Generator Won’t Start – What To Do

Throughout the year, at any given time, you may lose your power. A more predictable scenario would be with storm quickly approaching your area. You are confident that you will be okay, since you have your generator on standby. Yet, when you need to use it, your trusty generator is refusing to work. If your generator won’t start, do not panic! Here is what to do in such a dire situation.

Common Core Problems When Your Generator Won’t Start

People tend to neglect checking the essentials. It can be a simple fix, versus a mind-blowing issue. Inspect the basics first if your generator won’t start, before moving onto the bigger pieces.

  • Gasoline is Clean – Look at the fuel tank to ensure that it has enough fresh gas. If the gas appears to be separated or hazy, then you will want to drain out the old petroleum. If it has been over two months since you filled it, or you are unable to recall when you last topped it off; then it is best to refuel. You may add a fuel stabilizer into the tank or run the generator dry after every use.  With proper care, you can defend against hard starts and possible blockages.
  • Low on Oil – Stand your generator on a flat area. Inspect the amount of oil in the crankcase. Add oil if the level appears to be low. If you use your generator on anything but a horizontal surface, this can cause the low-oil sensor to turn on even though there is plenty.
  • Check the Choke – Situate the choke hold to “closed” when starting the generator. When the generator is warmed-up, position it to “open / on / run”. Keep in mind that the choke can be near the air filter, or it could be on the power control knob.

Spark Plug Issues

generator won't startThe terminal on your spark plug should be clear of any debris or build-up. If it is cruddy and dull, you will not be able to obtain the proper start-up needed to make your generator work. On an annual basis, you will want to check your spark plug to ensure that it is still of good quality.

To do this, disconnect the spark plug head and remove the spark plug itself. Examine it for any impurities, split porcelain and cracked wires. If it appears to be dirty, you can easily decontaminate it with a carb cleaner. Determine that the plug has proper gap and adjust if necessary. A spark plug tester can evaluate the strength of the spark plug itself. If all else fails, you may need to replace the plug which is an inexpensive fix.

Check the Air Filter

Essential air flow that travels into the carburetor into the ignition is a definite must. Remove the air filter and inspect it for any clogs. If the absorbent filter appears to be a tad dusty, you can tap it on the floor or a countertop to shake off any excessive dust.  If it is extremely dirty and/or broken, you will need to replace it. When you purchase a replacement, consider buying a spare to have on standby.

Fuel Line and Valve

Upon checking the fuel level, and if all appears to be where it should; examine the fuel line and fuel valve for any snags, obstructions, cracks, and pinches. Position the valve to “open” which will release the proper fuel amount into the correct channels. If the fuel is still not flowing as it should, it may be time to replace the line since it can corrode over time.

Clean the Carburetor

Another area that is prone to blockages is the carburetor. If you leave your generator to sit for some time, without use, the gasoline will age, and cause issues as mentioned above. If your generator won’t start, turn off the fuel valve, and open the carburetor drain. Clean both the generator and the main jet with a carb cleaner spray.

Use caution while doing such, to ensure that you do not scratch it. Keep an eye on the screws, as you do not want to misplace those when putting the machine back together again. If you are new to doing this, you may want to further educate yourself by watching a reliable “how-to” video on YouTube and in-depth reading of the manual.

Inspect and Replace the Battery

A dead battery will provide no life into the generator and cause you additional frustration. With lack of use in electric generators, it may lose it’s charge over time. Test the amount of juice it has with a multimeter. Or, use the pull starter to add life back into the machine. If it is still causing you issues, examine the battery for any corrosion. A wire brush can clean the oxidation, when the battery is detached from the generator itself.

Ensure Proper Maintenance

As with any piece of equipment, preventative care if necessary, to maintain the livelihood of your investment. Read through the manual to as to when the manufacturer suggests inspecting. When you change the oil, go through the generator and look at the filter, wires, and lines to confirm that it will be ready for use when needed.

If you only use your generator on a “as needed” basis; run it dry to prevent old gasoline from sitting and deteriorating your machine away. If you prefer not to do such, use a fuel stabilizer to keep your lines clean for the next time that it will be in use. Do not allow for the generator to sit and accumulate dust and dirt.

Generator Won’t Start? Do Not Assume

Occasionally, owners of machinery will incorrectly speculate that it is one core issue is the problem. When it is not, they give up and discard the machine for a newer model. Instead of solving the issue, they waste money and confidence, on what can be an easy repair. Grab the manual, and/or the make and model, to look-up common troubleshooting issues and the location of the above-mentioned steps for a simple resolution. Not only will this give you a piece of mind, but also to educate yourself so that you are better prepared in the future if your generator won’t start.

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