Damage to the pump caused by air bubbles imploding in the water flow. Using the wrong nozzle or running the pump dry can contribute to cavitation.

Related terms: cavitation damage, cavitation noise

Cavitation, Pressure Washing & Power Washing

Cavitation refers to a phenomenon that occurs in pressure washers and power washers when air bubbles form within the water flow and violently collapse. This rapid implosion of air bubbles creates shock waves that can damage pump components, leading to costly repairs and reduced performance.

Causes of Cavitation:

Several factors can contribute to cavitation in pressure washers and power washers:

  • Incorrect nozzle size: Using a nozzle that is too large for the pump’s capacity can create excessive suction, drawing air into the water flow.
  • Running the pump dry: Operating the pressure washer without sufficient water can lead to air entering the system and causing cavitation.
  • Leaking suction hose: A leak in the suction hose can allow air to enter the water flow and contribute to cavitation.
  • Worn pump components: Over time, pump components like impellers and seals can wear down, leading to increased suction and the potential for cavitation.
  • Low water pressure: Insufficient water pressure from the source can also contribute to cavitation.

Signs of Cavitation:

If you suspect that cavitation may be occurring in your pressure washer, look for the following signs:

  • Loud grinding or rattling noise: The collapsing air bubbles create a distinctive noise that sounds like gravel passing through the pump.
  • Loss of pressure: Cavitation can reduce the pump’s output pressure, making it less effective at cleaning.
  • Vibrations: The shock waves from collapsing air bubbles can cause the entire pressure washer to vibrate excessively.
  • Air bubbles in the water flow: You may see visible air bubbles in the water stream coming out of the pressure washer.

Preventing Cavitation:

To prevent cavitation and protect your pressure washer, follow these guidelines:

  • Use the correct nozzle size: Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate nozzle size for your pressure washer’s pump.
  • Avoid running the pump dry: Prime the pump properly before each use and ensure there is always sufficient water supply.
  • Check for leaks: Regularly inspect the suction hose for leaks and repair them promptly.
  • Maintain your pressure washer: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for regular maintenance and replace worn components as needed.
  • Ensure adequate water pressure: Check the water pressure at your source and ensure it meets the minimum requirements for your pressure washer.

Cavitation can be a serious problem for pressure washers and power washers, leading to costly repairs and reduced performance. By understanding the causes and signs of cavitation, you can take steps to prevent it and ensure the longevity of your equipment. If you suspect cavitation is occurring, it is important to stop using the pressure washer immediately and address the underlying cause before resuming operation.