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Generator Repairs

Generators use gas or diesel to provide emergency electricity during power outages or for providing power to tools or camping gear. This can be a standing model or a portable generator. They need regular care and maintenance to run efficiently. When generator repairs are needed, it is essential to know what problems you can troubleshoot yourself and what repairs require professional attention. Read below for repair tips that will keep your generator running smoothly.

Leaking gas or diesel 

The following generator components can cause gas or diesel to leak.

Carburetor float bowl gasket

Over time the carburetor gaskets become brittle or cracked. A faulty float bowl gasket can cause leaks from the bottom of the carburetor. If the leak comes from the carburetor, inspect it and replace the carburetor float bowl gasket.

Cracked carburetor

A cracked carburetor will leak fuel. Check the carburetor for rust or cracks. It needs to be replaced if it is cracked.

Faulty fuel line

Check all lines for any cracks or damages and replace them if necessary.

Damaged primer bulb

The rubber primer bulb can become brittle and crack, causing a leak. This component can be replaced.

Gas or diesel shut-off valve

Inspect the shut-off valve to ensure it is tightened securely. A loose connection can leak fuel. If the leak continues, replace the fuel shut-off valve after tightening it, then replace this.

Battery will not charge

The voltage regulator feeds the appropriate amount of electrical current through the alternator and to the battery to maintain a charge when in use. A faulty voltage regulator cannot feed send an electrical current, which shortens the life of the battery. Or, it can send too much electrical current causing an overcharged battery. Use a multimeter to test the alternator’s continuity. If it does not have a continuity reading, replace the alternator.

No start or engine keeps dying

First, check the gas level, then check the air and fuel filters. If these steps do not resolve the issue, there may be too many items plugged into the generator. Trying unplugging something to see if it makes a difference. If not, then check the following components.

Spark plug

Inspect the porcelain insulator for carbon buildup, cracks, burnt or damaged ends. If a spark plug is damaged, it cannot start. Use a spark multitester to check for faulty spark plugs. Do this test with the engine running. Replace any plug that does not spark during this test.

Ignition coil

The ignition coil feeds electric currents to the spark plug while the generator is running. A faulty ignition coil may cause the starting problems. Test the ignition coil with a multimeter. Replace any defective ignition coils.

Clogged carburetor

Old fuel commonly causes a clogged carburetor. Some ingredients of the fuel may disintegrate over time leaving behind a thick, sticky substance. When a carburetor becomes clogged with this sticky substance, it can prevent the generator from starting. Use carburetor cleaner fluid to try to loosen the clog. If cleaner fluid does not work, the carburetor may need to be rebuilt or replaced.

Starter assembly

The starter assembly tells the crankshaft to start the engine. Remove and inspect the starter assembly to look for damages. While pulling the starter cord, part of the pully should grab inside the engine which makes it start. Replace defective starter assemblies.

Power switch

Test the power switch for continuity using a multimeter. The switch should have electrical contact when “ON” and no contact when it is “OFF.”

Flywheel key

The flywheel key is a metal part that fits inside the crankshaft and engages the flywheel. If the motor quits working, the flywheel key may have broken in half. To check for a broken flywheel key, remove the flywheel and inspect the key. Replace if it is broken or damaged.

Maintenance

Often simple maintenance is key to a smoothly running generator and knowing you will have reserved power when needed. One of the simplest tasks to perform is starting it once a month with appliances or tools plugged in. This helps keep the carburetor properly lubricated.

Always refer to the owner’s manual, as some maintenance instructions may vary depending on the make, model or year. 

Removing the gasoline before storing

It is wise to remove the gas from a generator before storing it for any length of time. This is especially true when stored in garages or enclosed buildings. 

Checking the oil

  • Find and remove the dipstick
  • Use a cloth or paper towel to wipe excess oil from the dipstick
  • Place the dipstick back into the oil tube
  • Remove the dipstick again to look at the indicator lines to and how far up the oil is.
  • If the dipstick indicates low oil, add only enough oil to reach the recommended level. Do not overfill. 

Types of oil

Most generators require 30-weight oil in the summer and 10W-30 in the winter. However, some models may require specific types of oil, check the owner’s manual for clarification.  

Replacing a fuel filter

  • Close the fuel valve
  • Remove the filter clamps
  • Take the old one off and inspect it for dirt and debris
  • Replace it with a new one, by reversing the removal process 

Changing the oil

  • Start the generator for a while to warm up the engine
  • Place a tray under the oil pan
  • Remove the drainage cap and allow the oil to drain completely
  • Unscrew and remove the old oil filter
  • Put the cap back on
  • Use fresh oil to lubricate the gaskets of the new one and screw it on securely
  •          Fill the oil reservoir with fresh oil
  • Be careful not to overfill
  • Turn the generator OFF
  • Recheck the oil level

Inspecting and replacing the spark plugs

  • Disconnect the feed wire
  • Remove the spark plug with a removal tool
  • Clean it using a wire brush and spark plug cleaning fluid 
  • If the spark plug is damaged, replace it
  • Use a spark plug gauge to fine-tune the gap between the electrodes
  • Put the new spark plugs in and make sure they fit securely

Cleaning the carburetor

Cleaning a carburetor is a complex procedure that should be done by a professional. If you have the skill required then the procedure is as follows. It requires unhooking the fuel line and possibly removing the gas tank. To properly clean the carburetor, take it apart completely and clean each piece with carburetor cleaner and a wire brush.

Generators are useful devices in situations where there is a power outage or you need reserve power on a portable generator. With proper maintenance and care, a generator can work for many years. Some problems can be extremely dangerous; knowing when you can troubleshoot yourself and when a professional should be called is critical. 

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