6 Signs Your Generator May Need Repair or Servicing

If your generator isn’t operating the way it did when it was first installed, there might be something wrong. 

Just like you always want to check your car at the first sign of trouble, it’s best to have a temperamental generator checked out. Small problems can cascade into bigger, more costly issues if they aren’t taken care of in a timely manner.

Here are some signs your generator may need attention:

1. You see visible damage.

This seems like an obvious sign, but some homeowners choose the “ignore it and it’ll go away” option. Let us assure you: neglecting visible damage on your generator will certainly not make it go away. 

Things to look out for include wires that appear loose, worn, or frayed. Additionally, one of the most common issues we see is the classic ripped broken pull cord on portable generators. Check out our post for replacing the cord yourself or give us a call.

Visible damage on exterior automatic generators is common as well, due to previous hurricane storm damage or even from troublesome outdoor pests. Look for corrosion, dents, chewed wires, or other evident signs of imperfections on your unit every six months, if not more frequently.

2. You’re experiencing start-up delays.

If your generator doesn’t start right away or hesitates when trying to fire up, this could be a sign of internal problems. Commonly, this could mean the generator is working with bad or old fuel, that sludge is caught in the tank or lines, or that it’s time to replace your fuel filter.

Even if the generator starts on the third or fourth try, issues like this shouldn’t be ignored. Next time you go to use it, it may not start at all.

3. Your power is inconsistent. 

This is another case of the “it works ‘good enough’” state of mind. If you’ve ever thought this, we bet your generator is providing power, but not consistently. It has a nasty habit of turning on and off whenever it feels like it. 

We hate to break it to you, but this could be a sign of internal damage. Flickering lights or inconsistent power supply from a generator could also be a sign that you don’t have the appropriate wattage generator for your electrical needs. Be sure to read our article on “How to Find the Right Sized Generator” to ensure your power source has enough juice to maintain your home or business appliances and lights.

4. The generator is running, but it’s not putting out any electricity. 

This one is tricky, because it could be a problem with your generator, or, it could be a problem with your breakers. This is definitely a matter for your trusted electrician to solve. They can test your electric panel to determine if that’s the problem or not, or poke around inside your generator if that’s the culprit. 

5. You notice a strange smell or noise.

Your generator should never emit an unusual smell. This could be a sign of a gas leak, and is an evident fire hazard and health safety concern. 

Similarly, bizarre sounds like squeaking, humming, and rattling are not normal noises you should ever hear your generator making. These could all be caused by a number of factors, from low fuel to an overworked unit, but can be hard to diagnose without the help of a professional.

6. You haven’t started the generator in more than 6 months.

Most electricians would agree, running your portable generator every few months will keep the electric starter’s battery fresh and charged. Even automatic generators can benefit from a good, ol’ test fire, just to make sure nothing is awry when you actually need it.

Usually home and business owners alike discover their generator has issues after sitting idle for long periods of time. Sometimes, the fix just requires quick maintenance care, but other times the damage is more costly and extensive— especially if there’s sludge in the lines or corrosion from inactivity. 

Prevention is the Best Medicine

While this advice isn’t much help if your generator is already failing, it still holds true. Routine maintenance will help identify any potential problems before they become severe. Aside from this, regularly scheduled maintenance can extend the life of your generator and improve its efficiency, saving you money in the long run.

Have a portable generator? Check out our Tips for Maintaining & Servicing Your Portable Generator here.

If your generator is a permanent automatic unit, it’s sometimes best to leave the inspection and servicing to the professionals. 

Choose a Licensed Service & Maintenance Professional

While it may be tempting to try and service your generator yourself, as with any electrical repair, this can be dangerous. You could get hurt, you’ll void any warranty, and you may inadvertently cause more damage that you’ll need a licensed, certified technician to repair.  

The same goes for hiring a general handyman or other unlicensed, uncertified repair professional; you run the risk of further damage to your generator from improper fixes, which could affect you both immediately or later when something fails.

Bottom line, if your generator is in need of repair or if you are ready to start a regular maintenance schedule, contact us today. We service generators of all types and sizes, from small, home emergency backups to large commercial generators— in all of Lee County.

Discover what makes our team at SWFL Electric different from other electricians in the area, and explore our generator repair services.