As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Troubleshooting Most Common Problems with Your Generator

How To Troubleshoot A Generator

You have a generator and still don’t know how to troubleshoot your generator? Usually, we like to have a portable generator as our home power backup. Then an emergency situation is waiting for you with malfunction of the generator. No one likes to get stuck with “No power” situation.

Especially during any disaster, alternative source of power is your reliance. The generator is the most common alternative power source and it has some common problem that you may face. Simply you can solve then if you have a pre-knowledge.

Here we will learn troubleshooting most common problems with a generator. You need the alternative power to keep cooking, the lights, entertainment, heat blower, and other electronic device going in an emergency moment. So, you can feel now why it’s important for you and your family.

The most serious thing is without proper knowledge you won’t able to find out the problem. So, the solution is so far for you. I think you will agree with me at the point where I like to say, it’s a dangerous thing to use a machine like a generator without basic knowledge. Don’t forget to keep “Some Important Preventative Maintenance” in mind which described at the bottom of this content.

generator problem solution

What Need Most to Troubleshoot your Generator?

It’s the most important things to find out the problem first. It will help you to detect possible cause to fix the problem. So, we need to go through these 3 steps:

  1. Mark the problem
  2. Detecting Possible Cause
  3. Applying Proper Correction Method

Common Problems and Troubleshooting:

Here are 5 common problems/issues that can happen with your generator, and how to fix them. At the bottom here is few guideline for a generator user that described how he/she can do proper maintenance of your generator over the year. Not only learn then you got stuck, but you learn that before you are in an emergency situation.

Check for a Spark

It’s not running properly or you can’t start the generator? Maybe you missed the spark plug. Make sure that the wire is securely connected to the spark plug. It will also give you a nice idea about how the generator is doing.

If the plug has covered with a thick oily liquid, which means it’s getting oxygen at a little amount, but too much fuel. If it looks tan or white in color, then maybe it is getting not enough fuel but too much oxygen.

Any of them can cause of run improperly and will not give your generator a spark. Actually, it needs a little bit experience to replace it. Remember that, don’t replace it with a used one. You should replace it with fresh new one.

On the other hand it you guess it’s not serious something like that, simply some deposit and nothing serious then clean it with a clean wire brush.

If you like to fix the problem with your own hand, I will suggest you “DO NOT ATTEMPT” if you are not enough to handle this situation. Because there may be an electric shock is waiting for you.

Without spark plug when you will try to start it, you will hear air escaping. If anyone put his finger over the spark plug hole, will feel a suction. Then pushing as the motor turns.

Now, If there is no spark seems, then it may be a problem with the spark plug or the ignition system. Maybe this is beyond what you able to fix it swiftly. If you feel (or hear) no air or suction, this is also a major problem.

If you already have proper tools, now check the spark plug gap. And put your spark plug back into your engine and must reconnect the wire properly. Now, try to start your engine again. Experience says that, in most cases, the simple test discussed above able to get your generator started and working properly. Most of the time, usually it is a fuel problem.

How To Troubleshoot Your Generator

Check the Fuel: If your home generator is a gas generator, then make sure that all time you have the proper oil levels to run your generator. Every time change it on a regular basis with fresh oil.

If you don’t forget to re-fill your fuel tank and still now your generator isn’t working, then the question is, the fuel really turned on? Well, there is a valve to turn on or shut off the fuel flow to the carburetor. It is near the carburetor or usually under the fuel tank. Simply make sure that, it is turned on.

Now you found both of them fuel and valve is turned on, but not working. It may because of bad fuel. Use a flashlight to check the tank. Is there any globs floating inside, around the fuel? If yes, that means there is condensation in the fuel tank. Your fuel is contaminated.

If there is fuel in the tank and the valve is turned on, the fuel may be bad. Shine a flashlight in the tank and see if you see “globs” floating around inside the fuel. If you do, this means there was condensation in the tank and the fuel is contaminated. Change your fuel or pour dry gas into the fuel.

It’s easy to check fuel lines of the generator. If you see they are massively full of junk or clogged up then you must need to replace them. Don’t worry! It’s an inexpensive and quick fix. You can get them at the auto parts stores or the hardware stores for the replacement.

It’s the similar problem like the fuel lines. If your fuel filter is junked up then it is going to make problem to work your generator properly. Inline filter is common in the most generators. You can check this by disconnecting your fuel line at the carburetor.

Now look, if there is no gas draining out of your fuel line when it’s held over the container. Then your fuel filter needs to replace. It’s also an easy and cheap fixing. You should worry about how to replace it”. There are many useful and nicely described video on YouTube. Just watch them before doing it.

Read our Best Home Generator Article To know More.

This problem happens rare, but when it does, nothing hard work here to fix this. Replacing the pull cord is an easy task but your need to be careful and make sure that, you wind the spring entirely just before you put the brand new cord around your starter mechanism. If not, your generator will not work at all what you don’t like to face.

Lack of Air

Your engine needs pure air for the burning of the supplied fuel from the tank. This process is nicely accomplished by the air filter and the choke on your engine. You need to make sure that the position of choke is in the proper place for starting the motor. It’s a common issue that, not having your choke in the right position can simply prevent your engine from starting; especially in a colder weather.

So, find out the air cleaner on your engine. Keep in mind that, it is usually a plastic or metal can be attached to the carburetor with some holes on the sides or bottom and a single latch or screw to hold it on. And, it will either have a paper or foam filter.

Now, remove the air filter from its place and try to start your generator several times to eliminate the lack of air. Don’t forget to make sure that the choke is in the right position also. After checking, if the filter found as dirty, then try clean it with carburetor cleaner. Now, try to start your engine again.

It is also an easy fixing on a generator to replace the breakers. The important things you need to keep in mind that, always use manufacturer’s parts, don’t try generics. Here another thing is to mark your wires properly with electrical tape so that would help you to know where to reattach them exactly to the new equipment.

Here are some quick checks. It would be better if I have mentioned them at the top of the writing. The troubleshooting is actually a process of elimination. Here each step you take will eliminate one of your possible problems at a time.

Sometimes you will need few simple hand tools to complete the process. So, don’t try to buy them or to collect them after having a problem with the generator. Just buy some simple tools at the same time when you willing to purchase the generator.

Sometimes quick checks work simply to get a generator running again without hard work. I think, everyone should do few quick check as the first opportunity of troubleshooting. Don’t forget to do them even in an ‘oh crap’ moment!

– Have some starting fluid, and spray them a little amount into the air filter then try to start your engine. Very simple task but sometimes it is just. Check, if your engine starts and dies quickly after that, then go and continue troubleshooting.

– In the case of electric start and it won’t do anything then need to jump your battery like what you do with a car. First check deeply, for sure you should replace them and then put red (+) to read, and black (-) to black. Now try again to start the engine. Mind it that, the battery is needed for only to start your engine. So not required anymore, once it is running.

Complete these quick check before you start troubleshooting. If it works, then OK. If not, then continue with troubleshooting.

Some Important Preventative Maintenance

Here is a few preventive maintenance that could help you to prevent your machine from getting any trouble. Don’t forget to do maintenance with a regular routine. It would also reduce the risk of your generator. So why not you care about that?

  • Don’t forget to have a fresh supply of gas every time.
  • Don’t forget to keep a new spark plug with the simple proper tools that you need to repair your generator. You can buy a small cheap toolbox available in the market.
  • Every time must shut off the gas properly and let your engine die on its own. It could prevent the gas completely from going bad in your carburetor.
  • Always test run your generator properly and besides this test the electric every month.
  • Every time use a good fuel stabilizer in your tank or in the spare gas can. Both can sit for several months completely without being used anymore and go bad.
  • Every time have a spare air filter or cleaning chemicals that recommended by manufacturers for your air filter.
  • Don’t forget to have a good can of carburetor cleaner, starting fluid, and dry gas handy.
  • You should check and service the generator by professionals at least once a year and have your oil changed.

Maybe you are thinking, it’s huge! You should keep in mind that, this generator can save your life and works for you in an emergency situation. Someone who takes cares you in an emergency, why not you should care him properly too? If you are careful to keep the generator well maintained properly and check these things often, you will be able to encounter the problems when it matters most.


Actually, I mentioned a few but mostly happened issues that may come up anytime with the generator over the years. However, it is important for you to get as much necessary information as you can especially for the troubling situation.

You will find nothing to help you but these tips help you most to get rid of the emergency situation. It’s not a wise thing to use any critical machine like a generator and no knowledge about troubleshooting. So, Now you know how to troubleshoot your generator.

At the end of this writing, I like to say that, it is most important to know the problem before you start troubleshooting. Only getting your problems resolved by a post is not sufficient for you to overcome the emergency situation. Learn more and keep safe yourself.

Leave a Comment