How To Start A Generator That Has Been Sitting?


Standby power generators are the only hope for most people whenever there is a power outage. These machines are cost-effective and efficient; however, they sometimes can fail when you need them most since they are operated infrequently.

“My generator won’t start; what could be the problem?” This is a joint statement by many generator owners. Any product that has an engine might fail to start sometimes due to several reasons; it could be one or a combination of multiple reasons. It can be frustrating and nerve-wracking, especially during emergencies.

In this article, we take a look at power generators, how long they can sit without running, how to start one that has been sitting for long and finally, what to do if your generator won’t start. Keep reading to find out more.

How Long Can A Generator Sit Without Running?

While there is no specific time frame for a generator to sit without running, it can stay idle for several months. However, you need to perform regular checks and maintenance procedures to keep it working in order.

A generator is an essential power backup machine, but it is not something you will use frequently. Thus, it is imperative to properly and safely store your generator, especially when not in use for a prolonged period. This can only be achieved through regular maintenance practices.

How To Start A Generator That Has Been Sitting

Generally, generators are used as alternatives for the main power supply; this means they can go for long without being used. This idle time without servicing can sometimes cause your generator not to start. There is no specific remedy to this; you have to check several components. Here is how to start a generator that has been sitting:


How To Start A Generator That Has Been Sitting


1. Clean the whole generator

The first thing you will need to do is thoroughly clean it off dust particles. This will depend on how dirty the generator is. If it is in a dust-free area, you will use less time and effort to clean it or otherwise. Use a wet towel or a spray with a degreaser to wash away the dust.

2. Replace old fuel

Most generators will not start due to old oil in the fuel tank. You’ll have to drain the old fuel and replace it with fresh fuel. If you don’t want to waste the oil, instead of letting it stay inside the generator while not in use, you should empty the tank. Store the oil in a clean container away from direct sunlight and any contaminations. By doing this, it can be freshly available when you need to reuse it.

3. Replace the oil filter

It is advisable that you also change the old oil filter to a new one because it is not good to use an old filter after fueling the generator with new oil. This fresh oil might not penetrate swiftly through the filter, or it might get contaminated with the old fuel particles, causing inefficiencies in performance.

4. Check the spark plug and grease it if necessary.

It is vital that you grease the spark plug as it is easy to accumulate rust. This should be practiced more often for better results and should be done carefully by opening the spark plug, pouring some oil in the hole, and replacing the spark plug. For even distribution of oil, withdraw the recoil about four times.

5. Dead battery

Generators such as generators for ice fishing have a battery that starts the engine. You need to regularly clean the contacts or terminal connections on the battery to remove rust can be a significant maintenance measure. Use a wire brush for this case, and if you see no change, you will have to replace it.

What To Do If Generator Won’t Start

Troubleshooting a generator that won’t start is pretty easy; it shouldn’t take you a long time unless your generator is completely damaged. Here is what to do if your generator won’t start:


What To Do If Generator Won't Start


  • Check oil level – We all know that engines require oil for effective running. Generators are no different; most of them are equipped with a four-stroke engine with oil level sensors. If there is inadequate oil in the tank, this sensor blocks the spark plug, preventing the generator from starting. You need to ensure the oil is at the required level.
  • Check the air filter – Air filters can get clogged with dust, especially if they have been sitting for a long time. Remove the air filter and clean it before starting your generator. In some cases, you may have to replace them with new filters.
  • Check the battery – This is a prevalent reason. It can be caused by a loose connection, sulfation, or a completely drained battery. Sulfation is the accumulation of lead sulphate crystals on the battery’s plates. This causes the battery to produce insufficient current. Before starting your generator, ensure the battery is charged and no loose connections.
  • Check coolant level – Engine coolant is vital; the engine might overheat without it, causing a mechanical breakdown or engine failure. Engine coolants should be regularly checked and refilled if below the required level.
  • Adjust the choke control – Most people tend to forget to adjust the choke control causing the generator to trip. The choke regulates the amount of air in the carburettor when the generator starts. When the engine is cold, the choke control should be completely closed. Once you start the generator, you move the control steadily until it’s fully opened.
  • Check plugged in cables – Before you start your generator, ensure nothing is plugged into it. No appliance should be connected to the generator. You can plug them once the generator has started and is already running.
  • No gas – Check if you have enough fuel in your gas tank. A generator won’t start without fuel. If it’s low, consider refueling. Remember, “stale” fuel can damage your generator. If gas has been sitting in your generator for two months or more, that is stale fuel; it should be replaced.
  • Electrical malfunction – Most modern power generators have built-in electrical components that sometimes fail. You need to check components such as on/off switch, sensors, circuit breakers, oil protection switch etc.



Final Words

One of the surest ways to guarantee that your generator will start anytime you need it to start is by taking good care of it. Frequent service and maintenance checks are essential for any generator.

After reading this article, we hope that you will no longer ask why your generator won’t start. We have given you all the necessary information on how to handle a generator that has been sitting.

Remember to avoid frustrations and inconveniences, have a proper shed for your generator and service it frequently even if not in use.


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