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How to start a generator

Generator Quick Start Guide

When a storm hits and your electricity goes out, you’ll need to get your portable generator up and running as soon as possible.

You may have purchased your generator several years ago and have forgotten how to start it. When a blackout strikes, though, you just want your power restored as fast as possible.

Keep these instructions on hand as a reference so you’ll know how to start your generator when you need it most.


1. Consult your owner’s manual

We all despise reading user manuals. Every product, however, has its own peculiarities and operating processes. As a result, double-check your instructions to ensure that you’ve assembled the generator correctly and know how to start it. Here’s an example of a quick-start guide from one company.

2. Check for damage or gas leak

If your building was struck by a storm, it’s a good idea to check for damage. Most importantly, you don’t want to use a gasoline-fueled generator if you have experienced a natural gas leak.

3. Move your generator outside, away from the house

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to run your generator outside, at least 15 feet away from your home. Never use a generator indoors, in your garage, or in your shed. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you in minutes if you operate a generator inside your garage.

4. Don’t operate your generator (unprotected) in a storm

Electrical shock and engine damage can be caused by heavy rain. However, if you need to run a generator while it’s raining, you can get a generator tent to protect your equipment from the weather.

5. Check fuel levels for oil and gas

A portable generator is powered by gas. Always use FRESH gasoline when filling up your generator. Over time, the ethanol in the gas will absorb water. Stale fuel not only makes starting difficult or impossible, but it can also damage the engine. Check the oil level in your generator as well to ensure that the engine is properly lubricated. Fill the oil to the generator’s prescribed line.

6. Remove any cords plugged into the generator

Disconnect all cords before starting the generator. Before connecting your generator to your home, you should turn it on. During startup, you don’t want any load attached.

Next: Turning On Your Generator

1. Turn fuel valve on

generator fuel valveFlip the fuel valve on. When the fuel valve is released, fuel travels to the carburetor to help the generator start.

2. Turn choke on

Move the choke rod from right to left. This makes it easier for the engine to start running.

3. Turn ignition (or engine switch) on

To turn the engine on, many generators require you to flip a switch. Before you pull the recoil cord, this is essentially an engine switch that will turn on.

If your generator has an electric start button, you can use that instead of the recoil cord option described below to start it. Your battery may be dead if the electric starter does not operate. You can overcome this problem by using a trickle charger to charge the battery.

4. Pull recoil cord

When you pull the recoil cord, you are actually starting the engine. Pull the recoil cord until you feel a bit of resistance and then let it go back. If the engine doesn’t start, try pulling the cord again.

5. After the engine starts, move engine choke to “run”

When the engine has been running for a few moments, you can move the choke back to the “run” position.


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