Jun 05

Common Whole-House Generator Problems

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A whole-house generator can save your home from sudden power outages. This equipment can ensure your HVAC unit, refrigerator, and other appliances keep running while your neighbors are concerned about when their power will be restored. However, you may feel helpless if the generator fails and becomes useless. Like any other machine, you will experience generator problems at some point. However, you can save time and prevent any hassles when you know when to call professional assistance.

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Signs Your Backup Generator Has A Problem

Keep reading to learn several of the common problems your generator may encounter.

  • Spotty Power: There may be a problem if the power stutters while using your generator. An obvious sign is flickering lights, but you should also look out for appliance clocks suddenly blinking at the wrong time. This suggests that the power went out, even if it was only for a second.
  • Obvious Leaks: Puddles around your generator typically point to a leak and may cause an obvious fuel or oil pool. You need to act fast if this is the case. Call a professional right away to ensure that no damage befalls your home and generator.
  • Strange Noises: Odd sounds coming from your generator should be treated as a warning sign that something is wrong with it. Investigate if you hear popping, chattering, or metal-on-metal noises from your generator. These unusual sounds can mean that there is a faulty component. Another sound to be wary of is a sputtering sound, which could mean it was mixed with bad fuel.
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Related Article: Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Standby Generator

Problems You May Experience With Your Standby Generator

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Here are several issues your whole-home generator may encounter:

Battery Failure

One of the common issues with generators comes from an old or damaged battery. Batteries should be replaced every few years to ensure optimized performance. Using the same battery for extended periods is hazardous because old batteries can’t maintain their capacity. This then causes them to generate less power.

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Failure to Start

A generator that won’t start one day needs to be checked. See if its automatic operation controls are set. Generators automatically kick in as needed if the control switch is set in the “off/reset” position. However, the generator will not automatically turn on when needed if you pressed the emergency stop button or set off the alarms on the control switch. This may also happen after a service call when the generator requires resetting its automatic controls.

Related Article: Tips For Standby Generator Maintenance

Stalling During Operation

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The bad news is that several reasons can cause your generator to stall suddenly, and these causes usually need an experienced technician for proper diagnosis. For instance, a gas generator may have spark plug issues that can lower the generator’s performance ability.

Related Article: How To Size A Standby Generator?

Clogged Fuel Lines

Diesel generators usually have issues with blocked fuel lines, which stop the generator from working. Clogged fuel lines happen because of oxidation, wherein filthy sludge accumulates in the fuel lines and causes a clog over time. Oxidation is unavoidable, but regular maintenance and fuel treatments help keep this issue at bay.

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Low Coolant

A sensor in the generator automatically recognizes when there is low coolant. This forces the generator into a “no start” state. Pushing the generator to run despite depleting coolant causes it to overheat, as this chemical spreads the heat throughout the engine and keeps all parts at a reasonable temperature so they don’t overheat or freeze. As time passes, the high temperatures within the generator will cause the coolant’s water to evaporate, resulting in reduced coolant. 

Related Article: How Does A Generator Work?


Adding coolant routinely is a red flag that can indicate a leak. This may have a simple cause and solution, like changing a component that has become loose from the generator’s vibrations. Some causes of this issue are standard degradation from regular use or replacing the loose component with cheaper and ill-fitting products during maintenance or a service call.

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Overheating can result in significant issues. Try adding more coolant and check if the problem persists. If the cause isn’t the coolant level, anything from dirty coolant blocking the radiator core to a defective drive hose or belt can be causing the problem. Keep in mind that overheating can quickly cause lasting damage to any part of the generator, such as the rotor, bearings, exhaust valves, and alternator.

Related Article: What Is A Standby Generator?

Wet Stacking

Wet stacking is a fluid leak that can result in inefficiency in diesel generators. It occurs when unburned gasoline, oil, and condensed water stack around the exhaust system and start leaking. You may recognize this problem through its signature dark liquid. Prevent this problem by burning off any extra fuel.

Low or Depleted Fuel

Depending only on fuel gauges can result in problems like low fuel or complete fuel depletion. Gauges can fail to give accurate readings of fuel levels, especially if they become clogged with sludge. Routine maintenance and backup fuel supply help ensure this issue doesn’t occur.

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A generator needs routine tune-ups to ensure that it works properly. This also helps keep major problems from happening so your generator runs smoothly when you need it the most. Many other problems can happen with your generator, such as a dirty filter, closed shutoff valve, and insufficient fuel. Luckily, most of these problems can be prevented. Rely on a certified professional to assist you when a problem occurs so you save time and money.

Related Article: 6 Emergency Power Outage Preparedness Tips

Call Skylands Energy Service For All Of Your Standby Generator Needs

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Skylands Energy Service is one of the leading generator installation service providers throughout central New Jersey. Aside from backup generator installation, we specialize in generator repair, maintenance, and replacement services. Our team is made up of the best service contractors who are highly trained in advanced methods of generator techniques. Do not hesitate to call or contact us online today to learn more about whole-house generator installation. Rest assured, industry experts will answer all your generator queries. We offer free, in-home estimates. Call Skylands Energy Service today!

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