How to Unclog Jet Ski?

Whether its weeds, plants, plastic, or any other material, a clogged jet ski can be very frustrating. It can also be dangerous for you and put your jet ski at risk of damage. The good news is that most of the time it is pretty easy to unclog a jet ski and get it back and running properly.

In today’s article, I will explain how to unclog a jet ski, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

How to unclog a jet ski

To unclog a jet ski, turn off the engine, hop off and look at the jet nozzle, and clear any debris. You might need to put the jet ski on a trailer and clear the intake grate

Step 1: Turn off the engine

The first step to unclog a jet ski is to turn off the engine. If your jet ski is clogged, the engine will try to work harder than usual and cause damage if you don’t turn it off in time. Additionally, you will want to turn the jet ski off so you can hop off and continue on to step 2.

Step 2: Hop off and take a look

Once the jet ski is off, you should hop off your jet ski. I recommend you do this in an area where there are not a lot of other jet skis in the area.

Once in the water, swim to the back of the jet ski and observe the jet nozzle. It is the big pump located in the very back of the jet ski. Look to see if you find any sort of blockage, such as twigs or seaweed. If the clog isn’t bad, you should be able to remove it with your hand. However, you should be cautions because there might be sharp object mixed in with the debris.

If there is too much guck to remove, or you just want to play it safe, you should take it back to shore and put it on your trailer. If you have a friend nearby, you should get towed back so you don’t wear out your engine. However, if there are no other options you can ride the jet ski back. You should go at a very slow speed, so you don’t mess up your engine.

If you have a rope stuck in the intake, you should check out my article on how to get a rope out of a jet ski intake.

Step 3: Put on trailer

Once back to land, you should prop up your jet ski on a trailer. Ideally you want to be able to access the bottom of your jet ski.

Once your jet ski is on a trailer, you should try to remove the rest of the debris with an object, such as a pole or other long object. However, you should be very careful not to stick it too far into the jet nozzle.

You should also make sure you don’t scrape against the ring that surrounds the impeller. Make sure you take your time, so you don’t cause more damage.

If the jet nozzle is cleared and your jet ski is still clogged, you should proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Clear the intake grate

jet ski intake

The intake grate is located on the bottom of your jet ski. It’s purpose is to prevent debris from reaching the engine. Sometimes large materials can get clogged in the intake grate.

You should try your best to remove any object stuck in the intake grate. However, sometimes the blockage is so bad that you need to unscrew the intake grate. This has to be done if rocks get stuck in your jet ski impeller

I only recommend doing this if you have experience with jet ski parts. If not, you should probably just take it to a shop. If you don’t know one near you, check out jet ski repair near me.

For bad clogs, the jet nozzle might need to be removed.

If you unscrew the intake grate yourself, you need to make sure that you screw them back on properly afterwards. If the grate is not screwed on and sealed properly afterwards, it can cause a lot of damage to your jet ski.

One of the keys to unclogging a jet ski is recognizing immediately when it is clogged.

How to tell if your jet ski is clogged?

The main signs that a jet ski is clogged is weird engine noise, loss of acceleration/power, and high rpms at a low speed.

A clogged jet ski will cause high rpms because the jet impeller uses water to create thrust to move the jet ski. If your jet ski is clogged, the engine will work much harder to push water through the clogged jet nozzle.

Your jet ski might also be clogged if you notice smoke coming from any part of your jet ski.

As with most problems, prevention is the best solution.

How to prevent your jet ski from getting clogged?

The best ways to prevent your jet ski from getting clogged are:

  • Always ride at idle speed when you are in shallow water. If you throttle your jet ski in shallow water, it increases the chances of objects on the bottom getting clogged in the nozzle or intake valve.
  • Don’t turn on your jet ski until you are in water that is at least 3-4 feet deep.
  • If you use any sort of rope for towing, you should put an impellor protector on the rope. This greatly reduce the chance of the rope getting caught in the impellor.
  • When you beach your jet ski, always make sure the engine is off before the jet ski touches the land.
  • Don’t ride your jet ski after a big storm. There is usually much more debris (twigs, plants, etc.) on top or directly under the water after a storm.
  • Clean and flush your jet ski regularly after you take it for a long ride. If you ride in salt water, you should flush it after every ride. You should also frequently use an anti corrosion spray. This is because salt and sand can easily get deposited in your jet nozzle if you ride in the ocean. If you don’t flush out your jet ski regularly, it will cause these deposits to build up in your nozzle over time. You should also winterize your jet ski.

What not to do when your jet ski is clogged

There are a couple things you should never do when your jet ski is clogged.

  • Never try to throttle your jet ski at high speeds to remove the debris. This will likely not dislodge the debris, and it can cause serious damage to your jet ski’s engine.
  • Don’t put your jet ski in reverse. While going in reverse can sometimes unclog a boat, this doesn’t work for jet skis. This is because a jet skis impellor always rotates in the same direction, whether it goes forward or in reverse. Therefore reversing will not help dislodge any debris.


I hope you now understand the best ways to unclog a jet ski, and how to prevent it from happening in the future. While you might not want to spend the money, the best thing to do might be to take it to a shop or call a mechanic. If you are unfamiliar with jet skis and try to do it all by yourself, you might cause more damage trying to fix it on your own.
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