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Question DetailsAsked on 11/5/2016

My generator will run if i spray it with starting fluid, but won't run other wise. I already changed the gas

I have good spark at the plug and i cleaned the carb.

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3 Answers


Then pretty clear it is getting spark but sounds like it is starving for air or fuel - blocked fuel strainer in tank, plugged fuel line, badly plugged air filter, plugged idle and/or main jets. (Jets usually clog only if you used dirty fuel or let it sit a long time (years) so it turned to varnish.)

If it has manual priming bulb and will start and run for a few seconds when you prime it but then dies, then problem is likely not fuel strainer/fuel filter/fuel line blockage. Could be air filter is blocked enough that while it can start on the air in the carb, not enough air comes through the air filter to keep it running - because assuming this is a small generator, the air flowing through the carb pulls the fuel from the tank using a venturi rather than using a fuel pump, so restricted air flow = restricted gas flow. Removing the filter element while trying to start would tell you if that is the problem - if so, read up on air filter cleaning procedure. Some you clean with a solvent, others with soap like Dawn and water, some are throw-away elements.

If priming does not solve it, then most likely a blockage in fuel system, or the idle/main jets are closed down too far. If you mess with them, be sure to first check how far from bottom (fully closed) they are so you can reset to that position if adjusting them is not the problem. Commonly 1-1/2 to 3 turns from bottomed out - and do not tighten down tight because that can damage the seat.

If priming it does the job for starting, and it will stay running if you reprime it a shot every time it starts to die, then certainly carb fuel starvation - could be your choke position is not closed enough or jets are dirty (though you said you cleaned the carb). Normally start on full choke with throttle closed (on idle - though some start on full throttle), then go to 1/2 choke as soon as it runs, then to choke off after 10-60 seconds warmup. If yours has a visible moving choke arm or lever you could fiddle with that setting whenn starting to see if that solves it - also that the linkage has not broken or become disconnected and is not blocked by debris like leaves.

Since this is a generator - you also need to be sure it starts on no load - electrical loads on almost all brands need to be disconnected during starting, either by unplugging or by turning off the generator breaker initially. If it tries to start under electrical load the generator might be putting enough load on the engine that it cannot start and stay running cold on normal fuel, but will start with ether (which is way more volatile so easier burning than gas).

If the above and the troubleshooting guide in your owners manual (download from manufacturer website if you can't find yours) does not solve it, then if this is a small generator you need a Mower and Small Engine repair service (your Angies List Search the List category, though I don't see it on the category list right now). If a large generator like a standby full-house load generator, typically a specialty generator service or manufacturer's dealer service department is what you need.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services


I have read a lot on this issue and it seems that people struggle with this issue. Tuning of the engine does not help much mainly because, I believe, moisture in the air changes through the year and becomes very high in winters (Pls correct me if I am wrong). Condensation inside the engine creates issues for the startup. I have had this issue perpetually and now that we have batteries and solar technologies coming up and costs dropping it is not worth changing the generator (especially whole house generators).

since I did not find any satisfactory solution online anywhere I have built an automated device to spray the generator with starter fuel/fluid automatically, the only downside is that one has to change the starter fuel spray from time to time (my guess would be no more than once a year at worst - spraying 52 times for 1 sec each is certainly possible in a single can).

Pls watch the video link provided, it should be self-explanatory. It's something that explains as a concept and it's my first DIY video online so I did not shoot it while making the device but it works well. Happy to help if you leave comments on my youtube video.


Answered 6 months ago by jnitin

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