When you need to use your portable generator, you expect it to work well. Even the best portable generators sometimes have issues. It's really important to treat them well to reduce technical issues and required maintenance.
Pulling your generator out of the garage and then realizing it won't start can be frustrating.
If you have this problem, do not stress because there is a good chance the problem is minor and fixable. Diagnosing the problem with your portable generator will be the first step to take. You will have an easier time solving a problem when you know the cause.
There are some common causes of a generator failing to start. Below are some of the common causes and what you can do when in such a situation.
Use Fresh Fuel
The most important thing when running a portable generator is fuel. You need to have enough gas in the tank for it to start. If you have not used your generator in a long time, consider replacing the old fuel with fresh fuel. Many fuels degrade when left unused for a long time. One way to know your fuel has degraded is by having a closer look. If the fuel looks cloudy or there has been separation then it may be time to replace the fuel. This could be the main reason why your portable generator is not starting.
Fuel that is at least a few months old and degraded may damage the engine of the generator. Remove any fuel from the fuel tank then fill it up using fresh fuel. Make sure you have emptied both the tank and the carburettor before refilling it. The ideal situation is to prevent degraded fuel from occurring. You can do this by running your portable generator dry after using it. You should also consider adding a fuel stabilizer, which can prolong the life of your fuel if you anticipate not needing to use it for awhile
Fuel is the most important thing for a portable generator; make sure you have fresh fuel.
Check the Spark Plug
To do this, you will need to pull the spark plug. If it is dirty, take some carb cleaner and use it in cleaning it up. You can also use it to clean the cylinder, provided you have removed the spark plug. Some signs of damage include cracked a porcelain insulator, damaged or burned away electrode, or a heavy carbon buildup at the electrode. If your portable generator is still not starting after doing this and the other steps, then you might need to replace the spark plugs. Just because the spark plugs appear fine doesn’t mean that they are not damaged. They can go bad and wear out while still appearing normal.
There is a spark plug tester you can use when determining whether a plug is defective. When cranking the engine, you should see a strong spark between the terminals. Before starting the generator, try clearing away deposits using a brush then try starting the generator.
Replace the plugs if they are defective. Replacing plugs shouldn’t be too much stress because they are relatively inexpensive. It is also generally recommended to purchase a spare spark plug so you can use it anytime you have this problem.
Check the Air Filter
Airflow is a must for a portable generator, and a clogged air filter can make this harder. If it is clogged with dust and debris, the carburetor is not going to get the air it needs for combustion. Accessing and inspecting the air filter is easy. Pull the air filter out of the generator and see if it is clogged. If the air filter is in decent shape, you can clean it. Give it a light whack on the counter-top or the floor to shake off the dust.
If you pull out the air filter and it looks worn or clogged up, then you have to replace it. They are relatively affordable, and having a spare air filter around may come in handy. When buying an air filter for your generator, make sure you read the owner’s manual to know the specifications of the air filter. There is nothing worse than purchasing an air filter and realizing it doesn’t fit in the generator. Some people run the generator without an air filter, but this is not recommended because you mayend up damaging the equipment, and you might have to spend a lot of money (more than an air filter) to fix it.
Check the Fuel Line and Fuel Filter
If your portable generator is still not starting, check out the fuel line and see whether there are any clogs, pinches, leaks, or cracks. There are some instances where the damage can be repaired, but in most cases, you will need to have the line replaced. This problem is not that common, but you can still have a spare fuel line if you are one of those people who like being prepared for anything.
You need to check out the fuel filters as well because they can get clogged up. IThe purpose of the fuel filter is preventing debris from traveling from the fuel line to the generator. Look for where the fuel line attaches to the carburetor then remove it. Check whether there is fuel passing through the filter.Fuel filters can get dirty and clogged as well, so check them regularly..
Clean the Carburetor
When old degraded gas reaches the carburetor, it can result in problems. They form clogs in the carburetor and this makes it harder for the new fuel to get through. There are times when using a car cleaner on the orifices and jets will work, and you don’t have to remove it. There are cases when you have to remove it. Remember carburetors can be very sensitive. You should be careful not to scratch it when removing it.
Have a good place to put the screws so you can keep track. Losing some of the smaller parts will make the work even harder for you. If it is your first and not sure about it, then consider watching videos of carburetors before doing it. There are videos you can watch that will guide you through the process. If cleaning it doesn’t work, you might have to replace the entire carburetor. Adding a dash of fuel stabilizer can help.
Generator Still Won't Start? What Else Can I Do?
- Check the oil level and top up if necessary
- Is the generator out of gas?
- Is the choke level in the wrong position?
- Is the low-oil sensor working?
- Are electronics plugged in during start up? If so, make sure they are disconnected
- Is the battery dead?
- If all else fails, check the troubleshooting section of your owner's manual! The answer may well be in there…
When all else fails, read the instructions.
Portable Generator Maintenance
Preventing a problem will be cheaper than fixing problems down the line. Save yourself a lot of expenses and stress by performing regular preventative maintenance. Read the portable generator manual and follow the maintenance schedule it lays out.
You need to change the oil after a couple of uses and check the spark plugs and air filter when recommended. Regular maintenance will help ensure your generator works well, especially when you have an emergency. It is normal for a portable generator to sit around unused for long when it is for emergencies.
If you use it only for emergencies, then make sure it runs dry. You can use a fuel stabilizer if you don’t want to do this.
From time to time, start your portable generator.
When faced with an emergency, you don’t want to start stressing and worrying about your generator not starting or running the way it should.
The worst thing you can do is let your portable generator sit and collect dust while letting the fuel degrade within the generator.
If your portable generator won't start right away, don’t panic because it could be a small problem that you can fix in a few minutes. With basic troubleshooting, you may be able to get the generator to start on your own.
If you do all the above but it still doesn’t start, then your best course of action is letting a certified technician handle it. You should look for a technician with experience in your generator brand.