Generators are typically most needed in the event of an emergency.
To ensure your generator is up to the task start it regularly and keep up with general maintenance. In this article we will be looking at a Honda EG2200X generator that has not been started in almost two decades.
How to start a generator that will not start
The generator we have here is an old crate style Honda EG2200X that has been sitting in storage for years. While there was never an issue with the generator, the owner needed a larger model and this small Honda generator was cast to the sidelines.
Although I have tried to start this generator a few times in the past it has never turned over. However, due to recent natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma it seems like now is the perfect time to fix a non-working generator.
Today we will be going through a few basic troubleshooting steps to start an old generator.
Generator will not start Troubleshooting Tips:
• Drain all old gas from tank and carburetor
• Clean sediment cup
• Clean carborator
• Check air cleaner
• Check/Replace spark plug
• Oil change
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (drain old gas from generator)
According to a FAQ by Exxon Mobile on storing gas-
“In general, gasoline should be used within a month of purchase. When the engine will not be used for an extended period of time, it’s best to drain the fuel tank and then run the engine until it stalls. If you choose to store gasoline and follow proper storage guidelines, the gasoline can be expected to remain of good quality for at least six months.”
Even under ideal storage conditions the gas in this tank is estimated to be anywhere from 5-10yrs old. For that reason we will begin by first draining all of the gas from the tank.
In addition to the tank we will also drain all old gas from the sediment cup and carburetor bowl.
With the fuel switch turned “Off”, remove the sediment cup using a 10mm socket.
Be careful when removing the sediment cup as it should be full of gas. There is also a small rubber 0-ring to keep your eye on.
Once the cup is removed get a container ready and turn the fuel switch to the “On” position. This will then allow the gas to drain out from the tank.
A metal soup can was used to catch the gas as it drained, turn the gas switch to “off” if the container becomes full. Discard of old gas in a safe/responsible way.
Drain Gas from generator carburetor
• Remove the side drain plug using the same 10mm socket, (gas will drain from carburetor bowl once removed).
• Remove the bottom plug (also 10mm) to remove the carburetor bowl. (small amount of gas will drain from bowl)
Tip, take care when removing the carburetor bowl as there is a rubber o-ring seal. Do not lose or damage.
Now we have completely drained all the old gas from the generator and can move onto the next step.
**See our complete list of Top Tools and Products for 2019 here**
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (clean sediment cup)
The sediment cup is designed to capture any dirt that comes from the fuel tank, preventing it from reaching the carburetor.
With the sediment cup removed from the generator be sure note to damage the small rubber 0-ring. If it looks worn it may have to be replaced.
As you can see from the photo below the cup is pretty dirty with old gas/grime.
Using the Carb-Cleaner carefully spray the inside of the cup to dissolve all particles. Take care to do this in a well ventilated area (outside) as Carb-Cleaners contain many harmful chemicals.
Once clean, reassembly the sediment cup on the generator.
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (clean generator carburetor)
Why does my generator not start?
One of the most common reasons why a gas generator will not start is a dirty carburetor.
Reasons to clean a generator carburetor:
• Remove dirt
• Remove varnish buildup, caused by old gas
• Improve idle on generator
• Restore the flow of fuel in the system
• Start an old generator
With the carburetor bowl removed from the generator here is a shot of the underside.
Using the carb-cleaner, spray this a area to remove any build up or gunk caused by old gas.
Special attention was giving to the center pin as this pin has a small hole where gas travels through into the carburetor. Therefore if this hole is blocked for any reason (dirt/grime), the generator will not start.
Once the generator carburetor has been cleaned re-assembly the carburetor bowl by tightening the bottom 10 mm screw.
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (check air filter on generator)
Next on the list, inspecting the air filter on the generator.
The air filter can be easily accessed by unscrewing the wing nut on top of the air filter box.
Here is a break down of the air cleaner assembly, taken from the Honda Generator EG1400X, EG2200x owners manual
It is always a good idea to inspect the air filter on equipment that has been sitting as mice and other animals can create nests here. In our case the air cleaner looked to be in fair condition but due to the age of the generator a new replacement was ordered anyway.
Replacing the air filter on the Honda Generator
The photo above shows the difference between the old air filter that was removed vs the new filter. As you can see the foam on the old air filter has started to deteriorate and is breaking loose. Since the cost of a new filter is pretty in-expensive and will provide clean air to the generator there is really no reason not to replace it.
To change the air filter on this generator just follow the steps above and unscrew the wing nut holding the old air filter on. Replace with the new filter and then tighten down the wing nut…done.
As an added bonus, we used some 303 Aerospace Protectant on the plastic housing that holds the air filter to clean it up and give it some protection. For anyone not familiar with this product I can’t say enough good things about it. Used heavily in the boating community due it it’s UV protection properties this spray works great to clean & protect plastic, rubber, vinyl and finished leather.
It also makes an excellent cleaner for car dashboards, to check out other reviews and see pricing here is a direct link to this spray on Amazon-> “303 Aerospace Protectant Spray”.
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (replace spark plug on generator)
A good spark plug is a vital part of a well tuned generator.
The spark plug is designed to ignite the air/gas mixture in the combustion chamber, in turn starting the generator. For more information on spark plugs check out the article “How Do Park Plugs Work” by Exxon Mobil.
While there are ways to check if a spark plug is still working, for the cost of a new plug we are just going to replace.
How to Replace the Spark Plug on a Generator:
• Remove the spark plug boot to access the plug
• With a deep well socket, remove the spark plug from the generator
Here is a shot of the old spark plug and the new NGK BPR6ES plug.
Honda has the following spark plug recommendations for the EG2200X portable generator:
• BPGES, BPRGES (NGK)
• W20EP-U, W20EPR-U (ND)
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (generator oil change)
Since we have no idea how many hours are on the oil in this old Honda generator we are just going to change it. To change the oil we decided it was a good idea to prop it so the oil can properly drain in a catch can.
With the generator propped up we can now easily access the drain plug and position the oil drain pan below. Remove the oil drain plug from the generator and let all the oil drain into the pan below…exciting!
Due to the fact that most generators sit unused for months at a time we are going to spend the few extra bucks and use full synthetic oil.
We will be using full synthetic motor oil in this generator, specifically Mobile 1 10W-40.
**As of July 2019 I have switched over to Amsoil 10W-30 Small Engine Fully Synthetic Oil
Should I use Full Synthetic oil in a generator?
Full synthetic motor oil has better molecule consistency over standard regular oil and tends to perform better in both extreme hot and cold temperatures. Since we do not plan on changing the oil often as usage will vary there is no reason not to go with a high quality full synthetic oil for this application.
Per the Owners Manual:
• The Honda EG2200X generator has an oil capacity of (0.63USqt).
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (new gas with Seafoam in generator)
If you remember going back to the start of this article, gas has a shelf life. (anywhere from 1 month to 6 months). Therefore, we will be using high quality non-Ethanol gas mixed with Seafoam for this generator.
Should I use Seafoam in my generator?
Seafoam has many uses:
• Fuel Stabalizer
• Cleans carburetor jets
• Cleans deposits
• Controls moisture in fuel
• + many other benefits per their can
Yes, I believe using Sea Foam is a good idea as a fuel additive for a generator. Since we do not know how long the fuel will be in this tank before it is used we want to treat the gas before adding it to the generator.
As a gas stabilizer use 1 oz of SeaFoam per 1 gallon of gas.
I have also used Seafoam in small engines and to treat fuel before winterizing a boat…both with very good results. For the cost it is worth the extra peace of mind of having your engine start when you need it.
Generator will not start Troubleshooting (Results/Conclusion)
As a result of the above steps. Yes, this old Honda generator started!
Thanks for sticking around and following through with us on this process. Thinking back, the single most important step seemed to be cleaning the carburetor on the generator. Any blockage in the carburetor and you will not get fuel through the system and your generator will not start…period.
When troubleshooting a generator that will not start the first thing would be to locate the user manual and go through their suggestions. Honda did a good job with the user manual for this EG2200X generator and most of the steps we took were outlined in their guide.
Also, a big thanks to Brian Noel on YouTube for a good video going over some of these steps along with how to clean a rusted gas tank:
In conclusion, get your generator ready before you need it. Keep it maintained. Start it regularly. We hope you enjoyed our article “Generator will not start troubleshooting tips”. If you had an old generator that wouldn’t start, hopefully some of this information will help you out.
**See our complete list of Top Tools and Products for 2019 here**
Best place to buy a small portable generator?
I tried everything but my old generator still won’t start!
Well if you still can’t get it to start or are just looking to pick up a new small gas powered generator. The Honda EU2000I Portable Generator with Inverter is probably one of most highly rated portable generators ever made. To check current pricing click on the photo below to open a new tab for reviews and pricing on Amazon.
What makes Honda Generators so good?
Honda has always been known for producing high quality motors for cars and motorcycles but they are also regarded as one of the best brands when it comes to small generators. What makes them one of the leading portable generator brands is the level of quality, efficiency and dependability built into every generator over decades of sales…Oh and they are also one of the quietest generators on the market.
A few of the downsides of running a gas powered generator:
• They need to be refueled with gas every few hours.
• The noise they make while they run.
Where the Honda EU2000I shines above some of the others in its class is its ability to produce clean power to run sensitive electronics all the while being one of the quietest generators available. The EU2000I is especially good for camping due to the low noise rating (around 60db) during operation. While other generators can deliver similar amounts of power, and sometimes at a lower cost, they tend to be much nosier.
Many owners run these generators day in and day out to provide power where places power is not readily available. Think street carts in New York City, where vendors use these generators to power lights, radios and other electronics to conduct business in a mobile storefront. With this small generator and a few gallons of gas handy they are able to keep the lights on (literally) all day long where this was once not possible.
Now many of us will not use a generator this frequently. Heck maybe it only gets started a couple times a year when the power goes out. But, if your looking for one of the best portable generators money can buy no other company has a reputation for rugged dependability like Honda.
**See our complete list of Top Tools and Products for 2019 here**
Portable Solar Powered Generators
In addition to restoring this old gas generator I have also decided to pick up a small portable solar powered generator. Instead of using gas to generate power, solar generators collect energy from the sun and store it within an internal battery.
The best of them use an internal lithium battery. Why lithium you ask?
Weight vs Capacity. When it comes to portability, everyone wants long run times in the smallest package as possible. For this, Lithium is king. (think cell phones and electric vehicles)
Check out my review of the Kodiak Solar generator by Inergy and see some of the biggest differences between gas and solar backup power.