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Troubleshooting most common generator problems

Generators are very important in case of extended power outages. However just like any other machine, generators can malfunction and fail to serve their purpose. In that case, troubleshooting generator problems is quite important to ensure your generator operates in tip top shape.

The following are a few common problems that may cause your generator to malfunction:

Also Read: 8 steps essential for proper diesel generator maintenance

  1. The generator won’t start: This may be caused by two factors: Lack of fuel: Lack of fuel or low quality fuel are often reasons generator-set engines fail to start. Fuel quality is very important for the smooth running of the generator and should always be checked. You should always ensure water or other contaminants are not in the fuel or in the unit’s filtration or delivery systems. Low battery: 80% of generators’ failures to start are due to faults in the set’s battery. Weak or low charged batteries are quite common. Even a well-charged, well-maintained lead-acid battery will deteriorate over time. You should always ensure that the battery holds a proper charge and if it no longer does that, you have to replace it.
  2. Low on coolant: A generator may sound an alarm or simply shut down when the coolant level is low; this may be caused by a failed block heater. Not all generators are equipped to detect low coolant levels; instead, there is an alarm when the temperature of the coolant is rising. When this happens, add more coolant if levels are low, but if it persists you may need to check for a leak. Leaks commonly source back to the block heater hose since the block heater produces so much heat, which has the most contact with the hose, leading to faster wear and tear.
  3. Block heater wear and tear: The block heater is tasked with heating the coolant so that it circulates the engine block and keep the engine block warm to prevent thickening of oil. Since it runs all day there is an aspect of wear and tear that affects it functionability. Despite the fact that block heaters are often used in cold climates to start the engine, they are also essential in warm climates because they reduce wear and tear by maintaining more consistent temperatures throughout the cooling system.
  4. Leaks: A generator could be suffering from oil, fuel, or coolant leaks. The most common cause of fuel leaks in newer generators is not getting enough use, while in older generators, bad belts are more likely associated with a leak in a line or check valves failing to store fuel in engine. Nevertheless, what might seem like an oil leak in some instances is actually the result of engine slobber or wet stacking. This is the accumulation of unburned fuel, carbon particles, condensed water, and acids in the exhaust system. Legitimate leaks can occur when there is a block in the heater hoses. This can lead to extreme temperatures that can affect the hoses. Another common cause of leaks is overfilling of the base tank.
  5. Not in Auto: Generators have control panels that allow operators to manage their settings. The panels display important engine and alternator information. If the machine reads ‘Not in Auto,’ or something like ‘breakers open,’ ‘emergency stop buttons activated,’ it has likely been switched into “’Off/Reset’ via the main control switch. To fix this issue, the generator must be physically reset to turn off the alarm.

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Dennis Ayemba
Country/ Features Editor, Kenya

2 COMMENTS

  1. My generator runs for about 15 seconds and stalls out and gas leaks out from the air filter housing. Could someone give me possible solutions to this problem. I put fresh gas in the generator but there was some old gas in there already. Should I drain the gas completely and start over or is there a clog or dirt in the carburetor which should be cleaned out and what would be the best way to clean the carburetor? Thanks for any help you can provide.
    Matt

  2. Thanks a lot for your instructions in how we can use generators and maintains them in acceptable standard. So i have got some education in gen-set uses and maintenance.

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