Out of the 630,000 PECO customers affected by last Friday’s storm, tens of thousands were still without power in the Philadelphia region as of Sunday evening. For those who thought we were “in the clear” and on our way to a sunny and warm spring, this storm was a wake-up call. And just when you think it’s over, there’s a second nor’easter on its way.

The Philly Inquirer reports that this latest storm is to bring winds of 15-25 mph and a potential of 6-10 inches of snow in the immediate Philadelphia area. The storm is expected to develop Tuesday night into Wednesday, affecting travel to and from work on Wednesday. So, we have to ask: if you have a generator, did it work correctly?

We’ve received dozens of calls since last Friday’s storm from home and business owners who own a generator but were still left without power because the generator wasn’t working properly. So, in preparation for the next nor’easter that’s about to hit, we thought we’d attempt to answer some questions about why your standby generator won’t work. Without further ado, here are the 9 most common reasons your standby generator is not working:

  1. Battery Failure
  2. Low Coolant Levels
  3. Low Coolant Temp
  4. Oil, Fuel or Coolant Leaks
  5. “Not in Auto” Messages
  6. Air in the Fuel System
  7. No Fuel/Low Fuel
  8. High Fuel Level Alarms
  9. Breaker Trip

We go into detail for each cause below.

1. Battery Failure

A lot of battery problems are the results of dirty and loose connections. This is why generator maintenance is critical. Unfortunately, you can’t predict a battery failure, but monitoring the charge rates on a monthly basis can help you learn the trend of your battery. If it’s working properly, there will be a constant charge rate. Amperage increase may be a sign of malfunction.

2. Low Coolant Levels

If your coolant level is low, it’s most likely because there is an external or internal leak. You may notice a puddle of coolant or a crusty residue on hoses. Many generators have alarms or error codes, but it may not be explicit that the alarm is the result of a low coolant levels.

3. Low Coolant Temp

Again, your generator likely has an alarm that will sound if the coolant temperature is not high enough. You may need to let the generator run at no load for a few minutes while the temperature comes up.

4. Oil, Fuel or Coolant Leaks

There are a variety of reasons your generators could be leaking oil, fuel or coolant. Maintenance, including hose and coolant replacement, will help prevent this.

5. “Not in Auto” Messages

If your main control switch is in the off position, this is the message you may see on your standby generator. After having service completed, always check your generator system.

6. Air in the Fuel System

It just takes one small air bubble within a unit to cause the engine not to start. Periodically running the engine is an easy way to prevent this from happening. A quick 5-minute test is all that’s required.

7. No Fuel/Low Fuel

Your fuel gauges aren’t always accurate – they may stick in one place. Be sure the monitor low level alarms and maintain your fuel tanks.

8. High Fuel Level Alarms

Likewise, high fuel level alarms will sound if you overfill your fuel tank. Nothing is wrong with your generator, and this will likely reset itself when the fuel level drops.

9. Breaker Trip

If your breaker tripped, you have to ensure you know why it tripped before resetting it. Never try to operate the automatic transfer switch if you don’t know how.

Entrust These Generator Repairs to an Expert

Now we have to admit, if you’re experiencing any of these problems, it’s likely that you won’t be able to create a fix on your own. Because a standby generator is a mechanical and electrical device that requires precise service, you’ll likely need assistance to get your generator back up and running.

That’s what we’re here for! AQM happily offers 24/7 emergency service to help you through home and business crises (like a generator that won’t work). As you prepare your home for the storm that’s on its way to the Philadelphia region, we encourage you to call us at (610) 363-3940 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation or schedule your estimate online. Our experienced repairmen are standing by at the ready to help you through this next storm and to answer any of your standby generator repair and maintenance questions.

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