How To Start A Generator That Has Been Sitting?

Champion generator that has been sittingA lot of people buy a generator in order to use them only in emergency situations. So, when a generator has been sitting around for a very long time, it can happen that it won’t start when you actually need it. If you don’t know what to do when your generator won’t start, this article will help you in how to do it. Here are a few things you try to start a generator that has been sitting:

1. Basic Checkup

The main thing to do before anything else is check the basic things. Make sure that the generator has enough oil, that the fuel valve is turned on and that the choke is engaged. This is a very easy but very important step which anyone can easily forget. That’s why it’s important to keep that in mind before proceeding to other steps.

2. Get Some Fresh Fuel

When a generator has been sitting for a long time, the gas in it can be old. That is one of the reasons that it might not start when not being in use for so long. That is also one of the most common reasons when that happens too. The reason for that is because fuel is degradable so it’s just a natural process. That’s why it’s always recommended to have regular oil changes.

One way to figure out whether it’s old or not is by the looks of it. So, if the fuel looks even a little bit cloudy or foggy, it mean do is siphon the gas and then get some fresh one too. If you want to avoid that in the future, run the generator dry after using it. Or, another way is to just add fuel stabilizer. A fuel stabilizer is one of the most important things to have when you have a portable generator.

AP5000 generator, how to start if it's been sitting

3. Check the Spark Plug

The third on your checking list is a spark plug. If you don’t know how to check it then just pull it and you will be able to see the condition it is in. Get a carb cleaner in case the spark plug is dirty so you can clean it. Once you pull the spark plug, you should spray carb cleaner into the cylinder. There is a chance that the generator won’t start still even though you did correctly the other steps.

So, the next thing you should try is replacing the spark plug. There is a chance that the spark plug has gone bad or has gotten worn out despite it looking fine. That can easily happen to any spark plug and there is not much to do about except replace it. You can get one cheap and it’s always a good idea to have one just in case. Especially for situations like this.

4. Check the Air Filter

Once you are done with checking the spark plug, proceed to the air filter. A generator needs an airflow to work that is why it is important to check its air filter. There is a chance it is clogged and that’s why the generator won’t start. What you need to do is pull the air filter and then see if it is clogged or not.

If you don’t notice anything in particular, clean it just in case. You can even just whack it lightly against the floor or just try shaking the dust off by shaking the air filter. However, if it is clogged and/or looks worn, you should replace it, just like with the spark plug. One can very easily find them cheap so that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s never a bad idea to have spare one for situations like these.

5. The fuel line and the fuel filter

In case of the generator still not starting despite all the other checkups you’ve done, the next thing you need to do is check the fuel line. That is because any sort of pinches, clogs, cracks or even leaks can be to blame for the generator not starting. Sometimes, it is relatively easy to repair those damages however more often than not, you can’t. And, if you can’t fix it, then you should replace it as there is no other way around it.

It’s not really a thing that happens often so it wouldn’t be surprising if you don’t have a spare fuel line ready. However, you should still buy it in case the uncommon happens to you. Just because it is uncommon doesn’t mean it’s impossible to happen. Most portable generators don’t have fuel lines however you should check it if it does.

The fuel line can get easily clogged up. The way to check it is to remove the fuel line. In other words, detach it from the carburetor. Pay close attention to notice whether the fuel goes through the filter or not. If you notice that there are no gas drains, it is most likely clogged. In that case, the replacement of the fuel line is in order.

6. Clean the carburetor

Clean the carburetor using some carb cleaner. You just need to spray it in the carburetor’s orifices and jets. If you can’t clean it like that, you need to remove it and then do so. MAke sure not to scratch it or do some damage to it. Cleaning it is important because old fuel can cause problems to the generator.

7. Generators with electric start

If your generator has an electric start, check its battery. In case that it’s dead then you need to replace it. If the battery is not dead, check for blown fuses and then replace them. There could be some corrosion on the battery as well. Check the connections as well. Even if everything is fine, you should still clean battery terminals with a wire brush.


Hopefully you have found this article informative enough. And, hopefully now you know how to start a generator that has been sitting. Make sure to always keep safe when handling generators!

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