It’s a dreary morning and you awake to find out that the power has gone out. You rush outside to your generator only to find that it won’t start! The last thing you want is for this problem to happen again, so we are going over some of the most common reasons why generators fail.
The battery may be dead
If you are running on a generator, your lights will go out as soon as the power goes out because the inverter needs electricity to function correctly. Check and make sure there is enough gas in it before trying to start it again.
There might not be any fuel or oil in the engine when you try turning it over with no luck. Always check that there’s at least two gallons of gasoline left for engines bigger than 1700 watts (i.e.: generators). The best thing to do here would probably be to get some more gas ASAP!
If this doesn’t work, then most likely something else could have gone wrong inside which necessitates professional service from an authorized technician.
It is possible that the battery has been discharged. If you are running on a generator, your lights will go out as soon as the power goes out because the inverter needs electricity to function correctly.
To check this possibility, remove one of the wires from your car’s positive terminal and touch it onto one of posts in your generator’s starter cable terminal (the other end should be touching bare metal).
If there is any spark or movement then something may have gone wrong with either the engine or some wire connections inside. This would necessitate professional service from an authorized technician.
If none of these solutions work for you, we recommend calling someone who specializes in generators like Shore Power Service right away! They can help fix the issue and get you back up on power!
Inverter is not functioning properly.
Check this possibility by removing a wire from your car’s positive terminal and touch it to an exposed post in the starter cable terminals (the other end should be touching metal).
If there is any spark or movement, then something has gone wrong with either the engine or some wiring connections inside. This would necessitate professional service from an authorized technician.
Engine is low on oil
If the engine was recently rebuilt, it may not have taken enough oil, or there might be a leak in the system.
This could necessitate professional service from an authorized technician with experience rebuilding engines and diagnosing leakage issues.
If this is not your situation, check that you have been keeping up on oil changes as per manufacturer recommendations. You should also make sure to change your filter regularly!
Alternator belt has slipped off of pulley
The alternator belt slips over two pulleys attached to either side of the engine. The other end connects with small hooks that meet up with teeth close to another set of gears connected to the starter motor inside the battery compartment.
If these hooks snap off, the belt will slip off of one or both pulleys and won’t be able to power either your alternator, which produces electricity, or your starter motor.
Belt too tight:
Check that there is a small gap between the top of the idler pulley on each side (near where it connects with the other end of the belt) – this shouldn’t pinch but should allow for some slack in case you need to adjust tension later on. If not loose enough- make adjustments so that there is room!
If battery has been charged fully before starting generator then starts up fine when engine running due to “parasitic draw”:
This is a rare occurrence and happens when there is still some charge in the battery. Remove generator from car, turn it off, disconnect all electrical connections to the starter solenoid inside of compartment and then reconnect them while engine running.
This will remove any power that may be left in charging system before starting again- If this does not solve problem than another issue may be present!
If battery has been charged fully before start up but won’t stay on:
The alternator belt could have snapped or become loose so make sure both pulleys are turning freely without being too tight or slipping off.
The spring tension can come out of adjustment which causes failure to start if tightened correctly with two wrenches as instructed by manual.
Choke is too open or too closed
If the choke is too open, turn it to the closed position. If it’s not wide enough then you may have a problem with your fuel mixture or carburetor.
If the choke is too close, turn it so that more air can get through and allow for better engine idling. You might just need adjustment but make sure there aren’t any other problems first!
Spark plug is having problems
The spark plug may have a broken or worn out boot. If the boots are good, you need to change the electrode and put in a new one.
If there is no spark coming from your generator’s engine at all then try changing different things like fuel mixture and ignition timing first before breaking down into more expensive diagnostics!
Engine compression is too low for high altitude
You will need to adjust the air-fuel ratio if you live up above 3000 feet elevation. When operating generators near sea level they should be set at 25:12 while those living higher than 2000ft would run around 20:14 instead of 23:13 as usual.
Carburetor problems can cause it not to start right away!
A bad connection in the carburetor can cause it to not start right away. If you see fuel leaking from any part of your generator, you need to replace the gasket and bolts that are located near or on top of the carburetor.
Ignition timing is off!
It may be out of sync due to a bent or broken spark plug, improper maintenance intervals, too much oil in the combustion chamber, an over-advanced (too far advanced) ignition timing.
Start with checking your battery voltage before you start diagnosing other problems. If it’s at 12 volts and below then clean and replace the air filter.
Also check for dirty fuel deliver system as well as anything that could cause excessive carbon buildup like running without gas on occasion etc…
Fuel valve or line is clogged or defective
If your generator will not start, it may need a new fuel filter. Check the valve to make sure that is functioning correctly and clear any clogs from the line or tank if needed.
This problem can also be caused by an improper supply of gas to the carburetor.
If you are using gasoline for this then ensure there’s enough in tank but also check lines and connections between storage container and regulator including an inline pressure gauge on low-pressure side of system to confirm proper pressure levels (generally 20 psi).
Clear air intake before starting!
You might have dirt buildup near your air filter – usually at base where vent pipe goes into housing.
Clear out with compressed air nozzle/canister. The gasket may be deteriorated or missing. Check the filter screen and replace if needed, then install a new gasket – use your hand to seal around it while putting in place with screws (don’t overtighten!). You might have dirt/debris buildup near carburetor intake
The battery is not connected properly or grounded well enough.
Ensure all connections are tight and that there’s no corrosion on terminals. You may need to clean terminals too!
If you’re using an extension cord, ensure both generator and extension cord has ground fault protection devices installed as required by National Electric Code® Article 406. If you have other appliances on same circuit as generator, make sure they’re off.
If you have a plug-in or hardwired transfer switch, your utility power may be out and the unit’s not getting any fuel. If it is on battery backup mode, check to see if power is flowing through normal breakers (if installed).
National Electric Code® Article 406: Grounding And Bonding Requirements For Electrical Systems (.pdf)
Pull Start Generator Maintenance Manual (.pdf) – Gas Powered Portable Generator Troubleshooting Guide.