How to Start a Generator that Has Been Sitting

February 18, 2024

You’ve probably heard the horror stories. A generator that’s been sitting for months, sometimes years, finally starts up—and then blows up, frying everything in sight. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Just like how artists and creators use SpotifyStorm to boost their Spotify followers, plays, playlist plays, and saves, you too can apply smart strategies to your generator. If you take the time to prepare and implement the right steps, your generator can start up like a dream, every time, ensuring a smooth and reliable performance.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps you need to take before starting your generator.

What to Check Before Starting

It’s important to do a few simple checks before you start your generator. This will ensure that it runs smoothly and doesn’t cause any damage.

man in black jacket walking on sidewalk during daytime

  • Check the fuel level. Make sure there’s enough fuel in the tank to power the generator for at least several hours. If not, fill it up before you start.
  • Next, check the oil level. The oil is what keeps the generator running smoothly, so it’s important to have enough. If the oil level is low, add more before starting the generator.
  • Check the air filter. This will keep dust and dirt from getting into the engine and causing damage. If the air filter is dirty, replace it before starting the generator.

What Supplies Do You Need?

You’ll need a few supplies before you start the generator. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Generator
  • Extension cords
  • Gasoline for the generator
  • Funnel to pour gasoline into the generator
  • Wrench to tighten the gas cap
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves

Detailed Steps on How to Start a Generator that Has Been Sitting for Long

Change the oil in the generator:

You should change the oil in your generator. The oil is what keeps it running smoothly, and it’s important to be consistent with maintenance so that you don’t have any issues down the road. First, you need to remove the cover from the generator by unscrewing it with a Phillips-head screwdriver or wrench. If you don’t know how, watch this video first!

Next, remove all of the bolts holding down on top of your generator (there are usually three). Then, place a rag underneath so as not to scratch any parts while removing them from their sockets. This will prevent damage if something falls out during the removal process, once all bolts are removed from inside each socket.

These are usually smaller ones than those used for attaching wires. Remove them completely until there’s nothing left attached at any point around its circumference, except maybe one small part near where some wires attach themselves into terminals inside the said sockets. But, I wouldn’t worry too much about touching these since they won’t get damaged due to their small size.

Remove any gas that is left in the generator‘s tank:

Turn the generator off and disconnect it from any power source. Disconnect the fuel line from the tank of your generator, then drain any gas left in there, using a siphon pump or vacuum cleaner (you may need to remove some sediments first).

Open up your fuel valve at this point so that you can let out as much gas as possible without flooding yourself with fumes. If there is still some leftover liquid in your tank after draining it completely, simply turn on your engine again. This will keep things flowing smoothly.

Clean the carburetor of your generator:

You should try to remove the air filter and check it for blockage. If there is a blockage, clean it with a carburetor cleaner or use a wire brush to remove any debris that may be stuck inside the filter. Also, check your fuel line for any blockage or leaks, then replace it if necessary. A quick search on Google can tell you where to buy replacement parts for this type of generator.

Clean out the carburetor with a carburetor cleaner. This will prevent rust buildup for future use. The same goes for cleaning out other parts such as spark plugs and filters. These should be cleaned regularly. Make sure you have the appropriate tool kit to do all this.

Fill your generator with clean gas and lubricant:

a large industrial building with pipes and pipes

Use a funnel to fill the generator. Fill it with the recommended amount of gas which should be at least 1 liter (about 1 quart) per hour of use, or 2 liters (about 2 quarts) per hour when running daily. If you are not sure how much fuel is needed for your unit, consult the owner’s manual or contact us for assistance—we’d love to help!

Check your battery if there is no spark plug:

Check the battery to see if it is still good. If you have a bad battery, replace it immediately. If the battery is good, then check your spark plug and wire connections. A loose or damaged wire can cause a weak spark production and may need to be replaced as well.

Clean the spark plug and reconnect it to your generator with a new wire:

Now that you’ve cleaned the spark plug and reconnected it to your generator, it’s time to make sure there is a spark in your generator. If there isn’t one, try cleaning out some stuck debris from around the flywheel or cylinder head with a wire brush. You may need to use high-pressure air to blow out any debris that got wedged in between these parts of your equipment.

Once you have cleared out any obstructions within those areas of your machine, connect two wires from the end of each wire on top of each other (this will be called one set). These two sets should match up with corresponding terminals on either side; if they don’t match up but instead appear as different lengths, then this means there was some kind of damage during installation, and you will need a replacement part before continuing down this path.

Common Issues to Look Out for

Source: Home Battery Bank

If your generator has been sitting for a while, there are a few common problems to look out for. Firstly, when exposed to the elements, your generator seizes up; so it’s important to check that all the moving parts are still turning smoothly. You should also check for any signs of rust or corrosion, and if necessary, you can use a wire brush or steel wool to clean these away.

Another issue that can occur is blockage in the fuel lines. This is especially likely if you’re using old fuel but can also happen with fresh fuel if not filtered properly. If you suspect that there is a blockage, then you should try cleaning out the lines with a small wire brush or a pipe cleaner.

Finally, be sure to check all your spark-plug connections as these can corrode over time and require replacing. This is especially important if you’re using old spark plugs as they may not be producing enough spark to engage with your generator properly.

Preparing Your Generator for Initial Start-Up

Now that your generator is clean and ready to go, it’s time to prep it. This involves several steps, so be sure to take your time. Parts of this process can be dangerous if done incorrectly, so don’t hesitate to ask a professional for help if you’re unsure.

First, check the oil level of the generator. If the oil level is too low or too high, it can cause extensive damage to your generator’s engine and lead to expensive repair costs. Make sure that the oil level is at the appropriate level before continuing with anything else.

Once you have checked your oil pressure, fill up the fuel tank, and check that it has no impurities that might contaminate your generator’s engine. Make sure all clamps are secure and check any other maintenance-related items such as spark plugs or filters before attempting to start the generator.

Maintenance Checks After Starting a Generator that Has Been Sitting

There are a few maintenance tasks you need to carry out to ensure it continues running smoothly. First, check the oil level and be sure to add oil if needed. You should also check the air filter and spark plugs and replace them if they look worn. Additionally, you should inspect the fuel lines for any signs of abrasion or wear and tear. Finally, test out the generator by running it for short periods to ensure it is working correctly and you’re all set.

Tips for Storing a Generator When Not in Use

If you’re going to be storing your generator for an extended period, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

First off, make sure that you have a secure space where your generator is not exposed to extreme weather or moisture. You should also regularly check the oil levels and battery charge of the generator, as well as any hoses or connections. It’s also a good idea to turn off the fuel valves when not in use and make sure to disconnect them from any external sources.

Lastly, if you’re going to be storing it for several months at a time, you should consider running it periodically to ensure that it’s in proper working order, and all necessary components are still functioning well. Doing this regularly can protect your generator from developing problems while in storage, or parts becoming corroded due to a prolonged disuse.

Diagnosing Common Issues with Generators that Have Been Sitting

So, you’ve checked the fuel and oil, and everything looks good—what else could be wrong? Before starting your generator for the first time after a long period of rest, it’s important to inspect it for common issues that can arise from sitting.

One of the biggest causes of generator failure is a clogged or corroded carburetor. Unfortunately, it’s a relatively common issue with generators unused in months. To avoid this problem, you should check the carburetor for air leaks and clean it regularly.

You should also check for any rust or corrosion in the spark plug. If your spark plug is worn out or corroded, you’ll need to replace it before you can start your generator. Be sure to test any electrical connections or switches that could have become loose while sitting idle. Check out some diagnostic tools that might do the job for you.

How to Start a Gas Generator

Once you’ve followed the steps to empty and clean the fuel tank and check the oil, it’s time to start the generator. This part may sound intimidating, but it’s quite simple. First, make sure that no flammable material is near the generator before you start it up.

Look for a red switch a few inches above the engine. That’s your choke which you need to move to an “open” position for fuel to flow through and get your generator running. Once open, turn on the main switch (if your generator has one), and then pull on the starter cord until the engine starts up. If your generator doesn’t have a main switch, just pull on the starter cord directly.

Depending on how long your generator has been sitting, it might take more than one try before it catches and starts running. Once running, move the choke back into a “closed” position so that less fuel is passing through while still allowing enough air flow. Voilà! Now you know how to start a gas generator.


Why might I need to start a generator that has been sitting unused for a while?

Generators that have been sitting unused for an extended period can develop issues like stale fuel, clogged carburetors, and dead batteries. Starting it properly is essential to ensure it functions when needed.

What are the common problems I might encounter when trying to start a generator that has been sitting?

Common issues include difficulty starting due to stale fuel, a clogged carburetor, a dead battery, or general wear and tear from prolonged inactivity.

How long can a generator sit unused before it becomes a problem?

The length of time a generator can sit unused without issues varies depending on factors like the type of fuel, storage conditions, and the generator’s overall condition. In the article, you might find information on recommended maintenance intervals.

What steps should I take before attempting to start a generator that has been sitting for a while?

Before attempting to start a dormant generator, you should check the fuel quality, inspect for visible damage or corrosion, and ensure that all necessary maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, have been completed.

How can I address stale fuel in a generator that has been sitting?

The article may provide guidance on how to address stale fuel by draining the old fuel, cleaning the fuel system, and adding fresh fuel with a stabilizer.


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