You’ve now gotten your generator out of storage to use, but it won’t turn on. First, check out our article, Top 6 Generator Problems & How to Fix Them, to find out what could be causing your problem.
Now that you have an idea on what’s causing your generator malfunction, your next question is “How much is this going to cost?” The good news is, generator repair can be easy and cost next to nothing, sometimes as simple as flipping a switch. The bad news, however, is that your generator repair can cost as much as replacing the entire unit.
7 Common Generator Problems & How Much It Costs to Repair Them
In this article, you’ll learn about seven problems you might be facing, with included price ranges on how much you may need to spend to repair your generator. For clarification, price ranges are based on national averages and for smaller generators around 8,500 Watts.
1. Basic maintenance to prevent a costly generator repair
Oil: $7-15 per quart
Oil is a key component to motors as they can’t run without it. Checking the oil is necessary to do more than just once a year, depending on how much the machine is used. If used for primary power for businesses and organizations such as disaster relief or food trucks, the oil should be checked once every 4-6 months.
On the other hand, if you’re only using your generator in emergency situations, check the oil before turning on the unit. The suggested brand and viscosity ratio necessary for your generator will be listed in your owner’s manual. Generator oil can typically be purchased anywhere car oil is sold.
New air filters: $7-$10
Air filter prices vary based on generator brand, and your owner’s manual will specify the exact air filter you’ll need. The air filters can be purchased at the same place you purchased your generator, your local lawn & garden store, or online.
The following price option is only if the electrical generator repair can be done yourself, per the owner’s manual. When all other options are off the board, contact a licensed electrical professional.
Flipped breaker on circuit breaker electrical board: $0
There are two reasons this could happen. First, if your generator will not cold crank, it could be the circuit breaker was turned off for generator repair. Locate the circuit breaker using the owner’s manual and flip the slot that was turned off.
If your generator was running but abruptly turned off, the circuit breaker may have overloaded. Unplug everything from the generator, locate the circuit breaker, and flip the slot that was turned off.
These prices and tips are for generators that have electric starters. If your generator only has a recoil starter rope, skip down to #4 (Fuel).
Wire brush for dirty battery connectors: $3-$5
Over time, the generator battery terminals can develop corrosion, collect debris, and form rust, all of which prevents the generator from working properly. To clean, use a wire brush to scrub away the obstructions.
Screwdriver to tighten battery terminal: $0 (on hand) - $5
If the terminals aren’t securely fastened, then the battery isn’t able to get power to the generator motor. Use a screwdriver to tighten the terminal connections.
Fuel: $2.59 per gallon
We’ve all been there. We get busy and forget to fuel up. If your generator stops working abruptly and you haven’t exceeded the Wattage limit, you may have run out of gas. Fill up the gas tank and start the generator again.
Fuel gauge replacement: $9-$20
If your generator quits because it runs out of fuel, but the gauge still reads it has fuel, the gauge will need to be replaced. You can find the fuel gauge generator repair instructions online or in the owner's manual.
Fuel Filter: $5-$15
A faulty or clogged fuel filter is another reason your generator can stop working, even with fuel in the tank. An online tutorial or the owner’s manual will give specific information for the part and instructions.
Damaged fuel tank: $20-$100
Sometimes when working at a construction or disaster relief area, something can fall on or pierce the fuel tank. In rare cases, this may happen at home. Find an online tutorial or check the owner’s manual for instructions. While the fuel tank is removed, check to make sure the fuel lines were not also damaged.
Failed or clogged carburetor: $0-$75
Because generators are small engine tools, they aren’t fuel injected. Instead, they have a carburetor. When the generator is stored for long periods of time, the fuel that sits in the carburetor can break down and cause build up. You can clean it, but you’ll need to take precautions of all the little pieces in there. Some carburetors are inexpensive enough that it would be more justifiable to just buy a new one than try to clean the old one.
To prevent this carburetor issue in the future, close the fuel switch and then turn on your generator. Run the generator until it stops. Your fuel lines from the switch and through the carburetor will be dry, and you’ll have saved yourself a headache the next time you use your generator.
5. Low oil
Oil: $7-$15 per quart
Small engines can run out of fuel but must not run out of oil as it’s needed to smoothly run all the components of the motor. Without oil, the motor will bind up and seize. From that point, forget generator repair – you’ll have to purchase either a new motor or a new generator outright. So, take time every couple of months, or when you take the generator out of storage, to check the oil and replenish if it’s low.
Flushing old oil: $7-$15 per quart
If the oil looks dirty or discolored on the dipstick, it’s time for an oil change. Check the owner’s manual for oil capacity and instructions, or an internet search will yield tutorial videos to guide you.
No oil: up to $8,000 (buying a new generator)
Running out of oil is a disaster, plain and simple. You can expect the motor of your generator to run rough, and then stop running altogether. The good news is, you may be able to replace the motor itself. To find a motor, search online or contact a manufacturer.
6. Closed valves/switches
Open a closed shutoff valve: $0
A shutoff valve is used to prevent an electric start generator from accidentally turning on while in storage. A closed shutoff valve will cause the generator to not cold crank. The owner's manual will give instructions on where to find the valve and how to open/close it.
Label to indicate closed valve: $0 (materials on hand) - $10
If you have trouble forgetting the shutoff valve is closed, placing a label on the generator can be helpful. Simply put a strip of masking tape on the generator and make a note with a pen.
Closed fuel switch: $0
Your generator may not start because you closed the fuel switch to save the carburetor. Open the fuel switch and restart your generator. If you forgot about the switch, again, make a label.
7. Dirty air filter
Air filter: $7-$10
Just like it’s need for oil, the generator can’t run without clean air. You may get it started, but the motor won’t run for long. If your air filter is dirty, reference the generator owner’s manual for the exact size and type of filter needed. It’s best to check the air filter every couple of months, and especially before running after the generator has been in storage.
Need Generator Repairs in the Tampa Bay area?
Easy A/C is Tampa’s premier AC repair and installation company, providing reliable air conditioning services to homes across the Tampa Bay area. Understanding the needs of Florida homeowners, we also offer licensed electrical repairs and installation services. We can help if you’re having generator issues, so contact us today to schedule an appointment.