Generators come in extremely handy when the power goes out, and just like any other machine in your home, they do need regular maintenance to continue working optimally. Whether you are using it for emergency power for your home or producing electricity for your business in remote locations, proper generator maintenance is essential.
Unfortunately, there are times when your generator malfunctions. After all, they are complicated devices and, occasionally, they break down. Thus, after you have determined that your generator needs repair, the next step is deciding on which repair contractor to hire for the job. However, finding a reliable generator repair contractor requires you to exercise some caution and do proper research before signing on the dotted line.
Common Generator Problems
1. Generator Won’t Start
If your generator cannot start, the following are the parts or conditions that would be the cause of the problem.
Spark Plug: Check whether: the spark plug is worn and damaged, the insulator is broken, the electrode is burnt, or if the electrode has a heavy carbon build up. If it has any of these, you should get a new plug.
Also, you should examine whether the plug has defects by using a tester for plugs. The tester’s terminals should produce a spark once the engine is on. If no spark is produced, it is an indication the plug is faulty and you should get a new one.
Carburetor: The generator’s carburetor may be clogged as a result of leaving the fuel too long. In time, fuel elements could evaporating creating a thick and sticky substance, which can clog the carburetor as well as cause the engine not to operate. Therefore, if it is clogged, clean it with a carburetor cleaner or get a new one.
Ignition Coil: When the engine is running, it’s the ignition coil that transmits voltage to the plug. If it is defective, the engine might not start. However, before you replace the coil, make sure the plug is working properly. If it is, use a tester for ignition coils to examine if yours is operating. If it is faulty, it needs to be replaced.
Flywheel Key: This is the small metal that connects with the crankshaft and fits into the flywheel. If the generator’s engine stops abruptly, the flywheel key can shear in half. Therefore, you need to remove the flywheel from the engine to check whether the flywheel key is broken. If it is damaged, it should be replaced.
Recoil Starter: This is the part designed to engage the crankshaft to turn the engine over. If it is defective, it might not engage the crankshaft as required. Therefore, remove the recoil starter assembly to examine whether it is working correctly. You should pull the starter rope so that the tabs extending from the cam and pulley can grasp the engine’s hub, which turns the engine. If you release the rope, the tabs should pull back while the ropes rewind on the pulley.
Start Switch: If it is hard to turn on the switch or it works irregularly, you should replace it. Use a multimeter to determine whether the switch is faulty.
Safety Switch: Use a multimeter to test whether it is working.
2. Generator Battery Keeps Dying
You can use the voltage regulator or alternator to test whether the battery is working.
Voltage Regulator: As the engine runs, the voltage regulator transmits the correct amount of voltage to the battery from the alternator to charge the battery. However, if the voltage regulator is defective, the battery will not receive enough voltage, which will make the battery to drain fast.
Alternator: use a multimeter to check whether the alternator is in a good working condition.
3. Generator Leaking Gas
The following are the main causes of gas leakage in a generator:
Carburetor Gasket/ Float Bowl Gasket/ Carburetor Bowl Gasket
If any of the above gaskets is missing or dried out, it might leak gas. If the leakage is coming from the bottom side of the carburetor, you can replace the gasket.
4. Generator Won’t Stay Running
Carburetor Repairing Kit: If the carburetor is clogged or the float bowl has bad fuel, the generator may not run for long. If the fuel has been in the engine for a long time, some fuel elements could have evaporated creating a substance that looks like varnish or shellac. The sticky substance can clog the small ports and jets in the carburetor, which as a result prevents the engine from operating.
You can avoid this problem by draining all the old fuel in the float bowl and clean the carburetor thoroughly with the carburetor cleaner. If it still doesn’t work, replace the carburetor.
Fuel Cap: As the engine runs, it consumes fuel, whose level in the fuel tank drops. The fuel cap allows air via a small vent to get into the tank to top up the used fuel. However, if the fuel cap is blocked, no air can enter into the tanks, and as a result, a vacuum occurs. The vacuum stops the fuel from flowing, which stops the engine.
But how can you know if the fuel cap is clogged? You just loosen the fuel cap slightly and start the engine. If the engine stays running after loosening the cap, most probably it is clogged, and it needs a replacement.