Diesel generator troubleshooting & maintenance tips

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5 reasons why your diesel generator has failed to start

A diesel generator can fail to start due to several reasons. It is therefore important that regular maintenance is done on a generator to ensure it works properly. However, if your diesel generator is well kept and just refused to start, these could be the reasons why.

Faults in Battery

80% of generators’ failures to start are due to faults in the set’s battery. Weak or low
charged batteries are a common occurrence. Even a well-charged, well-maintained lead-acid battery will deteriorate over time.

Batteries must be replaced when they no longer hold a proper charge. Battery charger systems and alternators should be checked weekly on sets used for standby and emergency applications, and at least monthly on other applications.

Lack of fuel

Lack of fuel or low quality fuel are often reasons generator-set engines fail to start or to give rated power. Fuel quality should be checked as part of any planned maintenance visit. Technicians working on diesel-fueled units will check if water or other contaminants are in the fuel or in the unit’s filtration or delivery systems.

Having no fuel in diesel and gaseous units could be due to a lack of storage capacity or poor delivery from the on-site storage.

Low oil pressure

We recommend that the oil level for prime power sets be checked daily and maintained as
closely as possible to the dipstick ‘full’ mark. The most accurate readings are taken ten minutes after running the unit under load and shutting down.

Overheat Engine

Low coolant levels due to cooling system leaks are the most common reason engines fail because of overheating.

Poor filter elements

The air, oil and fuel filter elements must be changed per manufacturer’s
recommendations or whenever necessary due to site or operating conditions. Any blockage will restrict flow and result in reduced performance. Air and oil filter blockages also contribute to excessive engine wear.

Diesel Generator maintenance

Planned maintenance can be defined as performing service, maintenance, inspections and testing on a generator set on a pre-determined schedule.

How long should I run my generator for maintenance?

Daily or at Each Startup
(For standby generator sets these procedures may be performed weekly.) A walk around inspection should be performed on a daily basis and prior to starting the engine. The Pre-Start checks contained in Section 5 should be performed during this walk around.

Every Two Weeks
(For standby generator sets that have not been run.) Perform an operational check on the generator set by starting and running it for only 5 minutes.

Every Month
(For standby generator sets that have not been run on load.) Perform an operational and load check on the generator set by starting and running the generator set on at least 50% load for 1 to 2 hours.

Diesel generator maintenance tips

The best diesel generator maintenance practice is following the maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer of the generator.

But generally, do not run diesel engines at low loads for long periods. Every Twelve Months or 500 Hours:
Repeat the daily procedures plus the following:
1. Check all control system safety devices by electrically simulating faults.
2. Clean all battery cap vents.
3. Tighten all exhaust connections.
4. Tighten all electrical connections.
5. Start the engine and observe the instrument panel to ensure that all gauges and meters are operating properly.
9.3 Alternator Preventative Maintenance
There is no routine maintenance required on the alternator, however observe the following recommendations:
• Periodically inspect the alternator winding condition and carry out general cleaning.
• Periodically inspect the cable connections between the alternator and the circuit breaker.
• See your local Dealer.
9.4 Engine Preventative Maintenance

Also consult your local dealer for guidance on specific maintenance requirements for the following:

• Daily start up checks
• Weekly
• Service schedules – should only be completed by a qualified technician(s)

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