Understanding Pressure Washer Pumps and Their Uses Complete Guide

Have you been wanting to power wash the driveway, decks, or other areas around your home, but unsure of how best to use a pressure washer pump? You’re in the right place!

This guide will provide you with all the information you need about pressure washer pumps – how they work and how to use them safely and effectively. Discover everything you need to know about pressure washing!

Pressure washers use high-pressure water to remove dirt, dust, and other debris from surfaces. The heart of the pressure washer is the pump, which determines the output pressure and water flow. These pumps are available in two main categories—fixed pressure systems and adjustable pressure systems. Let’s look at each type in more detail.

Fixed Pressure Systems: Fixed-pressure systems operate using one orifice size and one specific pressure regardless of how you adjust the motor speed or regulator settings. This type of system is known for its simplicity and low maintenance requirements, making it ideal for homeowners who want a reliable system without worrying about frequent repairs or adjustments. Common applications include residential vehicle washing, light to medium-duty cleaning tasks such as siding or deck cleaning, spot removal from carpets, patios, driveways and other areas, as well as light commercial use.

Adjustable Pressure Systems: This type of system is designed to operate across a range of pressures depending on how it’s adjusted by the user. It utilizes an adjustable regulator that allows for fine tuning to meet your specific needs regardless of whether you are focusing on light cleaning tasks or heavy industrial tasks that require more powerful blasts of water. This makes them particularly useful for professional/industrial users who need versatility in their pumping needs. Some common applications include graffiti removal from walls, concrete refurbishing/refreshing projects, industrial grill cleaning jobs that require high power levels over extended periods of time and much more.

Axial cam pumps

Axial cam pumps are the most common type of pressure washer pumps, typically designed for residential use. These pumps generally feature a brass head that is connected to a series of vanes inside, which can be moved in and out by a rotating cam. As the cam rotates, it increases the volume of water passing through the pump, resulting in increased pressure and flow.

Axial cam pumps are simple to use and maintain and are often chosen for their ease of installation, affordability, and dependability. However, they tend to be relatively noisy compared to other types of pressure washer pumps—be sure to take this into consideration when choosing a pump!

Triplex plunger pumps

Triplex plunger pumps are a popular choice for pressure washer applications because of their adjustable pressure settings and reliable performance. As the name implies, triplex plunger pumps contain three pistons arranged in series, with each piston controlling a separate stroke.

The basic operation is simple—as the drive shaft turns, the pistons move back and forth at regular intervals to pump fluid through the hose. The pressure can be adjusted by changing the angle of attack on the pistons, allowing you to customize your cleaning needs.

This type of pump is typically best suited for medium-duty applications and can be found in both horizontal and vertical configurations. It is important to note that abrasive materials can shorten the life expectancy of a triplex plunger pump; however, they are still very capable of reliably executing your pressure washing requirements.

Components of Pressure Washer Pumps

Pressure washer pumps are the key components that make a pressure washer function properly. It is responsible for driving water at high pressures through its nozzle and onto the surface to be cleaned. It is important to understand how these pumps work so you can maintain them correctly and know when they need to be replaced or repaired.

The most common type of pressure washer pump is the reciprocating plunger pump. It uses an intake valve and discharge valve with a chamber to build pressure in between, directing a pressurized stream of water through its nozzle head at varying levels of intensity. To maintain optimal performance, it also requires regularly scheduled maintenance such as replacing seals, changing oil, cleaning components and more.

The other popular type of pressure washer pump is the axial cam pump. This type of pump does not require regular maintenance and can pump large volumes of water at higher pressures than reciprocating plunger pumps but with less pulsations on the final output pressure. Although it can stand up to heavy use, it typically costs much more than recirculating plunger models due to its specialized design.

When selecting a new pressure washer or when choosing replacement parts for your existing machine, consider your needs carefully before making a purchase. Consider factors such as cost, maintenance requirements and desired performance level to make sure you are picking the right kind of pump for your needs.

Inlet and outlet valves

Inlet and outlet valves are two essential components of pressure washer pumps. The inlet valve is connected to the pump head, where it supplies water for the pump to use. Meanwhile, the outlet valve is attached to the spray tube, which holds the high-pressure water that is expelled from the pump. Both valves play an important role in ensuring that a pressure washer operates efficiently and effectively.

To protect your power washer and its components, including both valves, you must be sure you are using a water supply with adequate pressure and of suitable temperature range when using a pressure washer. You should also always check that any hose used to supply or drain water has no holes or cracks before use as this can cause irreparable damage to your pressure washer’s pump as well as its inlet and outlet valves.

Piston or plunger

Piston or plunger pumps are the most common type of pump found in pressure washers. Plunger pumps use an eccentrically mounted cylinder and a crankshaft to alternately draw water into the cylinder and expel it under high pressure. Piston pumps are reciprocating, meaning that the action occurs in both directions – when one piston moves down the suction valve opens, allowing water to enter, then when it moves back up it pushes that water out at high pressure. Both types of pumps have advantages and disadvantages depending on the application.

Plunger pumps offer higher pressure than pistons and vary from 2,000 psi (low pressure) to 4,000 psi (high pressure) with flow rates from 1.4 gpm (low flow rate) to 4 gpm (high flow rate). The power source for a plunger pump can be gas or electric, providing more versatility in terms of operation options. Additionally, they are simple to service if something goes wrong, since all parts can be easily accessed without taking apart all of the pump components. One downside is that they are usually more expensive than piston-style units.

Piston-style units usually have lower maximum pressures – around 3200 psi – but higher flow rates – up 5 gpm or more – which makes them better suited for general-purpose cleaning tasks where high pressure is not necessary such as driveway cleaning and large area rinsing tasks like boat washing; they also tend to be cheaper than plunger-style units but require additional tools for servicing and maintenance since some components must be taken apart from each other.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pressure Washer Pump

When choosing a pressure washer pump, it is important to consider a number of factors. First, you need to know the type of pump that is required for the job. Generally, there are two types of pumps – direct-drive and belt-driven. Direct-drive pumps are powered by an electric motor and run at a higher pressure than belt-driven pumps, which are powered by a gasoline engine or have dedicated engines to power them. It is important to note that while direct-drive pumps cost less and generally require less maintenance in the long run, they also tend to be less durable than their belt-driven counterparts as they are exposed to more movement with every revolution. On the other hand, belt-driven pumps last longer and are able to withstand higher pressure workloads than direct drive options; however, they can be more expensive and require more maintenance in order to keep them running optimally.

The next factor that must be assessed is the size of the pressure washer pump head. The larger the motor head size, the more powerful your pressure washer will become; however, it can also cost significantly more than smaller alternatives. Additionally, certain jobs may require certain types of motors due to space constraints or raw material availability (some materials cannot withstand high pressures). As such it is important that you take into consideration what type of job your pump will be used for in order to choose an appropriate size motor head for your needs.

Furthermore, another aspect you must consider when purchasing a pressure washer pump is its weight rating; this allows you to determine how much pressure it can create with each stroke. Additionally, if your pump will be in use outdoors or in wet conditions often ,it may need additional protection from corrosion and other damaging factors; this can usually be achieved with coating solutions or specific oiling techniques designed for outdoor use. Lastly there are other features such as check valves built into some models which allow for easier setup or prevent backflow from occurring as well as features like adjustable bypass valves which allow you to switch between different pressures without having to install additional equipment.

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Flow rate

Flow rate is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a pressure washer pump. It’s measured in gallons-per-minute (GPM) and is related to the motor size and pump design. For example, a small electric motor may only generate 1.2 GPM while a large gasoline-powered engine could produce up 4 GPM.

The higher the flow rate, the more water you can use to clean your surface quicker. However, it’s important to note that using too much water at one time can cause damage or deformation since pressure washers with high GPM will also generate more pressure.

It’s best practice to modify your GPM based on your intended application so that you get desired results without damaging your surface.

Pressure rating

Pressure rating is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pump for a pressure washer. Pressure ratings identify the maximum working pressure that the pump is designed for and will vary from unit to unit. The “PSI” number on a pressure washer’s label refers to the maximum PSI at which water can exit the nozzle, while “GPM” stands for gallons per minute, which is how quickly water will move through your system.

Generally, the higher these numbers are, the more powerful your machine will be. Common residential pressure washers range from 1500-3500 PSI and 1-10 GPM. Commercial machines may provide up to 80 GPM and 10,000 PSI or more.

Uses of Pressure Washer Pumps

Pressure washers come with a range of pumps, each designed with a specific purpose in mind. From light-duty cleaning tasks to heavy-duty commercial jobs, there’s a pressure washer pump built for the task.

Commonly Used Around the Home – Low- and medium-pressure pumps are most commonly found on residential-grade pressure washers. These pumps create from 500 to 3,000 psi of pressure and 2 to 4 gpm of flow. This is great for everyday cleaning tasks, such as removing dirt and grime from siding, decks and driveways.

Homeowner Heavy Duty Cleaning – Seldom used around the home except for occasional use by consumers, high-pressure pumps create up to 4,000 psi and 5 gpm of flow — enough power to tackle paint removal (within reason) and more heavy-duty projects like serious rust and stuck on debris removal.

Commercial Pressure Washing – Specialized industrial gas engine pressure washers employ “high performance” triplex pumps that generate up to 5,000 psi but usually less than 5 gpm in many cases favored by professionals who value precision over sheer power. Some industrial models also feature oil bath lubrication systems that extend the working life of the pump. This type of pump is most often used for commercial HVAC keep maintenance or prepping surfaces for exterior painting or sealing projects (among other projects).

Cleaning outdoor surfaces such as decks, patios, and driveways

Cleaning outdoor surfaces such as decks, patios, and driveways is a common use for pressure washer pumps in residential settings. Pressure washers are a great tool for removing dirt and debris from outdoor surfaces and restoring them to their original condition. Pressure washing can also be used to clean other outdoor structures, such as siding, stucco, fences, decks, stone walls and steps. By using a pressure washer with an appropriate attachment (ie: surface cleaner or downstream injector) you can quickly clean large areas with minimum effort.

Pressure washers provide an effective cleaning solution without the use of harsh chemicals or labor-intensive scrubbing. When determining the type of pressure washer pump needed for your application it is important to understand the differences between electric and gas powered models as well as their performance rates. Electric pressure washers are often more efficient than gas models due to their lower noise levels and lack of emissions when running. However gas powered pressure washers provide more power generally and will be better suited for larger jobs that require higher water pressures than electric models can deliver.

It’s important to research different types of pressure pumps before making your decision in order to find the one that will best suit your needs. Consideration should also be given to the correct size of nozzle tip needed to ensure that sufficient water flow rate is available while limiting wear on the pump itself due overworking it beyond its rated capacity.

Washing cars, trucks, and boats

Using a pressure washer to wash cars, trucks, and boats is a great way to quickly remove dirt, grime, and even rust from their surface. Pressure washers use an electric motor-powered pump to pressurize the water that’s fed from the garden hose connected to the machine. The water pressure can be adjusted depending on how much power you need for each task at hand. The pressurized water not only cleans surfaces more effectively than standard hoses but does it in less time as well.

When using your pressure washer around automobiles and other vehicles, always follow manufacturer instructions and avoid pointing the spray stream directly towards any persons or animals. Start at the top of your vehicle or boat and work your way down to ensure maximum coverage of surfaces down below that may not have been initially visible while washing from above.

When cleaning hard surfaces like driveways, always start with light pressure as applying too much force could potentially cause damage or break off chips of concrete/shingles etc., ruining the overall aesthetic appearance of these hard surfaces in the process.


The above information will give you an insight into the different kinds of pressure washer pumps available and how they work. It is important to understand the various features and specifications of pressure washer pumps so you can select the right one for your job. With proper maintenance, a pressure washer pump can last many years and provide excellent results with every use.

As a final note, remember that safety during pressurized water cleaning is paramount, and wear appropriate protective garments while operating pressure washing equipment.

Everything You Should Know About Pressure Washers (Part 1) | Eezee blog


What are the different types of pressure washer pumps?

The different types of pressure washer pumps include axial cam pumps, triplex plunger pumps, and wobble pumps.

What are the three types of pressure washer pump?

The three types of pressure washer pump are axial cam pumps, triplex plunger pumps, and wobble pumps.

What should I look for in a pressure washer pump?

When selecting a pressure washer pump, you should consider factors such as maximum pressure, flow rate, durability, and ease of maintenance.

What is the difference between high pressure and low pressure pump?

A high pressure pump can generate more pressure than a low pressure pump. High pressure pumps are typically used for heavy-duty cleaning tasks, while low pressure pumps are suitable for light-duty cleaning.

Which pump is best for high pressure?

Triplex plunger pumps are typically the best choice for high pressure applications.

What is axial vs triplex pump?

Axial pumps have a simpler design and are less expensive than triplex pumps, but they are generally not as durable or efficient. Triplex pumps have a more complex design, are more expensive, but are generally more durable and efficient.

What is the difference between AAA and CAT pressure washer pump?

AAA and CAT are both brands of pressure washer pumps. CAT pumps are generally considered to be higher quality and more durable than AAA pumps.

What is the most common type of pressure washer pump?

Axial cam pumps are the most common type of pressure washer pump.

How many PSI is a good pressure washer?

A good pressure washer should have a minimum PSI of 2000, but the ideal PSI will depend on the cleaning task.

How much PSI is best for a pressure washer?

The ideal PSI for a pressure washer will depend on the cleaning task. Generally, a PSI of 3000 or higher is suitable for heavy-duty cleaning tasks, while a PSI of 2000 or lower is suitable for light-duty cleaning tasks.

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