding more power to it from the motor that runs inside it. Any regular hose will do in this case (though your pressure washer should come with its own water hose), so long as it is roughly the right size that can fit into your pressure washer opening (consult your product’s manual for the right size).

However, before you can connect your hose to the pressure washer, you need to first make sure it’s clean of debris and thoroughly rinsed, or you might end up damaging the motor. So, before you proceed to the next step, connect your hose to your house’s water tap and let water flow out from end-to-end for at least 45 seconds so that all dirt and debris is washed out. 

Step 2 – Attach the water hose to your pressure washer 

Once the water hose is clean, you can proceed with attaching it to the pressure washer. Keeping the water tap turned off, locate the water inlet on the pressure washer, usually found on the back towards the bottom of the washer, and marked with either a clear label or a blue valve. Screw the hose in place, making sure the joint is airtight.

Step 3 – Attach the high-pressure hose to your spray gun

After you’re done with the water hose, it is now time to attach the spray gun or lance to the pressure washer. It is important that you use a high-pressure hose for this job, preferably the one that came with the pressure washer itself, since a regular hose cannot withstand the enormous pressure your washer will output.

As before, locate the high-pressure water outlet on the pressure washer and securely connect one end of the high-pressure hose to it. Connect the other end of the hose to the inlet on the spray gun (screwing it in a valve or pulling back the valve to snap the hose in place, depending on your model), taking care to secure it tightly as well.

Step 4 – Choose your nozzle

With both hoses tightly attached, you can go about selecting the nozzle you want to use for your cleaning job. Your pressure washer should have come with a set of nozzles, usually as a set of 5, that connects to the spray end of your spray gun. Each tip offers a different kind of wash, and is best for use in different scenarios:

Color Spray pattern Best for
Red  0 degrees Metal, concrete
Yellow 15 degrees Driveways, gutters
Green 25 degrees Decks, vehicles
White 40 degrees Siding, stucco
Black 60 degrees Applying detergent

(The higher you go in the list, the harder the job the nozzle is best for)

On the other hand, your pressure washer may come with a multi-nozzle tool or have a lance that may be able to change spray patterns with a twist of a knob. In this scenario, you needn’t worry about swapping out tips for different cleaning jobs.

Step 5 – (Optional) Set up detergent compartment

Your pressure washer may come up with its own dedicated detergent compartment, which, even though it isn’t necessary for using a pressure washer, is something we highly recommend you use since a little soap goes a long way in making a cleaning job easier.

Setting up this compartment is very simple: just pick a bottle of your favorite, outdoors-friendly, all-purpose detergent and fill the entire detergent compartment with it. You’ll find the detergent compartment on the side or attached to the body of the pressure washer.

Step 6 – Relieve pressure from inside the pressure washer

With the two hoses, nozzle, and detergent tank set, it’s time to turn on the water tap and let water flow into your pressure washer. But before you can switch the machine on and start cleaning, you need to first get rid of the excess air inside the washer and hose; otherwise you could damage your washer’s motor in the long run.

To relieve this pressure from inside the machine, simply turn on the water tap and squeeze the trigger on the spray gun to let the air out. Keep the trigger squeezed until all air has been pushed out, and water from the tap starts flowing out at its own pressure. Wait another 5-10 seconds to let the stream consistently flow before letting go of the trigger.

Step 7 – Plug in your pressure washer

Nothing too complicated about this step, just plug in your pressure washer to a nearby GCFI socket, turning the main power on. However, make sure to keep the power cord and any extension cables far from the water spray; otherwise you might risk short-circuiting the appliance, or worse, end up electrocuting yourself (For more details on how to use a pressure washer safely, click here).

And that’s basically it. Switch on your pressure washer and use the spray gun’s trigger to launch a stream of high-pressured water on to your target for clean-up. Just as long as you keep out of the way of the stream and don’t point it anyone (rule 1 and 2 of pressure washer safety), you’re good to go.