Winter is coming, and after the snow flies, many people either need to store their pressure washer for an extended period, or keep it safe for repeated use against the below freezing temperatures. Regardless of your which you choose to do, it is always advisable to winterize your machine with a quality antifreeze to avoid costly repair and/or replacement in when spring finally comes around.
If you are going to store the pressure over the winter, it is recommended to winterize the pump and coil regardless of whether you will keep it in a heated environment or not. Even though your pressure washer may be in heated storage, the liquid inside the pump will eventually dry out and cause drying and degradation of the pressure pump seals. A quality antifreeze will not evaporate and will give the pump and coil the lubrication it needs over the long winter. Every spring, we see many unloaders and seal kits get replaced because of drying, cracking and rusting in place during storage.
If the machine is going to be in a cold environment, be it storage, or for active use, winterizing the pressure pump and heater coil is imperative. This can be done simply by removing the pressure nozzle, feeding a quality antifreeze into the pump (either via the float tank, or a rigged 5/8″ inlet connected to the pump). The machine pump should be turned on, and the trigger gun opened and shut repeatedly 4-5 times. This will ensure that the anitfreeze is being routed through the unloader and bypass lines (failure to do this will result in a replacement unloader come spring!). After the opening closing of the gun end, the pump should be run until the antifreeze comes out the end of the pressure washer wand. At this point your pressure washer should be fully protected.
Some machines, such as Alkota brand, may have a schroeder valve at the pressure outlet of the pump. This can be a handy addition, as instead of running the 2-3 gallons of antifreeze through the entire system, air can be pumped in after the pump, which will in turn blow all remaining water out of the coil and protect it for storage over the winter.
Again, regardless of your length of storage, or environment the pressure washer will be in, winterizing in Wisconsin is an important skill to know, as failure to do so can and most likely will result in expensive repairs the next time it gets pulled out for use.