Common Whole-House Generator Problems

A whole-house generator can save you from unexpected power outages. This equipment can ensure that the HVAC system keeps you comfortable, the refrigerator is running, and other benefits. However, a generator that isn’t responding means your safety net has gone down the drain. Like all machines, your generator will experience a problem at some point, but you can save a lot of time and hassle when you know when to contact a professional for help. Keep reading to learn more about several common generator problems homeowners experience.

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Signs Your Backup Generator Has A Problem

Below, we discuss some of the signs that you may notice when your power generator requires attention.

  • Spotty Power: An issue may be present if the power stutters while using the generator. An obvious symptom is flickering lights, but you should also check appliance clocks. If they suddenly blink at the wrong time, this indicates the power went out, even for just a second.
  • Obvious Leaks: Puddles around the generator usually point to a leak which may lead to an oil or fuel pool. You should call a professional immediately if this occurs to prevent damage to your home and generator.
  • Odd Sounds: Strange noises should serve as a warning sign of a problem with your generator. Investigate when you hear noises like metal on metal, chattering, or popping. These sounds can be because of a defective component. Another cause for concern is a sputtering sound, indicating bad fuel was mixed.
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Problems You May Experience With Your Whole-House Generator

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

Power Generator Battery Failure

One of the most common issues generators experience is due to an old or damaged battery. Batteries should be replaced every several years to achieve optimum performance. Utilizing the same battery for a longer period is highly risky as old batteries cannot maintain their capacity and produce less power.

Related Article: Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Standby Generator

Backup Generator Fails to Start

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Ensure the automatic operation controls are set if your generator suddenly won’t start. Generators will automatically start up when necessary if the control switch is positioned in the “off/reset.” However, setting off the alarms on the control switch or pressing the emergency stop button will mean the generator won’t automatically start when needed. This may happen after a service call when the generator requires resetting its automatic controls.

Related Article: Tips For Standby Generator Maintenance

Generator Stalls During Operation

The bad news is that a generator that suddenly stalls are due to a few causes, and they typically need an experienced professional to assess and diagnose the problem. For instance, a gas generator may display spark plug issues, reducing the generator’s performance abilities.

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Clogged Power Generator Fuel Lines

Diesel generators sometimes have problems with blocked fuel lines, causing the generator to stop working. Oxidation causes this to occur, wherein filthy sludge accumulates in the fuel lines and eventually clogs the lines. It can’t be prevented, but regular upkeep and fuel treatments can help avoid this issue.

Related Article: How Does A Generator Work?

Low Coolant

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A sensor automatically determines if there is low coolant. Without the proper amount of coolant, the generator goes into a “no start” state. Operating the generator even if the coolant is depleting results in overheating as this substance spreads the heat around the engine and keeps all parts at a reasonable temperature so they don’t freeze or overheat. As time passes, the water in the coolant will evaporate due to the high temperature within the generator, causing the coolant to keep depleting.

Related Article: How To Size A Standby Generator?

Whole-House Generator Leaks

Adding coolant routinely is a red flag because this points to a leak. This issue may be due to a simple problem, such as a part that has come loose from the generator’s vibrations. Standard degradation from use as time passes and cheap products that don’t fit in properly but were put in during upkeep or a service call may cause this issue.

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Overheating On-Demand Generator

Major issues can happen from overheating. Check if the problem persists even if more coolant is added. If the coolant level isn’t the issue, the problem can be due to reasons ranging from a dirty coolant clogging the radiator’s core to a defective drive belt or hose. Keep in mind that overheating can quickly result in lasting damage to any of the generator’s parts, like the rotor, bearings, and exhaust valves.

Related Article: What Is A Standby Generator?

Wet Stacking

A fluid leak called wet stacking may cause inefficiency, which is a problem if you have a diesel generator. It occurs when unburned gasoline, oil, and condensed water stack around the exhaust system and start leaking. It has a signature black material that makes this issue recognizable to professionals and homeowners. This problem can be prevented if you burn off the extra fuel.

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Low or Depleted Fuel

Depending only on the fuel gauges can result in problems like low fuel or total fuel depletion. Gauges can fail to provide accurate level readings, especially if they become blocked with sludge. This problem will never pop up if your generator receives routine maintenance and has a backup fuel supply.


A generator needs routine maintenance to ensure that it runs smoothly and that big problems do not happen. This way, your generator works as it should when you need it the most. Many issues can happen with your generator, like a dirty filter, a closed shutoff valve, and not enough oil. However, most of them are preventable. Save money and time by depending on a certified professional to care for your generator when a problem occurs.

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Call Tevis Energy For All Of Your Standby Generator Needs

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Tevis Energy is a leading generator installation services provider throughout central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. Aside from backup generator installation, we also offer generator maintenance, repair, and replacement services. We only have the best service contractors on staff, and they are well-trained in the most advanced generator techniques and methods. Call or contact us online today to know more about whole-house generator installation and services. Our industry experts are ready to answer all your generator questions. We offer free, in-home estimates. Call Tevis Energy today!

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