What do you do when your home loses power during an unpredictable winter? Don’t sit in the dark worrying about your refrigerated food spoiling; it’s up to your generator to start and keep your heating and cooling systems running. But what if your generator won’t start? It is dangerous to be exposed to extreme heat or cold without power. Troubleshooting a broken generator is easy, though. Read on to learn about the most common reasons your generator won’t start and what you can do to restore power to your home.
1. Low fuel tank
Your fuel should be the first thing you check. If your generator runs on gasoline, check the oil level in the tank and add more fuel if it is low. For generators that run on propane, check the fuel level and make sure all valves and lines connecting the propane tank to the generator are open.
Regarding gasoline powered generators, remember that stale gasoline, any gas older than two months, can damage the generator’s engine. Drain stale gasoline from the tank and carburetor, then top up the tank with fresh gasoline.
2. Low engine oil level
Oil is vital to the generator’s engine. While most generators have a sensor that will let you know when the oil level is getting low, the oil level must still be checked with a dipstick. If the oil is low, follow the manufacturer’s directions for refilling with the correct type of oil. This can be an excellent time to change your oil filter to keep your generator in good condition and avoid costly breakdowns and emergency repairs.
3. Dead battery
Just like your car, if your alternator won’t start, it could be because of a dead battery or a bad connection. Try charging the battery from a 12V DC outlet, or charge it from a car battery.
If that doesn’t work, the battery is unlikely to be the problem.
4. Plug the cable into the generator
When you try to start the generator, first check that nothing is plugged in. Even if the wires plugged in are not connected to anything electrical, unplug everything to find out why the generator won’t start.
5. Adjust the choke control
The choke valve regulates the air level in the carburetor when the engine is started. If the motor won’t turn, there may be a problem with the amount of air mixing with the fuel.
A cold engine should fully close the choke. Once the engine starts to warm up, you can adjust the choke to open fully. However, if the engine is still hot, you will need to open the choke halfway to restart the engine.
6. Air filter clogged
If adjusting the choke seems to help but doesn’t completely solve the problem, check the air filter. A clogged air filter prevents the carburetor from getting the air it needs to burn. You can easily see the air filter, if it looks dirty, replace it and move the choke back to the closed position.
7. Dirty spark plugs
If the engine still won’t rev at this point, the spark plugs may be dirty. First remove the spark plug from the socket. Replace the spark plugs if:
1. It is covered with dirt or debris that cannot be brushed off
2. Any signs of broken or cracked electrodes
3. If the debris can be removed, please carefully clean the spark plug and adjust the electrode gap according to the generator user manual.
To check the spark plugs, hold them against the engine’s crankcase and pull on the alternator’s recoil starter. If the spark plugs are working properly, you will see blue sparks. Reinstall the spark plugs and try to start the generator again.
8. Carburetor clogged
You may have drained your carburetor when you checked for stale gas, but if not, now is the time. The old gasoline forms a plug in the carburetor, preventing the passage of new fuel to initiate combustion.
To clean the carburetor, first close the fuel valve. Remove the bowl on the bottom of the carburetor and use a brush or towel to remove any debris. To clear clogs from brass nozzles, insert a needle or straight needle. When finished, reopen the fuel valve before attempting to restart the generator.
9. Fuel valve clogged
If the carburetor is clogged, the fuel valve may also be clogged. Check to make sure the fuel and vacuum relief valves above the generator air tank are open. If your alternator still won’t start, unplug the fuel hose and check to see if gasoline can flow through the fuel line. Have a bucket on hand to catch the fuel when attempting this.
Also, check the filter between the fuel valve and carburetor for clogging.
10. Fuel level sensor failure
A low oil level sensor lets you know when the engine oil level is getting low. But if the sensor fails, if the oil level is low, you won’t. Also, if you run the generator on an uneven surface, the oil level will be uneven and the sensor may misread it as low.
Place the generator on a flat surface. If the oil sensor reading is still low, disconnect the sensor and try running the engine. If it does, your oil sensor is faulty. Plugging it back in should reboot it, but if it doesn’t, you’ll need to replace the sensor.
If your generator won’t start after reviewing these common problems, or if you have any doubts about your ability to handle generator troubleshooting yourself, don’t hesitate to search for “professional generator repair services near me”.