12 Reasons Why your Power Generator won’t Start, and their solutions

Generators are complex machines. Often complex machines have simple problems, and those problems have even more straightforward solutions. If your generator is not working, do not get worried. The solution to your generator not starting up may be very simple and require no external help in many of the cases. We have done considerable research on this topic to help you out. We have listed the 12 possible problems your generator may face while starting up and their solutions.

Let’s get your generator up and running!

Reasons Your Generator won’t start

Gas Problems: The most important thing for a generator to start and run is sufficient gas in its tank. By gas, we mean the fuel type your generator is using. It can be diesel or propane or dual fuel if your generator is a dual fuel generator by type. Make sure that you have enough gas in your generator to start and keep on running. Sometimes, your generator may have ample gas but still won’t start; this happens due to old gas.

Old gas can cause clogging in the fuel tank, or it can also reduce the output power of your generator. Make sure that you use fresh gas for your generator. Sometimes, the presence of air inside the fuel pipes, valves can also cause problems while starting up. Dealing with air problems requires running your generator for 10-15 minutes on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Spark Plug Problems: Another common problem that happens while starting up your generator is spark plug malfunction. Carbon deposits can be buildup on spark plug over time due to usage or dust accumulation. If the porcelain insulator is damaged, the spark plug needs to be replaced.

If there is a deposit, you can clean the spark plug with a small knife or any sharp pointing tool. You can also get it cleaned from a nearby auto mechanic. You can also test the spark plug before replacing it by checking for sparks. Keep the spark plug a few inches away from the engine’s case; if there are intense blue sparks, your spark plug is working fine. You do not need to change it.

Ignition Coil: If your generator is still not starting after checking the spark plug, there may be some problem with your generator’s ignition coil. Check the ignition coil with an ignition coil tester. If the result is negative, replace your ignition coil.

Air Filter Problems: Sometimes, your air filter is clogged and blocked with dust, or it only needs to be replaced. You can check the air filter quickly by opening the air filter box. If the fibers of air filter are in solid shape, a cleaning will suffice. Do not wash your air filter in any case. You can use a blower to clean it up. If you are unable to find an air filter in your generator, refer to the user’s manual of your generator.

Check out this quick video guide to clean air filter:

Oil Problems: Oil problems in your generator can happen due to two reasons. First, your generator may be low on oil. You can check this by looking at the oil sensor, if the oil is less, add more oil. Running your generator on low oil can be very detrimental for your generator, as it can reduce the life of the engine and other metal components.

A low oil reading can also be a result of uneven ground for your generator, make sure that your generator is placed at a level ground. Second, your oil-sensor may be faulty. In this case, your generator has less oil, and the sensor is showing adequate oil levels. You can check this physically by removing the oil pipe and checking the flow of the oil. If the oil is coming out fine, your generator has enough oil in it.

You can also check this by removing the oil-tank cap. If there is no oil in oil pipe, you can add more oil and start your generator for the time being. This is a temporary solution to this problem, for replacing the oil sensor, you will need help from a generator professional.

Carburetor Problems: Overtime, the carburetor of your generator can get clogged or blocked by old gasoline and a mixture of dust. This happens by storing your generator or not using it for a long time without cleaning the carburetor. You can get rid of this problem by opening the drain valve on your carburetor. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you will have to remove the carburetor, open it, clean it, and install it back. If you are not apt at doing this, you can get your carburetor cleaned from your generator company or an auto mechanic nearby.

I know it’s a technical task, check out this video to get some help, or get a professional to do this:

Fuel Valve Problems: You may be occupied somewhere else and forgot to turn on the fuel valve. This is one of the common problems with homeowners as they can easily forget such little and basic details. If there is enough fuel in the fuel tank and the generator is not starting up, it may be due to the fuel valve being closed. Turn it on and try again. Another problem with the fuel valve is clogging by old gas or dust. The first step to deal with this problem is to relieve the vacuum by opening the vacuum valve on top of the generator; secondly, you can remove the pipe from the fuel valve (inside, which goes to the engine) and check the flow of oil. If the flow is not fine, there is blocking in the fuel valve. You need to clean it to get rid of this problem.

Battery Problems: Most of the generator won’t start due to simple battery problems. The common issues are a dead battery, discharging, or lose terminals. If there are no other problems with your generator, as listed above, you must check the battery power and battery terminals. For an instant solution to battery problems, you can start your generator by using the pull kick starter. You can also start your generator by using an alternative battery. The best and long term solution for this problem is either to replace the battery or get it charged.

Choke Lever Problems: Choke position problems can also be a reason for your generator not starting up. Different generator models have different choke positions.

Choke Lever Broken
Choke Lever: but a broken one.

The best way to look into these problems is to read the user manual of your generator and see what is the right position of choke for your generator before starting it up.

Load on Generator: Make sure that there is no load on your generator while you are trying to start it up. This does not allow the generator to start working at an optimum level, and instead, it stops running. Make sure that you run your generator for at least 5 minutes before adding full load on it.

Coolant Problems: Some latest generators won’t start because of low coolant levels. If this is the case, fill the coolant to the recommended level and try starting your generator.

Cold Weather Problems: Cold weather can also be e reason your generator may not start sometimes. If all of the above problems are not present in your generator, it may happen that cold weather has become a hurdle in starting your generator. The best way to deal with this is to ensure that you keep your generator covered while not in use and do not store it in open and cold places.

Preventive Measures

When it comes to machines like generators, one should be more preventive rather than curative. Little things can help you avoid big and costly problems. Following tips can help you avoid many of the above problems.

  • Keep your generator away from dust and water. Store your portable generator in a covered area or install a shed for heavy generators.
  • Remember to change oil filters, air filters, and spark plugs on regular time.
  • Never let gasoline stay in your fuel tank for more than two weeks.
  • Always empty the carburetor before storing your generator. You can do this by manually opening the carburetor fuel pipe or switching off the fuel supply to the carburetor.
  • Test your generator every month by running it for half an hour.
  • Always keep a spare stock of spark plug, fresh gasoline, and ignition coil to avoid hassle at the time of problems
  • Remember to check the cooling system of your generator after a couple of weeks.
  • Get your generator serviced annually or on scheduled run time. It will keep your generator’s engine and other parts lubricated, free from rust, and your generator will have a long life as well.
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1 thought on “12 Reasons Why your Power Generator won’t Start, and their solutions”

  1. Hi i have a Clarke ig1000 with no spark replaced the coil pack no spark and spark plug by the way . Bypassed the low oil shut of no spark . Please help do you think it could be primary stator or is it junk thanks


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