15 Reasons Your Generac Generator Keeps On Shutting Off (Explained)

Life can go uninterrupted at home during power outages, courtesy of a portable generator. However, these helpful units can develop faults preventing you from enjoying their services. You may have noted your generator keeps on shutting off, or it won’t shut off at all regardless of how many times you’ve pressed the switch off button. So what could be the problem?

If your Generac generator keeps shutting off unexpectedly, the first thing to check is the generator’s load. Check fuel and oil levels once you’ve determined that your generator is not overloaded. If the problem persists, it could be an issue with the carburetor, engine, or shut-off valve.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to know about Generac generators and how to make them function efficiently for your home. This article will discuss why your generator won’t shut off and ways to fix it. 

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Why Does Your Generac Generator Keep Shutting Off?

Most people have a problem with their generator running for a few minutes then shut off. This can be not comforting, especially if it is the source of power in your house. Below are some possible reasons why your generator runs for a short period then goes off:

1. Overload

There is a maximum number of items that you should connect to your generator. If the things your generator should power consume more power than the generator can generate, expect it to go off after a short while. Therefore, always check if you run more items in the background than your generator can sustain. Also, if you run many things on a small generator, the generator can shut down to avoid impacting a lot of stress on the appliances.

You can solve the problem of losing power due to overload and shutting off the generator by reducing the appliances connected to the generator.  Just unplug the appliances needed, then restart the generator. Check your generator’s manual if you do not know how much power your generator can create. The manual would also direct you on the appliances to connect.

2. The Fuel Shutoff Valve Could Be Closed

Your portable generator has a fuel shut-off valve typically used when storing it for a long time. This valve prevents stale fuel from circulating unnecessarily. 

If this pipe is closed, your generator may run for a short period and stop. Examine the fuel shut-off valve to ensure it is open and not hindering the flow of fuel to the engine. If your shut-off valve is closed, you can solve the issue by simply opening the valve and restarting the generator.

3. Fuel Level

Your generator needs fuel to run. Hence if there is little fuel, the generator would only run for a few minutes and stop.  If you notice your generator ran only for a short period and would not restart, check on the fuel level.

To prevent this issue, make sure your generator fuel tank is always full before starting your generator. You can also go to a generator fuelled by natural gas or liquid propane directly from the utility to eliminate fuel issues.  However, in extreme weather conditions, the utility can fail.

4. Oil Level

If the oil levels are too low, your generator can go off. Though generators can still start with low oil, new models have low oil shut-off sensors to shut off the engine automatically. Also, running the generator with no oil or low oil can wear and destroy various engine parts.

Check the oil level using a dipstick to prevent your generator shut from ting down due to low oil levels. If the oil appears clean and low level, add more oil. If the oil level is low but filthy, it’s best to change the oil altogether.

In some cases, your generator may indicate a low oil pressure alert when there is no issue with the pressure. If this is the case, your oil pressure could have a problem that you need to address immediately.

5. Low Water Levels

A high rise in temperature without enough water levels in the radiator can be too much for the generator to deal with. Hence always check the water level and add the necessary amount of water.

6. Is the Choke Position Open for Long?

For portable generators, the choke needs to be placed in the full choke position for you to start the generator. After some minutes, you should turn the choke position to half, and after another few minutes, position it to run. If you leave the choke in full choke position for very long, the generator can run for a short period and shut off.

7. Rodents and Other Small Animals

The warmth generated by generators can attract various small animals. If these animals can’t find food, they will begin chewing any exposed wires or hoses, resulting in electrical issues or fluid leaks.

To solve the rodent and other small animals investing in your generator wires, get rid of the rodents and replace any chewed or destroyed wires. You can eliminate rodents and small animals by using traps or pesticides. For the pesticides, check with your local authorities for recommendations.  

You can always find ways to eliminate rodents in the future to prevent them from making a home in your expensive generators and destroying them.

8. Spark Plugs Could Be Dirty or Faulty

When the spark plugs are dirty or faulty, you will hear a cracking noise, and your generator may shut down after only a few seconds of running. You can solve this issue by replacing the spark plugs with new ones. However, if dirty, you should clean them.

9. Air Filter Could Be Clogged

Generator engines need clean air to circulate for every part to function well. A clogged air filter hinders enough clean air from spreading throughout the engine. The remedy for clogged air filters is cleaning or replacing your air filter for proper air circulation.

10. Fuel Tanks or Pipes Could Be Dirty

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Sometimes the pressure gets locked in your fuel tank, and dust or debris could cause restrictions, or the pipes can be damaged and cause a leak. As a result, it is difficult for the right amount of oil to circulate in the generator. Hence, dirty fuel tanks and pipes negatively affect the fuel system.

To solve the fuel system issue, check the fuel cap vent for any clogs. If everything is okay, check the fuel tank for sediment or the wrong fuel.  

Check if the fuel tank is dirty. If you notice any dirt or grime, clean the fuel tank and condition it. Also, release pressure in the fuel tank and examine all pipes to ensure they are in good condition.

11. Carburetor Issues

Bad fuel in the carburetor can make it dirty and cause volatile ingredients from fuel to evaporate.  This can be attributed to accumulated gas in the carburetor making a thick mixture that sticks in the carburetor disrupting the fuel supply.

You can eliminate this issue by keeping the carburetor clean. This is because if you leave the carburetor dirty for long, you’ll likely need to replace it soon.

12. Sensor Problem

The new models of Generac generators have many sensors. In some instances, if one sensor is faulty, it can affect or cause issues in other sensors. You can solve the faulty sensor issue by simply replacing it. Replacing it is not enough as the control panel may not have detected the new changes. Hence you need to reprogram the control panel to acknowledge the changes made before putting the generator.

This process can be challenging, especially if you do not have much experience handling sensors or reprogramming generator control panels. Hence it is good to call an experienced generator engineer. If you do not replace a sensor immediately after it develops a fault, you risk replacing all of them since one faulty sensor can interfere with the rest. Besides, sensors are the most expensive components of a generator.

13. Electrical Issues

Electrical issues can make your generator run for a few minutes and then go off. They can happen in any part of any circuit or wiring of the generator. 

Unless you are an experienced professional, it’s best not to fix electrical issues yourself. This is because they are complicated and dangerous and need experienced people only. It also requires an experienced electrician or technician to troubleshoot.

14. Engine Issues

An engine fault can also cause your generator to start and go off after a short time. However, this is not an issue you can diagnose yourself as it needs to be worked on by an experienced person. If you have accessed all the above suggestions and your generator continues to run and shut off after a short period, the engine could be having a fault. Hence call an experienced technician or a generator engineer.

15. Battery Problems

Typically battery issues begin with a battery charger. The charger could be faulty; the installer could have put the changer on the same circuit as a heater, causing the breaker to trip.  You could also have gotten a defective battery.

To solve this issue, check the battery charging issue to ascertain it is not faulty.  If it is defective, then replace it. If the charger has no fault, then check the circuitry for overload. You’ll likely have to replace the battery if the circuit is not overloaded and you still experience issues.

How Do Your Reset Your Generac Generator?

A Generac generator has a reset button. The enter button, which you use to switch off the generator, also restarts the machine. To reset your whole house generator, follow these steps.

  1. First, change the Generac generator into the off position.  You can turn the generator off by pressing the enter button. The enter button may not be present in all models.
  2. Change the generator into the off position.
  3. Take approximately 30 seconds after turning the generator off, then turn the generator into the manual position. This process is meant to turn your generator on.
  4. After the generator is on, it should start running. 
  5. Test it and let it run continuously for five minutes.
  6. Then shut it off once again.
  7. Give it 30 seconds and make sure it is completely shut off.
  8. After this, put the unit into an auto position.

Generac generators come with three different lights outside the generator: red, green, and yellow. Every light has a particular meaning.

It is crucial to know what each color means. The green color is an indication that the generator is in good condition. The yellow color means the generator is in good condition but needs maintenance. The yellow color may also indicate that the generator battery is low. 

Here are some steps to reset your yellow light:

  1. Examine the age and model of your generator.
  2. To reset, begin with turning off  the machine first.
  3. Then press the enter button twice, slowly and carefully.
  4. Lastly, switch the machine on by pressing auto. 

You will only see the red light when the generator has a fault. Hence if you notice the red color, the unit needs servicing immediately.  Servicing the unit immediately when you notice the alarm is crucial to avoid more damage. 

If the generator has indicated red, and you fail to fix the fault causing the alarm, then the generator may not function properly.

Once you fix the fault, the red light may not go away. Here are steps to follow when resetting the red button.

  1. Turn the generator off by pressing the off button
  2. Then hit on UP, UP, ESC, down, UP, ESC, up Enter buttons. 
  3. Using the up button, navigate through the word dealer, then press “Enter”
  4. Check dealer edit button 
  5. Using the up button, check for reset maintenance.
  6. Press enter
  7. Press the ESC button till there is a blink in the display. 
  8. Press enter 
  9. Hit on auto as this would return then unit into an auto mode.
  10. The display should be reading ready to run at this stage, and the status light indicates green

Reasons Your Generac Generator Won’t Shut Off

Sometimes you have the opposite problem, and your generator won’t shut off. If your generator won’t go off and keeps on running, check these suggestions:

  1. Check if the breaker is jammed in an open position. If this is the case, then make arrangements for the MCCB to be serviced.
  1. Check if the fuel pump is freely pumping fuel through the generator without receiving a signal to stop. Remember, you are operating on high and dangerous voltage. Hence be careful.
  1. Investigate if the control panel is still working. Loose wiring connections inside the panel can result in your generator not turning off. If this is the case, look for the loose wiring connections and try to fix them. However, remember to take precautions as your generator is operating under high voltage.
  1. Try to hit the emergency stop button. This should stop the generator if the connection has not been disabled.

If these reasons are not why your generator won’t go off, contact a local generator engineer to investigate the issue. Remember, you can also call a generator engineer to troubleshoot it for you. Don’t try it if you are not comfortable handling a generator running at 240 volts and above.

Here are the reasons why your generator would develop stop or start problems:

  • You have not read and applied the generator manual on the manufacturer’s service and maintenance recommendations.
  • Adverse weather conditions have affected the generator for a long time.

Going through your Generac generator manual is very crucial. It is a way of the manufacturer communicating how to use your generator safely and fix it in case of a problem.

How Do You Turn Off a Generac Generator?

You must turn off a generator in a certain way to ensure long service. Disconnect any connected devices, switch off the engine, and turn off the fuel valve. Below are detailed steps on how effectively to turn off your generator.

1. Disconnect All Connected Appliances 

When you decide to turn off your generator, the first thing to do is disconnect the load.  Turn the transfer switch to a neutral position or remove the connecter from the receptacle.

Note: You should never turn off your generator when loaded unless it’s an emergency. 

2. Turn Off the Engine Switch 

You turn off the engine switch by simply switching the engine to the off position through the generator switch. For generators with an electric start, turn off the engine by moving the start key anti-clockwise till you get to the nine o’clock position.

3. Turn Off the Fuel Valve 

Turning off the fuel valve prevents the fuel from getting into the carburetor. After these processes, your generator is safe and can serve you for a long time.

If this does not work for some reason, you can try this step:

4. Emergency Switch Off

It is not every day that you would comfortably switch off your generator using the above processes. The generator may develop a fault and fail to turn off in some instances. Or you may be in a situation whereby you cannot switch off the generator normally.  

As a result, you opt for an emergency switch off. To turn off the generator in an emergency, all you do is turn off the engine switch instantly. 

Can Generac Generators Run Continuously?

Yes, Generac generators can run continuously. However, the question is for how long due to the unpredictable circumstances of a power outage.

How long a generator can run depends on the model. Here are three categories of generator models and how long they can run, so keep on reading.

Gasoline Portable Generators

Typically gasoline portable generators run continuously for 12 hours. However, larger gasoline portable generators can run for eighteen to 20 hours straight. 

These portable generators have the lowest running time of all generators.  This is because you cannot fuel gasoline generators when in use. Gasoline generators heat up rapidly, and fueling while in use is dangerous, leading to sparks. 

Propane Portable Generators 

Propane portable generators can run continuously for 100 to 150 hours straight.  The good thing about propane portable generators is that you can refuel them, unlike portable gasoline generators. 

Therefore,  you can prolong their continuous running time by having two propane tanks and connecting them to a single gas line generator. In this case, whenever one tank starts running low, then you can easily refill it without interfering with the generator’s operations.  You need two propane tanks because every portable propane generator typically requires maintenance after operating for 100 hours. 

 Also, as you have noticed with your Generac portable generator produces some amount of heat which may increase with the number of hours it has been in operation.  Hence, you can let the generator run forever. You ought to give it time to cool down. 

Standby Generators 

As the name suggests, standby generators are here to offer support immediately in case of a power outage and run for the longest time of all generators. They have an automatic transfer switch; hence they will ensure zero power interruptions if the main power goes out.  

Conclusion

Your generator may fail to turn off, and sometimes it may run for a few minutes then shut down. These are indications that there is a fault in your generator, and your need to fix it asap. I hope this information is helpful for your current or future interactions with your Generac generator. 

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections since 2002. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and an FHA 203k Consultant. I started PickGenerators.com to help people better understand whole-house and portable generators.

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