The most common diesel generator problems – Vital Power

Common diesel generator problems - Vital Power

The common diesel generator issues you need to know about

Many UK businesses right across the country have taken the smart step of investing in a standby generator. Having a source of backup power is a crucial step in preventing your business operations from coming to a standstill should your local area be subjected to a blackout.

Standby generators and generator power solutions have seen a rise in popularity in recent years, and it is not difficult to see why. Once you’ve decided how to choose the best diesel generator for your needs, you’ll need to think about how best to service it, and how to troubleshoot.

Whilst diesel generators are generally extremely durable and dependable, there are inevitably certain issues and problems you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Here at Vital Power our team of expert engineers can help with any repairs, and can provide advice on how to keep your generator in top working condition.

Read more about some of the most common diesel generator issues…

Dead battery

Of course, you invest in a diesel generator so you have a reliable source of power when there’s an outage. However, to make sure this is always the case and on hand when you need it, you’ll need to maintain your generator’s battery.

Because the generator can stand idle for prolonged periods of time, the battery can often drain unless placed on a trickle charger. However, keeping your battery ready to go is an easy, quick fix that you can add to your maintenance routine.

Studies have shown that in order to keep your generator in perfect working order, batteries should be replaced every three years. Another way in which to prolong their life is to get them serviced on a regular basis.

Running on empty / Out of fuel

A diesel generator being out of fuel is one of the most common problems owners run into. For this reason, make sure the generator fuel level is the first thing you check if your generator won’t start.

For the most part, fuel leaks relate to human error or a fuel level gauge error. Sometimes, the level gauges may not be working properly and may get stuck in position, showing that there is still plenty of fuel when in fact it is almost empty.

To avoid diesel fuel shortages, Vital Power offers regular refuelling and maintenance services for businesses.

Clogged filtration system

Within all modern, state-of-the-art diesel generators there will be a built-in air-filtration system, designed to make sure the carburettor receives the right level of oxygen to mix with the fuel. One of the most important elements of the internal combustion engine is the filtration system. This is a series of pipes which is designed to allow sufficient air to reach the engine.

Depending on the area that you have installed your unit, it is possible that debris and dirt can infiltrate these pipes. In some instances, this can lead to the mechanisms being shattered by rocks moving at extremely fast speeds.

To avoid clogs or damage from debris, make sure you or a specialist like one of the Vital Power team regularly cleans out the generator filtration system. Conducting a manual inspection of this on a consistent basis can help you to prevent any lasting damage.

Generator leaks

As mentioned above, the commercial power systems that are being operated frequently are typically forced to take on heavy workloads. To ensure a maintainable level, make sure you conduct load bank testing for your generator system.

Though they’re extremely reliable, generators can suffer from oil, fuel, or coolant leaks. If you do find a leak the best thing to do is call a qualified technician to come and patch or replace the necessary components.

However, your generator can sometimes think there is a leak when in fact there isn’t one. You will hear this referred to as ‘wet stacking’; it is the accumulation of unburned fuel, condensed water, carbon particles and acids in the exhaust system.

Regular scheduled services and manual generator checks can help make sure any leaks are picked up on before they cause major damage and lead to more expensive repairs.

Automatic controls are off

Every generator has a control panel that allows you to manage the generator settings. This panel also displays important engine and alternator information. Sometimes, your generator won’t start simply because its auto controls have been left in the ‘off’ position after a routine test or inspection.

According to our engineers, the majority of the service calls for control panel problems are caused by operators failing to turn on the automatic controls. So, if you can’t turn your generator on, make sure to check the auto controls first!

Broken block heater

Generators put in a lot of work, even when they’re sitting seemingly idle. The role of a block heater is to heat the coolant so that it circulates the engine block, it needs to keep the engine block warm to prevent thickening of oil. Eventually, all block heaters will fail because they run all day, every day – so this is something you should be aware of.

Contrary to misconceptions, block heaters are essential, even in warm climates. In general, they reduce wear and tear by maintaining more consistent temperatures throughout the cooling system.
Keep an eye on your generator block heater, and replace it when needed to avoid generator failure.

To have our expert team’s advice and assistance with repairs, contact Vital Power today.