Generator Runs but No Power? Here’s How to Troubleshoot a Generator


Are you having trouble with your portable generator? Generators are often seldom used, and that can spell problems if you allow them to sit for too long. Most of the time generators are used in times of emergency such as a power outage.

If your backup generator isn’t working, then you may up end up asking yourself – what’s the point of this thing?

Luckily, if you are having problems, there are steps to troubleshoot a generator. Read on to learn the top reasons for generator failure.

Generator Won’t Start

A generator that won’t start could have a number of different issues. Let’s go over the basics and check the following because one of these may be the culprit.

Dirty Carburetor

Most small engines use a carburetor in order to start the engine. Over time, the orifices of the carburetor can get gunked up, causing fuel not to pass through. When fuel doesn’t get through the carb, it will definitely cause a no-start situation.

Dirty Fuel Filter

Make sure to check the fuel filter for any excessive dirt and debris. The purpose of the fuel filter is to make sure no debris goes through the line.

If the filter isn’t changed, it could be plugging up the fuel line. If you’re wondering why your generator isn’t starting, consider changing the fuel filter and see if that fixes the problem.

Generator Runs Rough

A generator that runs roughly can put stress on the generator and can cause power fluxations to whatever is plugged into it. Check these problems below if your generator is running rough.

Spark Plug

A small engine will run rough due to a damaged spark plug. Over time, a spark plug can get worn out, which causes the electrode to burn away. When this happens, the fuel to air ratio gets messed up, causing the unit to run rough.

When dealing with a generator running, but not properly, try changing the spark plug.

Defective Carburetor

If the generator is running rough, it may be due to a defective carburetor. Old fuel can sit in the bowl of the carburetor, which can create problems to the air to fuel ratio when it ignites.

If you’ve cleaned the carburetor and it’s still running rough, try replacing the carburetor itself.

Low Power Output

If you’re experiencing a lower power output than usual, there can be a number of problems wrong with the generator. Check these common problems that cause low power.

Check the Drive Belt

If you hear a squeal coming from your generator, it could be a sign that your drive belt is loose. If the drive belt is loose, it can cause your power output to below or nothing at all.

Check your manual for instructions on how to tighten it.

Faulty Voltage Output Regulator

Most Generators come equipped with a voltage regulator. This device regulates how much power the unit sends out. If the Voltage regulator is going bad, It can give you low, to no output.

Consider replacing it if you are getting no voltage from your generator.

When to Troubleshoot a Generator

It’s ideal to troubleshoot a generator when you see a problem arise with your unit. Also, keep in mind that preventative maintenance is key for a problem-free generator. Make sure you run the unit to exercise it, and change the oil often.

Following these tips will hopefully get your generator up and running again. If you’re still having problems, you can consider a generator hire option in case you cant fix the problem.

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