Generac 14k standby generator test run problem

sarahlee123December 22, 2013

On two occasions in the last couple of months, my two year old generator has required a second try to start for its weekly exercise run. Before this, it always started on the first try. It has been serviced regularly - the last time in November - a 'soft' service.

Any thoughts on what could be causing this? Should I have a tech over to check it out again? Any help would be appreciated.

This post was edited by sarahlee123 on Sun, Dec 22, 13 at 17:07

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Sounds as if it is a problem requiring an engine technician rather than an electrician.
What is the fuel for your generator?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 6:20PM
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Busdriver, thanks for your reply. It uses propane. Can you recommend a forum that would be more appropriate for this problem? As you can tell, I know very little about generators .

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 6:33PM
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While I never serviced the fuel-system on a propane-powered engine, propane vaporizes slowly in the cold and could cause slow starting. An advantage of propane is that it does not age in storage and a tank last filled 10 years ago is as fresh as today's fill.
If all else fails, a forklift mechanic should be able to service the fuel system.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 8:18PM
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Ron Natalie

Check the cranking battery. I found mine died after a couple of years and I had to replace it. It's just a car battery with a rather stupid charging device on it.

Doesn't the control panel on yours give you some hint as to why it didn't start?

If it's not the battery check all the other stuff: air filter, radiator fluid level, etc....

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 8:18PM
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Ronnatalie, since it does start on the second try, the control panel shows that everything is fine. As for the battery, do you think it would have been checked when they did the servicing? I'll call and ask tomorrow.

Busdriver, the first time it took two times to start, it was very cold out - teens. And when it happened today, the weather was ridiculously warm - in the upper fifties. Would that have an effect on the propane flow?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 8:28PM
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While batteries can fail at any moment without warning, weekly use is, in my opinion, ideal for longest life. I had one last for 13 years-it was original in a new 1998 vehicle. Two aftermarket units lasted 10 years each in off-road equipment. It could be a corroded battery terminal. But a failing battery that does not work the first attempt is highly unlikely to work on the second attempt.
The forklift mechanic is familiar with all this.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Ron Natalie

If his little generic is like mine there's a 2A trickle charger on it and the unit runs about 20 minutes once a week. I hate to disillusion all you battery experts but there is enough time between attempts for the battery to recover a bit and sometimes it can take a bit to crank that generator over. This is NOT the same situation as trying to start your car with a failing battery.

I doubt his propane has gone stale, it's not gasoline. I've been running on the same propane tank for nearly five years now. A low tank however, could cause some problems especially in colder weather.

If the thing isn't reporting low coolant or some other alert the thing most likely timed out because it hadn't started after 30 seconds of cranking (or whatever his timeout is). It can indeed be the battery. It could also be something blocking the air intake (while there's a filter on the engine itself, there's also the air into the cabinet that could be jammed with leaves or grass clippings, though that would be pretty obvious.

This post was edited by ronnatalie on Mon, Dec 23, 13 at 7:41

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 7:40AM
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If it's only been a cold weather issue, a cold weather warming kit might help.

Some kits have one heater, some three. Example, a "three-part kit" has a warming pad for the battery to sit on to keep the battery warm so you'll get a good crank, a block heater to keep the oil warm to it's easier for the engine to turn, and a carb heater to help with the initial light-off.

The kits have a thermostat of sorts so they only heat when the temperature is below a certain set point, usually 40 degrees.

Propane generators may not fire off in cold weather if the tank is lower than half-full. If that is an issue the regulator pressure might need to be checked.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Mongoct, busdrive, and ronnatalie, I spoke to the techs who service the generator. They mentioned that the propane pressure may be an issue. When they finally come, I'll bring up the items that you all have mentioned, and let you know what happens.

Thanks so much for all your thoughts and comments!


    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 4:10PM
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