Almost every young Nigerian man must have experienced the sadness that comes with starting an “I pass my neighbour” generator only to be greeted by the sound of silence. Your mind immediately enters panic mode if you have no idea what to do to get it started. Well, don’t fret as we are here to present an every man’s guide to servicing your generator before calling in for professional help.
Check the Fuel
Well this one is pretty obvious, isn’t it? This however is one of the most common reasons why portable generators refuse to start. Insufficient fuel is common especially if you’ve not used the generator in a while. You may also want to consider checking the quality of the fuel you have in the generator. Asides the quality, fuel tends to degrade if stored for a considerable long time. If this is the case, there’s a chance that fuel may have clogged up the engine of the generator. You have no choice but to call a professional for help.
Check The Oil Level
A lot of portable generators have automatic oil checks which immediately turns off the generator if there’s not enough oil to maintain the engine parts. If your generator has a separate part for engine oil, you can simply check the levels using a dipstick, and top up the oil as required. If the generator is however the type that the oil and fuel are mixed, you should ensure you follow the manufacturers instruction of the amount of engine oil to mix with the fuel. This is usually a small cup of oil to about 4 litres of fuel. Ensure you mix the fuel and oil evenly before pouring into the generator tank as not doing this may cause an uneven mixture which may cause your generator to accumulated a lot of carbon smoke in its exhaust.
More so, it is important to check if your generator may need an oil change. The manual that comes with your generator will recommend how often you should change the oil.
Generator Is Running But Doesn’t Generate Power
If your generator starts and runs smoothly without generating power, it could also be as a result of a change in the internal settings or a damage to the motor. You can diagnose this problem by using a voltmeter or ampmeter. Put the reading heads into the part where the plug goes in and compare the readings of the voltmeter with the expected readings in your generators manual. If the readings are different, then there’s an internal problem which may require the expertise of a professional to solve.
Check The Electrical Load
A common problem your generator may face is the fact that it may be carrying more load than its capacity, meaning it can’t produce enough power. Every portable generator is designed to handle a specific electrical load, which should not be exceeded. Certain types of electrical appliances require a lot of power when starting up than when they are in operation. The generator may have the ability to generate enough power to smoothly operate an appliance but may not be able to generate power for the start-up load which could be as five times more.
You can solve this glitch by temporarily putting off all other appliances temporarily till the particular appliance requiring much power is smoothly operating. Add other appliances gradually while waiting for one to settle before adding another one.
Replacing Fuses and Circuit Breakers
If you start up your portable generator and it comes on without generating any power, chances are your generator has tripped off a circuit breaker or blown up a fuse. The solution to this is to replace the fuses or reset the circuit breakers. The best way to prevent this from happening is to determine exactly what caused the fuses to blow and the circuit breakers to trip off. High powered appliances are a common culprit.
Overused or Faulty Plug
A plug is a device for delivering electric current from an ignition system to the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine to ignite the compressed fuel/air mixture by an electric spark, while containing combustion pressure within the engine. A dirty or faulty plug is one major reason generators don’t start. You should check to see if it’s still good.
The photo above shows one that needs immediate change but just in case you’re in a situation where you can’t replace it immediately, then you can clean it up. A quick fix is dousing it with a little fuel to remove the buildup of grease and dirt. A little scraping can help as well. You can manage that until you replace it with a new one.
The best way to minimise problems with your generator is to ensure that you take all precautions necessary as spelt out in the user manual. Timely oil change and general servicing even if you don’t use the generator regularly will keep it in good shape. Also, using a high quality engine oil and unadulterated fuel will get the engine running smoothly.