Winter is always a dangerous time for pressure washers. It doesn’t take long in sub-freezing temperatures for the water in a pressure washer to freeze or at the very least, freeze up just enough to cause significant damage. Even small amounts of ice crystals can wreak havoc with the valves and packing of the pump. A complete freeze can cause pipes to rupture and even crack the un-loader or pump head. A good pressure washer can be a significant investment. Therefore, Every precaution ought to be taken so as to avoid your pressure washer freezing up during the cold weather season.
Winterizing Your Pressure Washer
The obvious freeze prevention is to always keep your pressure washer stored in an above freezing space throughout the winter months. However, for many reasons, this is just not always possible. Fortunately, there are other steps you can take to protect your pressure washer from sub freezing temperatures. Before I share the most effective methods to be utilized, let me eliminate one common attempt that just doesn’t work. Attempting to drain the water from your unit or even using compressed air to blow the water out of your unit is not a reliable way to protect your pressure washer from freezing. It is just impossible to get all the water out of a pressure washer this way. There are far too many places that water can get trapped in the system. Worse still is that even droplets of water can crystallize in sub freezing temperatures and cause significant damage. This method is to be avoided at all costs.
The most effective method of freeze protection is to pump an antifreeze that is rated enough below zero degrees for your particular winter climate throughout the entire system of your pressure washer. Many pressure washer owners try to skimp here in an attempt to save money and use a low grade antifreeze, such a window washing fluid, only to find out that it is not strong enough to prevent freezing in continued freezing temperatures. This can be a costly mistake and not worth the few extra dollars for a quality antifreeze. Therefore a quality automobile or camper antifreeze is the best choice for this application.
Getting the antifreeze into your pressure washer can be sometimes tricky. If you have a unit that uses a float tank from which it draws its inlet water, the process is relatively simple. With the nozzle out of the pressure line (at the lowest pressure possible) and the water feed disconnected from the float tank, run the pressure washer by continually filling the float tank with a high quality anti freeze. When you begin to see the anti freeze color clearly coming out the very end of your pressure line, the entire system is now protected against a freeze up.
If you don’t have a float tank, you can use a garden hose pump to accomplish the same results by pumping the antifreeze through the system. The unit need not be running for this to be done. As long as you are clearly seeing the antifreeze coming out the furthest end of the system, the unit is protected to the ability of the antifreeze you used to protect against a freeze up. If you don’t have a garden hose pump, you can make a float tank or water feeder tank out of an empty five-gallon bucket. Simply use a short length of garden hose, no more than 3 foot long, and while lifting the bucket above the pump, create a siphon to feed the running unit the antifreeze in the bucket. If you follow the instructions given for the float tank above, you should be able to get antifreeze through your entire pressure washer system. A more permanent, gravity flow tank can be made by putting a through hull fitting at the bottom of the pail. Simply attach a three foot garden hose connection to the through hull fitting and you have a solution that is less messy and can be used many times over. I hope this has been helpful for protecting your pressure washer throughout the winter months. From pressure washers in Cape Cod to wherever you are pressure washing, stay warm and happy cleaning!