Why Won’t My Generator Kick On?

You installed a standby generator for one reason: to survive inclement weather and power outages without extreme disruptions to your daily routines. When this emergency generator refuses to kick on at the most critical moments, at best, you’re left feeling like you want to pull your hair out, and at worst, you’re concerned about your family’s health and safety.

The good news is that troubleshooting problematic generators is simple. Follow this comprehensive guide on the top reasons your standby generator will not turn on to determine if you need to make small tweaks or schedule a generator repair in Philadelphia.

Your Generator Has Low Fuel Levels

When your generator will not start, you should first check the appliance’s fuel levels. If it’s low on gasoline or propane, add more fuel or replace the propane tank. It’s also important to note that gas can become stale after two months and damage the generator’s engine. So, if it’s been a while since you last refueled your backup generator, drain the fuel tank and carburetor before adding fresh gas.

The Engine Needs More Oil

Just like your car, your standby generator will start to run inefficiently if its oil levels are not replenished on a routine basis. You could even experience complete engine failure that leaves you in desperate need of an emergency repair. To avoid these complications, keep an eye on your generator’s oil levels. Most generators are equipped with a sensor that will alert you when the levels become too low, but you may want to check it manually using a dipstick on occasion. If you need to add more oil, make sure you use the recommended type from your manufacturer.

The Oil Sensor Is Not Working

Did a manual check with a dipstick show that your generator’s engine has the right amount of oil? If so, the reason your standby generator isn’t turning on could be due to a malfunctioning oil sensor. Try unplugging the wire from the side of the crankcase. If the generator starts after this wire has been disconnected, you know the oil sensor is broken. You may be able to reconnect the sensor after the engine has been running for a few minutes and notice that the sensor works once again. If this isn’t the case, however, you will need to hire a service technician to replace the oil sensor.

The Generator’s Battery Is Dead

If your generator’s fuel and oil levels are in tip-top shape, your generator may be refusing to kick on because it has a dead battery or loose connections. Preventative maintenance can help you avoid these problems by keeping a close eye on the charge rates of the battery. However, battery failure can sometimes be unpredictable. If you suspect the battery is the source of your problems, try charging it using a 12-volt DC outlet. If you still can’t get your generator to work, you’ll need to keep investigating the problem.

There’s Air in the Fuel System

Air is not your generator’s best friend. It only takes one pocket of air in the fuel system to cause the engine to not kick on. If you’ve occasionally switched on your standby generator during maintenance, this likely isn’t your problem since a running engine isn’t susceptible to air bubbles.

Your Generator Has a Clogged Air Filter

When your backup generator won’t turn on, it may be affected by a dirty air filter. A clogged filter prevents air from getting to the carburetor. The good news is that this is a simple fix. If the generator’s air filter is dirty, take it out and replace it with a new one.

The Carburetor Needs to Be Drained

We mentioned earlier that stale gas could clog a fuel tank. It can also jam up the carburetor, keeping fuel from reaching this part to initiate combustion. If you suspect your generator is harboring old gasoline, go ahead and clean out the carburetor.

First, close the fuel valve. Then, use a brush or towel to clean out the debris from the bowl at the bottom of the carburetor. Use a needle or pin to clear clogs from the brass jet nozzle. Finally, put the bowl back, turn the fuel valve on, and restart the generator.

The Fuel Valve Is Blocked

 If the carburetor is clogged, the fuel valve is also likely affected. Double check that the fuel and vacuum relief valves are open. Then, unplug the fuel line and make sure gas can flow through this hose. You will want to have a bucket nearby to catch any fuel when you disconnect the line. If gas flows freely, check to make sure the fuel filter isn’t clogged.

The Spark Plug Is Dirty or Worn

If your standby generator still won’t kick on after following the above troubleshooting tips, the main culprit may be a dirty spark plug. Carefully remove the debris with a brush. If the spark plug has dirt that can’t be removed with gentle pressure or has broken electrodes or cracked porcelain, your only recourse is to replace the plugs.

Let Our Professionals Troubleshoot Your Generator

If you’re still having trouble getting your generator to kick on, or you question your ability to handle the troubleshooting process yourself, turn to the experts at Colonial Generators. Our repair technicians can get to the bottom of your generator problem and provide dependable solutions so you can live life uninterrupted. And if your system is beyond repair, we’ll help you choose a new model. We carry a range of top-of-the-line generators, including Kohler generators for sale, and provide generator financing options to ensure you have the power you need to live life to the fullest.

For more information about our generator services and financing options, contact our team today!