What are the Common Causes of Generator Failure?

What are the Common Causes of Generator Failure?

When it comes to ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted power supply, comprehending the common causes of generator failure becomes not just important, but paramount. In this guide, we will explore the essential factors that can lead to generator malfunction, potentially leaving you in the dark precisely when you require electricity the most. Whether you heavily depend on a portable generator as a reliable backup power source or have a dependable standby unit to maintain the smooth operation of your home or business, being acutely aware of these prevalent issues can serve as a valuable safeguard, shielding you from unforeseen disruptions that could otherwise wreak havoc on your daily routines and operations.

Generator Failure and Maintenance

When it comes to portable generators and generator failure, it all boils down to one crucial factor – maintenance. The state of your generator’s health is directly related to how well you’ve maintained it over the years. So, let’s explore the first telltale sign of generator failure.

  1. Failure to Start or Strange Behavior: If your generator refuses to start, or it starts but behaves erratically, it’s a red flag. Even after adding fuel stabilizer and trying different fuels, if it’s still uncooperative, trouble is brewing. There could be various underlying issues, including age-related wear and tear.
  2. Routine Maintenance Matters: Regular maintenance tasks like changing the oil, air filters, and spark plugs can work wonders in keeping your generator in top shape. However, if these efforts fail to resolve the issues, it’s time to consider more profound problems.
  3. Carburetor Problems: An improperly functioning carburetor can cause flooding and erratic behavior in your generator. If you’ve followed the maintenance checklist to the letter and your generator still acts up, it’s worth inspecting the carburetor.
  4. Surging Issues: Surging is another symptom that your generator might be on its last legs. If it surges even after proper maintenance and fuel adjustments, it may be time to bid farewell.

The Role of Fuel

Now that we’ve covered the common signs of generator failure, let’s explore another critical aspect – fuel management.

  1. Fuel Quality: The type of fuel you use plays a pivotal role in your generator’s performance. Most portable generators require a minimum of E87-grade gasoline. But here’s the catch – using fuel with ethanol content can spell disaster. If you let ethanol-laden fuel sit in your generator for an extended period, it can build up moisture and separate into water. This, in turn, wreaks havoc on your carburetor and, consequently, your generator’s functionality.
  2. Opt for Non-Ethanol Gas: To avoid fuel-related issues, it’s wise to opt for non-ethanol gasoline. You can comfortably use gasoline ranging from 87 to 93 octane levels. Non-ethanol gas ensures that your fuel remains stable and doesn’t deteriorate into water, saving you from unnecessary generator headaches down the road.


In conclusion, maintaining your generator and ensuring proper fuel management are key to preventing common causes of generator failure. At Teague Electric, we’ve built our reputation on expertise and reliability, and our commitment to “wired right on time” service extends to every aspect of your electrical needs, including generator maintenance.

If you’ve encountered any of the issues discussed in this article or require assistance with your generator, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experienced team is here to ensure that your lights stay on, no matter the circumstances.