Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

Understanding 10 Common Problems (and Fixes) of Industrial Generators

This article is going to talk about some common problems that occur with industrial generators. We will also tell you how to fix those problems and preventive maintenance tips that’ll keep those problems from reoccurring.

As of May 2018, prices for manufacturers had increased for five straight months. Manufacturers hadn’t seen such high prices since 2011.

Given the rising costs of business expenses, we don’t blame companies for wanting to avoid buying new industrial equipment if they don’t have to.

Industrial generators are just one of the pieces of equipment businesses might be hesitant to purchase. Businesses likely do everything in their power to keep their generators working.

But what’s a company to do when an industrial generator appears to stop working? What steps can businesses take to get their generators up and working again?

Here are 10 common problems and their fixes.

1. Improper Sizing

Many businesses believe that bigger is better. Unfortunately, though, a bigger generator can be more cumbersome than helpful.

Some businesses make the mistake of purchasing generators that are larger than what they need. The logic behind these purchases relies on the assumption that these businesses will eventually need these generators.

But here’s what they don’t know: Running a generator with a load that’s too light for it can cause severe damage. In order to avoid causing such damage, businesses should either purchase a smaller generator or find a way to increase the generator’s load.

2. Malfunctioning Block Heaters

Block heaters are supposed to maintain your generator’s cooling system temperature. Not only that, but they’re also tasked with keeping the generator’s iron cylinder liners expanded.

Sometimes, though, those block heaters cause problems. When a block heater malfunctions, the cause usually has something to do with the device’s rate of expansion.

Block heaters are typically made of aluminum. And this aluminum expands more quickly than a generator’s iron cylinder liners. This rapid expansion can scuff the machine’s piston skirt.

In order to spot this problem, you should regularly check your generator. During these routine checks, make sure that the generator maintains a consistent temperature. You should also check that the liners are properly functioning.

If you find a problem, you’ll have to replace the malfunctioning parts.

3. No Fuel

We probably all know that a generator needs fuel to run. What some of us don’t know, however, is that there are external forces which affect our generators’ fuel levels.

Once such external force is air. Some new fuel systems are vulnerable to air influx. This influx can prevent a generator from properly starting up.

But air influx isn’t the only thing you should be on the lookout for.

Sometimes the fuel in your generator is bad. Whenever you find bad fuel in your machine, just pump it out and replace it.

And here’s another note: If your generator is older and won’t properly start, it could have a leak somewhere. Try taking a peek at the check valves and go from there.

4. No Coolant

Is your generator constantly overheating? How about overcranking? Are the pistons broken?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your industrial generator might be low on coolant.

And if you’re sure that you refilled the coolant recently? Start looking for a leak.

5. Dead Batteries

Surprisingly enough, many of the problems businesses have with their generators are brought on by battery failures.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple. Just get a new battery for your generator.

You should always avoid putting yourself in a situation in which your generator’s batteries fail if you can. Constantly monitor the machine’s charge rate and replace the batteries on a schedule.

Of course, batteries can unexpectedly fail at times. For this reason, we recommend keeping an emergency generator on hand.

6. Regular Wear and Tear

We like to think that our industrial equipment will function properly if we take great care of it. As a result, we’re usually not looking for signs of regular wear and tear.

But normal wear and tear are the causes of problems with generators more often than we think.

The signs are easy to spot. Just look for weather damage, damaged belts or burnt components.

Once you’ve identified the components that are in disrepair, replace them.

7. Poor Maintenance

Let’s get real: How often do you remember to check on your generator?

We’re willing to bet you only think about it when it stops working properly.

Such poor maintenance is a major issue. Because your generator could be suffering from any of the issues listed here. If that’s the case, the damage is compounding daily.

If you let that damage compound for long enough, you could be looking at total system failure.

And if you’re dealing with a total system failure, you might as well start looking at some new industrial generators.

Having said that, look at your generator every now and then. Your pockets will thank you.

8. Smoking Engines

If your generator is producing smoke, there could be several problems with it. The problems you should look for depend on what color the smoke is.

White smoke could signal an issue with your fuel line or injectors. It might also suggest that something is wrong with your fuel filters.

Black smoke, on the other hand, might indicate that your generator’s engine needs a complete overhaul.

9. Generator Shutting Itself Down

The underlying causes of a generator shutting down are numerous. Here are just a handful of the reasons why a generator might exhibit this behavior:

  • Low lubricant or coolant levels
  • Lack of circulation of water in the engine
  • Loose belts
  • Clogged radiator fins
  • Damaged or jammed radiator fins

Unfortunately, the list could go on for practically forever. So if you’ve run through this list and can’t identify the problem, you might want to contact a professional.

10. Generator Refusing to Take a Full Load

Assuming you’re not overexerting your generator, it should be able to handle a full load. If it’s struggling to take a full load, there could be a problem with its fuel pump. The pump might be struggling to keep up with the engine fuel demand.

The solution to this problem involves getting the fuel pump checked by professionals. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need a new pump and pinpoint other issues with your generator.

Having Issues With Your Industrial Generators?

Are you currently having issues with your industrial generators? If so, we recommend going through this list again to locate the issue. Once you’ve located the issue, contact a professional to have any necessary repairs done.

In the meantime, you can browse our forums to find solutions to your business problems and meet like-minded entrepreneurs.