Why Does My Generator Keep Shutting Off? Causes, Solutions, and more!

One of the most frequently asked questions concerning generator troubleshooting is, “why does my generator keep shutting off?” Like any other machine, a generator can get damaged or may fail to start abruptly.

Your generator will shut off because of low oil level, overloading, insufficient fuel, or a bad spark plug. Other issues include sensor failure, clogged air filter, faulty exhaust system, and wrong choke position, etc. Depending on the circumstance in which it shuts off, the causes may vary with some easy-to-fix procedures.

Fortunately, you can easily fix most of these problems without seeking professional help. In this article, we will discuss why a generator keeps shutting off, how to identify the cause and propose some best methods of solving the problem. Keep reading to find out more.

Why Does My Generator Keep Shutting Off?

It’s very frustrating when your power generator keeps shutting off after running for a couple of minutes or a few seconds. But the thing is, there is no one single cause of this problem.

Since a generator has many components that work together, one component may fail and cause the generator to shut off, preventing further damage.

Why Does My Generator Keep Shutting Off

As a generator owner, you need to know the causes of this problem and learn how to fix some of them. Below is a list of some possible causes and solutions to your generator shutting off:

1. Low Oil Level

Oil is usually used as both coolant and lubricant. If there is a rise in temperature due to low oil levels, your generator will likely shut off. On the other hand, if the oil level is too high, it may not properly lubricate the engine leading to overheating and shutting down.

Solution: Ensure the oil level is at the manufacturer’s recommended level.

2. Overloading

Like other electrical appliances, generators have power rating measured in watts (W). If the appliances connected to your generator have a cumulative power rating more than the generator, that is overloading. Overloading not only causes your generator to shut off but may also damage your appliances.

Solution:  Always check the power rating of your appliances before plugging into the generator.

3. Low Fuel

Your generator might have enough fuel to start it but be insufficient to run it. Low fuel will cause your generator to start then shut off after a few seconds. Most generators have a fuel gauge that makes it easy to know the amount of fuel in the gas tank.

Solution: Ensure you have enough fuel in your gas tank. Refill to the recommended level. Do not overfill. Gas spills are dangerous.

4. Bad Spark Plug

The spark plug is responsible for igniting the spark that starts your generator. Sometimes dust, debris, and soot may build up around the spark plug, preventing it from functioning as intended. A loose connection can also cause the spark plug to malfunction. A dirty or faulty spark plug may cause your generator to shut down.

Solution: Unplug the spark plug and clean it properly. Check for loose connection. In some cases, replacing the plug is necessary.

5. Wrong Choke Position

A choke is an oxygen regulator switch; it regulates the amount of oxygen that gets into the carburetor, thus increasing fuel flow. The choke should be at full choke (closed) for your generator to start. Leaving it closed cuts off air, causing a fuel-to-air imbalance and your generator shuts down.

Solution: Start your generator when the choke is closed, then steadily push it to open as the generator runs.

6. Battery Problems

While a generator battery is primarily used for ignition, it also provides power to the circuit board for other components. If the battery is dead or not adequately charged, it may cause electric problems leading to your generator shutting off.

Solution: Ensure your battery is fully charged or replace a dead battery.

7. Blocked Air Filter

An air filter is meant to clean the air that enters the carburetor. Depending on the environment where you use or how you store your generator, the air filter can get clogged with dust particles and debris. A clogged filter limits the right amount of air needed in the carburetor for your generator to run smoothly. This will cause your generator to shut down after a few minutes of operation.

Solution: Remove the air filter and clean it; replace if necessary.

8. Carburetor

The carburetor is responsible for mixing fuel and air in the correct proportion before supplying it to the combustion chamber. If the carburetor is blocked, either fuel, air, or both won’t be enough for combustion. For this reason, your generator will not produce power; instead, it will keep shutting off.

Solution: Remove the float bowl and the carburetor, clean them properly, then allow them to dry. If your generator has stale fuel, drain it all and refill with fresh fuel.

9. Damaged/Blocked Exhaust System

If there is a problem with your generator’s exhaust, for example, a blockage or damage, it may not run for more than a minute. It shuts down seconds after starting because it cannot release the exhaust, resulting in backfiring.

Solution: Ensure the exhaust is not damaged or blocked. If it’s damaged, replace it.

10. Faulty Engine

For some reason, an engine fault can occur. A problem in your generator engine can undoubtedly cause it to shut off either r immediately or after seconds of running. Engine faults are usually challenging to troubleshoot yourself.

Solution: Seek professional services from an engine expert or authorized generator dealer.

11. Low Water Levels

Water is essential for the radiator; it helps cool and lower the temperatures of the radiator. Low water level in the carburetor causes a sudden engine stop. It causes a rise in temperatures in the engine.

Solution: Refill your radiator tank with water.

How To Fix A Generator That Keeps Shutting Off?

Whether it’s a generator for bowfishing, pop up trailer generator, or just a portable home generator, learning how to fix basic faults that can cause a generator to shut down is a skill every generator owner should have. Imagine your generator shutting off during an emergency, and you don’t know what to do?

How To Fix A Generator That Keeps Shutting Off

While you cannot completely eliminate generator shut-off problems, it is crucial to know how to fix them. Here is how to fix a generator that keeps shutting off:

  1. Check Fuel Level: Before starting your generator, ensure it has enough fuel to run it. If the fuel has been in the tank for more than two months, chances are it has become stale. Consider replacing it with fresh fuel.
  2. Check Oil Level: Low oil level is bad for your engine. Make sure the oil level is at the recommended level. Replace engine oil once it gets darker in color. It is advisable to change the oil after 50 hours of runtime for small gas generators and 500 hours for bigger diesel generators.
  3. Check Plugs Ad Filters: Regularly clean your spark plug and filters of any debris and dust. Blockage and dirt are normal occurrences. Sometimes replacement is necessary.
  4. Check The Sensors: Sensors play a critical role in identifying a generator problem. Always check and ensure all sensors are working correctly.
  5. Check For Electrical Problems: Ensure there is no loose connection and damaged wiring.
  6. Check The Engine: An engine problem can be difficult to fix; you may have to consult a professional or your generator dealer.

Bottom Line

That sums up a whole list of things to look for to determine why your generator keeps shutting off. We hope you’ll be able to identify the problem with your generator and possibly fix it by yourself. However, if it consistently shut off, it could mean a more serious problem. In that case, seek professional help from an authorized dealer or certified technician.

Remember, preventive maintenance is far better than dealing with the problem. It’s best practice always to store your generator in a dry place, keep it well serviced and maintained, and run it regularly for at least five minutes a month. This helps in longevity and ensures you get an uninterrupted power supply whenever you need it.

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