There are many things that need to be checked when a generator won’t start.
- Generators with an electric starter often fail to start because of a weak battery charge or faulty electric connections. If you push the start button (or turn the key) and you don’t hear the starter motor turn, you know that there is no power at the starter. You can use the recoil starter, if your generator has one. If not, replace the battery with one that works. You could also use a battery booster or jumper to provide power to the battery. If the battery is fine, and it still won’t start. Check the connections to the starter switch, on/off switch, and the starter motor solenoid.
- In the case of a recoil starter malfunction, the most likely cause is that the flywheel key may be sheared. To inspect the flywheel key, you’ll need to remove the flywheel and check that the key is in working order.
- If your recoil or electric starter is functioning and the engine refuses to start, you first need to eliminate the obvious. Check that there is gas in the tank and the oil is at the correct level. Make sure that the fuel valve is open and the generator start switch is in the on position.
- If all the normal stuff is as it should be, you’ll need to do a more detailed check. Start by making sure that the stop run switch is making contact. Ensure that the wiring that goes from this switch to the ignition coil are secure. Use a multi-meter to check for continuity.
- Check the spark plug and the connection between the plug and the ignition coil. Ensure that the spark plug lead is properly secured.
- Check the carburetor, ensuring that there is fuel reaching the inlet jets. You may need to replace the fuel filter or clear a blockage in the fuel line. Old fuel in the tank may also prevent your generator from starting. To be sure, always put fresh fuel into your gas tank if the generator has been standing.
- You may have dirt in the carburetor. Using a can of carburetor cleaner will sort this out.
Check and clean your air filter.
- Your generator may have a number of safety switches on or around the engine, like a low oil shutoff switch. Check all the wiring and connections to these switches.