TSE Power

What Are the Common Causes of Generator Failure?

Buy the perfect generator


Electricity is fundamental to virtually every commercial and domestic activity, from heating and lighting to industry and the internet. Although we’re fortunate in the UK to have a reliable national grid, it’s not infallible and the risk of power loss can only be mitigated effectively by using a portable generator for sale or rent. Equally in some commercial and industrial environments, generators are the only practical means of supplying power. Avoid piling calamity on catastrophe by knowing the common causes of generator failure so you can anticipate and prevent them.

Battery Failure

This is probably the number one cause, since the generator cannot power up if the battery fails. Sulphation build-up is a common reason. This happens gradually over the course of normal use as lead sulphates start to collect on the lead plates. Dirty and loose connections are other problems which accumulate over time. Regular inspections will enable you to keep on top of these issues and prevent them from incapacitating the battery.

Low Coolant

A generator, like a car, cannot function without an adequate level of coolant. If it falls too low and the machine overheats, you can end up with warped crankshafts, melted bearings and damage to the exhaust valves and radiator core. Coolant can gradually evaporate over time and should be kept topped up. If it falls too quickly, this might be a sign of a leak in the hoses. Check all hoses, joints and clamps regularly. If you decided on a portable generator for sale then this is one of the responsibilities of ownership, but even with a rental model, it’s only you the user who can monitor the coolant.


Low coolant isn’t the only cause of overheating. Other contributory factors include the build-up of debris and dirt which can collect very quickly in some outdoor environments. Look out too for clogged air filters and injectors or broken fans and fan belts. Even low levels of oil can be harmful. Ultimately the only reliable way to guard against overheating is to carry out frequent checks, test the generator at full load and quickly address all maintenance issues.

Fuel Problems

As part of the global strategy to combat climate change, the bio content level of modern fuel is increasing. When this kind of fuel stagnates it can lead to microbial build-up that will stop the generator from functioning. Filtration and circulation measures can remove harmful sediments such as sludge and water but, again, this requires vigilance. Keep your fuel as clean as possible and always make sure the tanks are refilled regularly.

Human Error

There are many kinds of mechanical causes for generator failure but don’t overlook the possibility of human error. Before embarking on detailed inspections or calling in the engineer, check that everything is properly switched on. Preventive maintenance should be part of your routine, but it involves turning off chargers, sensors and switchgear so make sure every component is correctly reset.

Choosing a Portable Generator for Sale or Rent

Whether you decide on a portable generator for sale or rent, don’t forget that installing it is just the beginning. A lot can go wrong, so be prepared.