A generator is a handy power tool that can provide you with backup power when you need it most. Whether you use it for your home, business, or outdoor activities, a generator can make your life easier and more comfortable.
However, nothing is more frustrating than having a generator that won’t start when you need it. What can you do to fix this problem? How can you prevent it from happening again? In this blog post, I will share with you some tips and tricks on how to fix a generator that won’t start and how to maintain it properly.
Possible Reasons Why Generators Fail to Start
There are many possible reasons why generators fail to start, depending on the type, model, and condition of the generator. Some of the most common reasons are:
1. Low or bad fuel
If the generator is low on fuel or has stale or contaminated fuel, it may not start or run properly. Fuel can degrade over time and cause clogging, corrosion, or gumming in the fuel system. To prevent this, you should always use fresh and clean fuel and add a fuel stabilizer if you store your generator for a long time. You should also check the fuel level, quality, and filter before starting your generator.
2. Low or bad oil
If the generator is low on oil or has dirty or degraded oil, it may not start or run properly. Oil is essential for lubricating and cooling the engine parts. Most generators have a low oil sensor that will automatically shut down the generator when the oil level is too low to protect the engine. To prevent this, you should always use the recommended type and amount of oil for your generator and change it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also check the oil level, quality, and filter before starting your generator.
3. Dead or weak battery
If the generator has an electric starter, it needs a battery to power it. If the battery is dead or weak, it may not be able to crank the engine enough to start it. To prevent this, you should always keep your battery charged and maintained. You should also check the battery voltage, terminals, and cables before starting your generator.
4. Dirty or faulty spark plug
If the generator has a spark plug, it needs it to create a spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in the engine cylinder. If the spark plug is dirty, worn out, or faulty, it may not produce enough spark or no spark at all. To prevent this, you should always keep your spark plug clean and replace it when necessary. You should also check the spark plug condition and gap before starting your generator.
5. Dirty or faulty carburetor
If the generator has a carburetor, it needs it to supply and regulate the air-fuel ratio for engine combustion. If the carburetor is dirty, clogged, or misadjusted, it may not deliver enough air or fuel or deliver too much air or fuel. To prevent this, you should always keep your carburetor clean and adjust it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also check the carburetor for any signs of dirt, debris, or gumming before starting your generator.
6. Incorrect choke setting
If the generator has a choke, it needs it to control the amount of air that enters the carburetor during cold starts. If the choke is too open or too closed, it may not allow enough air or fuel to enter the engine. To prevent this, you should always set your choke according to the ambient temperature and engine condition. You should also check your choke setting before starting your generator.
These are some of the most common reasons why generators fail to start. However, there may be other factors that affect your generator’s performance, such as faulty wiring, a bad ignition coil, a clogged fuel valve or line, a clogged air filter or spark arrestor, a low oil sensor malfunctioning, etc.
How to Fix and Troubleshoot a Generator Not Starting
Step 1: Check the fuel level and quality
One of the most common causes of generator failure is running out of fuel or using bad fuel. Make sure your fuel tank is filled with fresh and clean fuel. If you have stored your fuel for a long time, it may degrade and clog the fuel system. You can use a fuel stabilizer to prevent this from happening. You can also drain the old fuel and refill it with a new one.
Step 2: Check the battery and connections.
Another common cause of generator failure is a dead or weak battery. The battery provides the power to start the engine and run the electrical components. If the battery is low or drained, the generator won’t turn over. You can use a multimeter to check the battery voltage and see if it meets the manufacturer’s specifications. You can also inspect the battery terminals and cables for any corrosion, looseness, or damage. Clean and tighten them if needed.
Step 3: Check the spark plug and ignition coil.
The spark plug and ignition coil are responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in the engine cylinder. If they are dirty, worn out, or faulty, they won’t produce enough spark or any spark at all. You can remove the spark plug and inspect it for any signs of carbon buildup, cracks, or gaps. You can also test the spark plug by holding it against a metal part of the engine and pulling the starter cord. If you see a bright blue spark, the spark plug is good. If not, you need to replace it. You can also test the ignition coil by using an ohmmeter to measure its resistance and compare it with the manufacturer’s specifications. If the resistance is out of range, you need to replace the ignition coil.
Step 4: Check the air filter and carburetor
The air filter and carburetor are responsible for supplying and regulating the air-fuel ratio for engine combustion. If they are dirty, clogged, or misadjusted, they won’t deliver enough air or fuel or deliver too much air or fuel. This will result in poor engine performance or no engine start. You can remove the air filter and clean it with soap and water, or replace it if it is damaged. You can also check the carburetor for any signs of dirt, debris, or gumming. You can use a carburetor cleaner spray to clean the jets and passages, or use a carburetor rebuild kit to replace any worn-out parts.
Step 5: Check the oil level and quality.
The oil level and quality are important for lubricating and cooling the engine parts. If the oil level is too low or too high, it may cause engine damage or overheating. If the oil quality is poor or contaminated, it may cause engine wear or sludge buildup. You can use a dipstick to check the oil level and make sure it is between the minimum and maximum marks. You can also check the oil color and consistency to see if it is dark, thick, or milky. If so, you need to change the oil and filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 6: Check the fuses and circuit breakers.
The fuses and circuit breakers are responsible for protecting the generator from overloading or short-circuiting. If they are blown or tripped, they will cut off the power supply to the generator or its outlets. You can check the fuses by using a continuity tester or a multimeter to see if they have continuity. If not, you need to replace them with the same type and rating. You can also check the circuit breakers by looking at their position and seeing if they are on or off. If they are off, you need to reset them by turning them on.
Step 7: Check the starter switch and recoil starter.
The starter switch and recoil starter are responsible for activating the starter motor that turns over the engine crankshaft. If they are defective or damaged, they won’t engage the starter motor or spin it fast enough. You can check the starter switch by using a screwdriver to bridge its terminals and see if it cranks the engine. If not, you need to replace it with a new one. You can also check the recoil starter by pulling its cord and seeing if it retracts smoothly and spins freely. If not, you need to inspect its spring, rope, pulley, pawl, and housing for any signs of wear or damage.
How to Maintain a Generator for It to Keep On Starting When Needed
To maintain a generator so it keeps on starting, you need to follow some basic steps that will ensure its proper functioning and durability. Here are some tips on how to maintain your generator:
- Clean the generator regularly. You should use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior surfaces of the generator and inspect the cooling air slots and openings to make sure they are clean and unobstructed. Do not use garden hoses or power washers, as they can damage the electrical components.
- Change the oil and filters periodically. You should run the generator for a few minutes to heat up the oil before draining it and replacing it with fresh oil. You should also change the oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The frequency of oil and filter changes depends on the type and usage of your generator, but generally, you should do it every 30 to 100 hours of run time.
- Check the battery and connections. You should keep your battery charged and maintained, especially if your generator has an electric starter. You should also check the battery voltage, terminals, and cables for any signs of corrosion, looseness, or damage. It is recommended to replace your battery every 2 to 3 years.
- Test the generator monthly. You should run your generator once a month for about 30 minutes with a load connected to it, such as an appliance that uses a motor. This will help exercise the engine and the alternator and prevent carbon buildup and fuel degradation. If you cannot run your generator monthly, you should do it at least every three months.
- Store the generator properly. If you are not going to use your generator for a long time, you should prepare it for storage by draining the fuel tank and carburetor, adding a fuel stabilizer, disconnecting the battery, covering the generator with a protective cover, and storing it in a dry and ventilated place.
A generator that won’t start can be a major inconvenience and a potential safety hazard. However, by following the steps and tips that I have shared with you in this blog post, you should be able to troubleshoot and fix your generator problem easily and quickly. You should also remember to take good care of your generator and perform regular maintenance checks to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. I hope this blog post was helpful and informative for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.