You count on your generator in times of crisis. But what happens when your generator lets you down?

While it’s good to know who to call when you need emergency generator repair, it’s also important to know how to troubleshoot your own unit.

Keeping your Emergency Generator

It’s dark and cold and a nasty winter storm has knocked down a power line. No worries, you are well prepared. You’ve thought ahead to make sure you and your family have everything they need to ride it out, including a generator. But when you try to turn it on, it doesn’t start. Or maybe it worked for a while, then mysteriously quit running. What do you do now?

There are many reasons a generator might stop working. Some of them may be issues that require expert repair, but if you’re lucky, the problem is something you can fix on the spot. Having the knowledge to troubleshoot the generator yourself can make all the difference in shivering by candlelight or staying warm and cozy, even if the power is out all night.

Prevention is the First Step

Generators typically only get used in emergencies, it can be months or even years in between use. It’s important to test the generator regularly to address any function problems as they occur. The recommendation is to start your machine once a month. Some machines are automatically programmed to run their own diagnostics on the same day of every month. Whether it happens automatically or manually, seeing the friendly green lights will assure you everything is fine.

For the ultimate test, switch off your home’s main breaker and see what happens. Your generator should power up automatically or when you hit the switch. If it doesn’t, it’s time for maintenance.

Reasons your Emergency Generator won’t Start

Is your generator refusing to start or does it stall out after a few minutes of use? Whatever the problem, the following is a list of possible causes:

  • Lack of fuel or low-quality fuel
  • Low battery. Even fully charged, well-maintained batteries can deteriorate with time.
  • Not in the right setting. If the panel display reads “Not in Auto,” or “Breakers Open,” the generator has likely been switched off.
  • Low coolant. Your generator may sound an alarm or automatically shut down if the coolant level is too low.
  • Leaking coolant, fuel or oil can cause a generator to stop working.
  • The block heater is worn out and needs maintenance or replacement.

When it’s Time for Emergency Generator Repair

Not every generator repair can be completed by the homeowner. Sometimes you need to call in a professional, especially if someone in your household depends on power to keep medical equipment running. In that situation, a lack of electricity is more than just an inconvenience. It could quickly become a crisis.

Virginia Power Solutions provides 24-hour emergency services for residential and commercial generators. Their well-trained technicians are ready to put their experience to work for you, day or night. For extra peace of mind, consider investing in a maintenance plan with VPS. Having a plan in place can save money and time when it counts the most.