Common Causes of Generator Failure
You rely on your generator to provide the power that your facility needs should the main electrical grid experience an outage. Continuous power can help you maintain operations and avoid substantial financial losses, ultimately protecting your company’s bottom line. However, even the most reliable generators may fail to start at some point. Here are some of the top reasons that can cause generator failure:
1. Battery Malfunction
There are several things that can cause your battery to fail. For example, loose or dirty connections can adversely affect battery performance. These connections should be cleaned and fastened tightly at periodic intervals. Your battery failure could also be due to a buildup of lead sulfates, which can affect its ability to provide sufficient electrical current. Usually, by the time this has happened, you will need to replace the battery altogether.
2. Fuel, Coolant, or Oil Leaks
Fuel leaks often happen due to an issue with the pump system. You should have the system professionally inspected regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. Also, don’t forget to check flexible fuel lines for any cracks or other signs of wear and tear.
Coolant leaks usually occur in the hoses of the block heater. These hoses are subject to extreme temperatures, so it’s important to use only silicone hoses that are specifically made for block heaters. Maintaining the cooling system frequently will also help you avoid leaks. Hoses should be replaced every few years to reduce the risk of failure. Additionally, coolant can begin to deteriorate over time, so the cooling system should be flushed and replaced with new coolant per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
What appears as oil leaks is actually most often the result of something known as “wet stacking.” Wet stacking is a buildup of carbon particles, lube oil, unburned fuel, and acids caused when an engine is run significantly below the output level that it is rated for. Left unaddressed, wet stacking can severely damage the internal parts of your engine. You will need to burn off the excess fuel by loading the generator at the proper range for a few hours. If you’re unsure of the appropriate range, contact a generator professional for assistance.
3. Low Coolant
Coolant is what keeps your engine from overheating. An engine that’s allowed to run too hot will quickly breakdown, so it is crucial to check your levels frequently. If you notice that you are going through more coolant than usual, you may have a leak in the system. Keep an eye out for any visible puddles during your routine inspection. If you do appear to have a leak, have the unit looked at by a qualified technician to rule out any other issues with the unit.
4. Air in Fuel System
When generators aren’t used on a regular basis, they can begin to develop air in the fuel system. Air can cause fuel injector failure, so the engine won’t startup. You can avoid this issue by operating the generator once a week for at least five minutes. This gives enough time to clear air from the fuel system and to make sure the engine will start and run normally.
5. Poor Maintenance
Investing in a generator system can be quite expensive—often tens of thousands of dollars—so you’ll want to maximize its lifespan with regular maintenance. At a minimum, maintenance should be done at least every three months, but there may be some instances when you need it sooner, such as in extreme weather conditions. There are certain tasks that you should make sure are covered at every maintenance check, including:
- Oil change:
Oil lubricates the various moving internal parts of an engine so that they can work together smoothly without overheating. However, oil quality begins to degrade over time. Without regular oil changes, your generator will experience increased wear and tear, possibly damaging the engine beyond repair. Getting routine oil changes is one of the best ways to maximize engine life.
- Filter cleaning or replacement:
Filters collect all the dirt, dust, and other debris in the air around your generator. If they aren’t cleaned regularly, filters can get clogged and work less effectively. Small particles may enter your generator, damaging its components. Dirty filters also restrict airflow, so the engine has to work harder to perform the same job. This can put unnecessary stress on the unit, potentially leading to a breakdown. Filters should be cleaned frequently and replaced as needed to keep your generator in prime condition and prevent generator failure.
- Engine run test:
The last thing that you will want to be dealing with during an outage is a generator that won’t power on. You need to test it regularly to make sure it will work when you need it most. During your routine maintenance, turn the engine on and let it run for at least 30 minutes. This will help you detect any minor problems with the system so that you can address them early on before they have a chance to progress.
- Fuel refill:
It’s important to keep fuel maintained at the proper level. Be careful not to overfill the tank because the fuel will expand once heated. You will also want to make sure the engine is turned off and completely cooled down before refilling since serious burns could result from spilling fuel on a hot engine.
- Check connections:
As part of your maintenance inspection, take a look at all of the connections to your generator. If any appear worn, cracked, or corroded, have them replaced immediately. This will help prevent any unnecessary power issues later down the line.
Reliable Power Solutions
Are you having issues with a generator? Generator failure has common causes and solutions. Valley Power Systems offers a wide selection of power equipment for California businesses. We work with top industry manufacturers to provide our clients with superior options from brands they trust. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to help you find the right solution for your facility. Contact our office to speak with a member of our team today!