Common Whole-House Generator Problems

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A whole-home generator can save your home from unexpected power outages. These machines ensure that your refrigerator keeps running, the cold or hot air is flowing, and all devices are working while your neighbors are worried about when the power will return. However, a standby generator that doesn’t work as it should means you have no safety net, which can certainly ruin your day. Like all mechanical devices, a backup generator will eventually encounter an issue. However, you can save time and hassle when you know when to call a professional for assistance. This article discusses common backup generator problems.

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Signs Your Backup Generator Has A Problem

Keep reading to learn more about several likely issues that a homeowner may experience with their generator.

  • Spotty Power: There is a problem if the power seems to stutter while using your generator. Flickering lights may be an obvious sign, but you should also be mindful of appliance clocks that are suddenly blinking. This suggests that the power went out, even only for a second.
  • Obvious Leaks: Puddles around the generator typically indicate a leak. The leak can cause an obvious fuel or oil pool. You need to act quickly and call a professional. This way, you can be sure that your home and generator are not damaged. 
  • Strange Noises: Odd sounds from your generator may mean that something isn’t right with the unit. Investigate right away if you hear noises like metal on metal, popping, or chattering, which typically indicate a failing component. Another warning sign is a sputtering noise indicating that bad fuel was mixed in the generator. 
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Problems You May Experience With Your Whole-Home Generator

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

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

Battery Failure Of Your On-Demand Generator

An old or damaged battery is one of the most common backup generator issues. Make sure the batteries are changed every few years so your generator performs optimally. Using the same battery for longer is extremely risky because it cannot maintain its capacity. As a result, they generate less power.

Failure to Start

image of homeowner frustrated with power outage and backup generator's failure to start

If your generator suddenly stops working one day, check if the automatic operation controls are set properly. Generators automatically start up when needed 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 means the generator will not automatically start when it should. The generator may also fail to turn on after a service call when the generator needs a simple reset of the automatic controls.

Related Article: Tips For Standby Generator Maintenance

Stalling During Operation

The generator may suddenly stall for several reasons. They need an experienced technician to diagnose the problem correctly. For instance, a gas generator may have spark plug problems that lower the ability of the generator to work.

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Clogged Fuel Lines

Diesel generators usually have problems with clogged fuel lines that cause the generator to stop working. Oxidation causes filthy sludge to accumulate in the fuel lines, which can clog up over time. Oxidation can’t be prevented, but you can help avoid this problem with regular maintenance and fuel treatments. 

Related Article: How To Size A Standby Generator?

Low Coolant

image of a backup power generator

A sensor automatically recognizes when there is low refrigerant, which forces the generator into a no-start state. This is because running the generator when the coolant is depleting can result in overheating. The coolant is tasked with spreading the heat throughout the engine so all components are kept at a reasonable temperature to keep them from overheating or freezing. As time passes, the water on the coolant will evaporate due to the generator’s high temperatures. This results in less and less coolant.

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Standby Generator Leaks

It is a red flag if you routinely add coolant to your refrigerator, which typically indicates that there is a leak. It can be due to a simple cause, such as the generator’s vibrations causing a component to become loose. This problem can also result from normal wear and tear and using cheaper products that don’t fit properly.


Overheating can result in major issues. See if the problem persists even after you add more coolant. If the coolant levels aren’t the issue, the overheating can be due to a myriad of causes, like a damaged drive belt or hose or dirty refrigerant clogging the radiator’s core. The problem is that overheating can quickly result in lasting damage to any parts of the generator, such as the rotor, bearings, exhaust valves, and alternator. 

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Wet Stacking

Wet stacking, or a fluid leak, can result in inefficiency. It is a problem diesel generators experience. It occurs when unburned gasoline, oil, and condensed water stack up around the exhaust system and start leaking. Its signature black material can make this issue recognizable. You can avoid this issue when you burn off any extra fuel.

Low or Depleted Fuel

Low fuel, fuel depletion, and other issues can happen if you rely solely on fuel gauges. This device can fail to provide correct level readings, particularly if they become clogged with sludge. Routine upkeep and backup fuel supply can ensure this issue doesn’t happen.

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Owning a generator needs routine maintenance so that it runs smoothly and no big problems occur when you need it the most. Many other issues can happen with your generator, including a dirty filter, insufficient oil, and a closed shutoff valve. The good news is that these issues can be prevented. Depend on a certified professional to take care of your worries when a problem occurs so you save money and time.

Related Article: How Does A Generator Work?

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McAllister Energy

McAllister Energy is a top generator installation service provider throughout Camden County, New Jersey. We not only install backup generators, but we are also specialists in generator maintenance, repairs, and replacement. We only work with outstanding service contractors that are well-versed in the most advanced generator procedures. As such, call or contact us immediately to get more information about whole-house generator installation. McAllister Energy provides free in-home estimates.

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