Generator Won’t Start: Here’s What To Do When The Weather Is Cold

A lot of us must have had mornings which started with nightmares involving our generators. It’s freezing outside. You need your generator now more than ever. However, it is refusing to crank up at this hour of need. Cold temperatures and a lot of the generators out there never went hand in hand. Generators too have their own reason to struggle in low temperatures.

The primary reason for the generator to struggle with starting properly usually has to do with fuel’s inability to vaporize well during low temperatures. The air and the cylinder which are already cold from the outside temperature are an unlikely platform for proper combustion making them an impediment for fuel to vaporize properly.


Oil tends to be thicker during colder weathers. When the oil is thick, pulling the cord and cranking up the generator is a battle for a losing cause mostly. It’s not like life would have been easier had you been using one of the modern generators that have an electric start. Outside cold temperatures would have effortlessly made the generator battery cold as well. Batteries usually have their powers reduced when they become cold and are below optimum regular temperatures. Under such a state, it is impossible for them to crank up the generator.

The above explanation was the technical part of things. But how do we handle the problem at hand? How do we avoid the torture of having to deal with a generator that simply won’t start while everyone in your house is freezing? Here we have listed a few ways do give them a read:

  1. Making Proper Use of the Batteries

We’ve talked in details earlier how one of the key reasons why a generator won’t start during a cold weather has to do with the cold battery inside. So how do you work around this problem?

For a start, keep your battery stored inside of the house at all times when the winter has arrived or is around the corner. This will help greatly to maintain optimum temperature for the battery which can be found in the warmth inside the house or an RV. You can even go for a battery charger in such cases. If you got one for free with your generator then it is great otherwise you can consider buying one too. Having a battery that is always revving to go will make sure you won’t have to suffer from the horrors of a generator that simply would not start.

2. Tweaking Oil the Right Way

Remember how we talked about oil in the beginning of this article? The colder the temperature, the colder the oil would be and the harder it would get to avoid the resistance it will eventually face when trying to crank up the generator. So what is the easy way out?

Firstly, as a generator user you must make sure that you are using the recommended viscosity oil for cold temperature as stated by the manufacturers. Keeping the generator inside the house or a heated area during winters is always the preferred option. If not possible at all then you should at the very least try to get a block heater for your unit’s engine.

The block heater need not be run endlessly for hours and hours. Simply turn it on a couple of hours before the time you expect to run your generator and you will be good to go.

3. Keep your generator snow-free at all times

Snow piling up on top of a generator is never good for business. It can strangle a generator in various ways blocking proper ventilation and preventing it from performing well. Snow can at times block the natural heat after sunrise from gracing the generator as well. The best way to deal with this is to purchase a decent snow hood or canopy for the generator unit.

generator won't start cold weather

Apart from snow, it is always a good idea to regularly clean your generator every now and then. All it takes are a few glances every once in a while to inspect if any dirt has gathered over the unit’s body. Clear off any dirt or debris when they gather on the generator’s body.

The Dark Method of Starting Up Your Generator In Cold Weather

Although it is not a method we recommend at all, but a lot of people do use engine starting fluids to crank up their units smoothly especially those living in places with temperatures beneath 0 degrees. Such fluids tend to ignite even in the harshest of conditions, helping to generate heat and vaporize fuel. Another reason why they are so popular and widely used is because how easily available they are. They can be found pretty much in any automotive store.

However the reason why we don’t recommend using such fluids mainly has to do with its effect on the engine.

Add the high compression of many generators which will only cause the fluid to ignite early causing pre-ignition which more than often results in damaged pistons and rod. And with no lubricating properly, it causes pistons in engines to wear off faster.

And now, to the main reason why we don’t recommend using starting fluids. Usage of such fluids will without a doubt nullify your warranty agreement meaning that you wouldn’t get any sort of help from your manufacturer in case the machine stops performing properly. You are on your own with the unit the minute you use starting fluids.

Instead of using fluids, the question we should be asking ourselves is to how to avoid putting ourselves in the position that will require using such fluids.

The weather is not in our hands. There is very little we could do when the freezing temperatures kick in and start affecting everything around us. However, proper maintenance and usage of the generator is definitely in our hands. Cranking up our unit smoothly is very much possible even when the weather is all mean as long as you follow the right steps. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some good insights over what can be done. We sincerely hope you don’t have to deal with the agony of a generator that simply won’t start on a cold winter morning or night.

  • September 2, 2018
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