How Do You Troubleshoot A Generator?

How Do You Troubleshoot A Generator?

If your generator is looking, sounding, or performing in a way that concerns you, it might be time to troubleshoot it. So, how do you troubleshoot a generator? Troubleshooting involves looking at a number of potential causes of an issue, ticking them off as you go until finding and identifying the main problem. The type of troubleshooting you do will depend on the problem you’re facing, but most times you can find the issue pretty easily by following the below five steps to troubleshooting a generator.

  1. Check the fuel tank
    Like all fossil-fuel engines on the planet, your diesel or petrol generator needs fuel to operate. The first stop on the generator troubleshooting journey is to make sure there is, in fact, fuel available in the generator’s fuel tank. A common sign of fuel shortage is a generator that swings with the ignition but it doesn’t start up.
  2. Check the spark plug
    Another common cause of generator problems has to do with a tiny little piece of equipment whose sole job is to light sparks! When your generator’s spark plug is faulty, there’s no way it can operate at all. Depending on the type of spark plug fault, signs could include a generator that swings but won’t start up, or your ignition comes on but it doesn’t swing.
  3. Check the battery
    Now, if your generator is dead, dead, dead when you try to turn it on, that is most likely an issue with the unit’s battery. The battery is like the heart of the generator: if the heart stops beating, every other part of the body can’t function. If you’re struggling to find your generator’s battery, consult your manufacturer’s handbook or give us a call and we’ll help you out!
  4. Check the oil level
    Like coffee to a human being, a generator needs a healthy oil level at all times to ensure correct operating conditions. Without enough oil, the generator’s moving parts will wear down much faster, resulting in strange noises, smokey discharge, and ultimately the death of the generator. Other than oil level, you also want to check the quality of the oil, replacing it if the oil is too thin or dirty.
  5. Check the connections
    This final step is probably better left to the generator specialists or electricians who installed your generator. It involves troubleshooting the connections that link your generator to your building’s main power grid. Sometimes a generator issue isn’t with the generator itself, but rather with the connection between it and the grid it is feeding power into.

Get KZN’s best generator troubleshooters on the case

With decades upon decades of experience and knowledge relating to all sorts of generators, yours is in good hands when we’re troubleshooting it. Our goal is to find the issue quickly, repair or replace it with haste, and get your generator up and running again as soon as possible. Explore our generator repair services, or contact S&A Generators to book an inspection for your troubled generator.

8 Signs You Need A Diesel Generator Mechanic

8 Signs You Need A Diesel Generator Mechanic

Like all internal combustion engines, there’s a lot that can go wrong with a diesel generator’s engine. With so many moving parts under immense levels of pressure, it’s no wonder diesel engines break down from time to time. As diesel generator repair specialists, we have been working on faulty diesel generators for decades, and know exactly what to look for in a damaged generator. In this article we’re looking at the eight most common signs you need a diesel generator mechanic:

  1. Problems with starting

Diesel engines rely on an immense amount of compression to function optimally. Unfortunately, when seals in the combustion chamber start to deteriorate, this compression can drop and lead to a diesel engine that keeps swinging but just won’t start.

  1. Blue exhaust smoke

A big red flag when it comes to diesel generators is the appearance of blue smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. This is a clear indication that your generator is burning engine oil, which really shouldn’t be happening if your generator’s engine components are all in good working order.

  1. Loss of engine power

This one is a bit tougher to pinpoint on a diesel generator, since you’re not actually revving the engine as you would in a car. Nevertheless, one can clearly tell just by assessing the genset that the diesel engine is not running as powerfully as it should be, which is another serious cause for concern.

  1. Terrible fuel economy

Is your diesel generator going through fuel faster than it used to for the same amount of operating hours? A thirsty engine is usually a sign of damaged components, with the most likely culprits being your generator engine’s injectors or the rings.

  1. Excessive or strange noise

Compression and timing issues in diesel engines are clear to see (well, to hear). If you’ve fired up your diesel generator and it’s sounding different, like loud clanking noises or sounds you haven’t heard before, this could be a sign of serious engine trauma.

  1. Heightened oil consumption

Some diesel engines sip on engine oil; others need to take large gulps to stay in operation. If you’ve noticed that your diesel generator is requiring more oil top-ups than usual, this is a sign that you might need a diesel generator mechanic to pay you a visit. This is especially true if you don’t see any external signs of oil leaking from the genset.

  1. Rough engine idling

Another clear sign that a diesel generator mechanic is required involves rough idling. There are two types of rough idling to keep an ear open for. Hunting idling which is when the engine idles up and down in intervals, and Missing idling which is when you hear slight hesitations in the engine’s idling. Rough idling could be caused by poor timing or leaking injectors.

  1. Engine runaway

This is when your diesel generator’s engine keeps running for a little while after you’ve switched off the ignition. It’s a clear sign that there’s an issue with the engine’s combustion process, as runaway usually means that a bit of oil is leaking into the combustion chamber. Since diesel engines can theoretically run on engine oil, the engine burns up the bit of oil that’s leaked in – even after it has been shut off.

Find expert diesel generator mechanic services in Durban

If your diesel generator is exhibiting one or more of the above eight signs of damage, it might be time to call in a diesel generator mechanic. S&A Generators offers expert diesel engine repairs and maintenance in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. We are also able to assist with generator fuel refills, planned generator maintenance (to prevent generator repairs), and the sourcing and installation of new generators. Get in touch today to find out more!

Emergency Generator Services From S&A Generators

Emergency Generator Services From S&A Generators

As generator specialists, S&A Generators offers emergency generator services in addition to installation, maintenance and repairs. Our support services are designed to help you get back up and running in the event of problems such as generator failure. Operating across KwaZulu-Natal, our experienced technicians are available 24-7 to assist in case of emergencies.

To help you get the help you need, we offer support for critical, urgent and important emergencies. Some problems can pose a major risk to operational effectiveness and safety. Other problems may be serious, but may not require immediate assistance from our helpful emergency generator services team. There are also important problems that may not pose a major risk but still need to be resolved quickly.

S&A Generators Emergency Generator Services

Our emergency generator services provide call-outs to your premises. These include initial fault detection to identify the problem. We then provide problem-solving resolution of generator sets driven by fuel-powered engines if there has been a mechanical breakdown, start failure or stalling. If any spares or additional equipment are needed, we will advise on what is needed. You can then place your order to get the parts you need as quickly as possible. We offer support services across all parts of KZN, with travel times that depend on the distance from our headquarters in Gillitts, Durban. Here is a breakdown of how we can assist in critical, urgent and important emergencies.


We provide 24-7 assistance in the case of critical emergencies. This applies to major failures that affect the effectiveness of operations throughout the building. This does not simply mean an inability to perform day-to-day operations. It means having the entire building and all areas of operations affected. Healthcare buildings and other similar buildings that cannot afford generator failure will need critical assistance, for example. It also applies to generator failures that can pose a safety hazard to occupants within the building. If safety hazards arise, it is essential to get help immediately


For generator failures that do not pose safety hazards but still affect the overall effectiveness of the building’s operations, emergencies are classified as urgent rather than critical. Urgent support services are provided between 07h00 and 17h00, Monday to Friday. If you are unable to occupy buildings or continue operating efficiently, you would need help quickly.


Other failures can still cause havoc with day-to-day operations, even if they do not cause major operational problems or safety hazards. These situations are still classed as important as they result in downtime. Important support services are provided from 07h00 until 17h00 on weekdays, Monday through to Friday. As we mentioned above, we provide call-outs across the province. Arrival times of our technicians onsite are dependent on where you are located and the availability of a technician. Within the Durban Central area, you will get help within 30 minutes. If you are based in Pietermaritzburg, you can expect to see our technicians in approximately 1 hour. Our team will reach Port Shepstone customers in 1.5 hours. Richards Bay customers will be reached 2 hours, while Newcastle customers will be helped in 3 hours.

To request our generator emergency services and get help from our friendly, helpful, experienced technicians, contact S&A Generators now.

3 Generator Repairs We Commonly Carry Out

3 Generator Repairs We Commonly Carry Out

Generators, like any mechanical devices, are prone to degradation during their operational lives. Even those generators that stand unused for weeks every year can develop issues. At S&A Generators, we’ve seen all varieties of generator problems, and there hasn’t been a generator-related issue that we haven’t been able to figure out. This article looks at a few generator repairs that we commonly carry out for customers in KwaZulu-Natal.

Generator wiring repairs

Power surges are a common occurrence in South Africa, and they can sometimes have devastating consequences for backup generators. During large storms, or in times of load shedding, surges are able to damage important generator parts. We strongly recommend installing a surge arrestor to prevent surge-related generator damage in the future.

Resetting controller alarms

Genset controllers are electronic systems used to monitor generators in terms of voltage, current, temperature, oil levels, etc. Very often, these controllers (specifically the alarms) malfunction, and when this happens the generator won’t start. Resetting these controller alarms is also a common generator repair we regularly carry out.

Repairs to radiator cores

A vital component of every generator is its radiator. Without this part working at its best, the generator risks overheating and eventual breakdown. Something we see quite often, when performing generator maintenance for our clients, is radiator core damage. Repairs to generator radiator cores is something we are able to facilitate.

Expert generator repairs in KwaZulu-Natal

S&A Generators specialises in generator repairs and other generator-related services. We can source and install new generators, relocate generators, connect new generators to building electrics, provide planned generator maintenance, and even diesel generator refilling. Contact us on +27317028621 or [email protected]. Alternatively, fill in the form on our S&A Generators contact page.

Signs Your Generator Needs Maintenance

Signs Your Generator Needs Maintenance

If you’re operating a business in South Africa, you’ve more than likely been affected by the periodic load shedding that Eskom implements as and when required. Chances are you’ve even invested in a diesel generator to keep your business operations going when the power goes out. This blog article takes a look at seven signs your generator might need generator specialists to take a look – so that it functions when you need it most…

How to Tell If Your Generator Needs Repairs

1. Excessive Leaks

The first sign of a faulty backup generator is the easiest to spot. If you notice puddles of diesel or other fluids underneath your generator, there’s a serious problem. If the liquid is diesel (or whatever fuel your generator runs on) you run the risk of using up a lot of fuel in a short period of time, which will cost you. If the fluid is coolant, you run the risk of your generator overheating after a while of operation. Be sure to call a generator maintenance team as soon as your generator seems to have sprung a leak.

2. Issues when Starting

So, the lights have gone out and Eskom says you’re experiencing stage 3 load shedding. You go outside to get the backup generator started, but it’s spluttering and spitting before eventually starting up. This could be due to it not being started for a while, and might not be an issue at all. However, if your generator is slugging to get going every time you switch it on, this is a sign of something more serious.

3. Damaged Components

Before starting up your generator, take a walk around it and visually inspect the components. When the lights stay on for weeks and months at a time, a generator is forgotten. However, this neglect as it were often leads to components becoming caked in dust or sun damaged. Be sure to inspect your generator’s wires and cables for wear, and feel each nut and bolt to make sure they’re as tight as can be. If you notice a component that is clearly damaged, rather call in a generator specialist to take a look before activating it.

4. Excessive Smoke

Been a long while since you had to use your backup generator? Chances are there’ll be a few puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust for the first few seconds of start-up. However, if the smoke doesn’t dissipate after a minute or two, there could be a serious underlying issue. If the smoke is black, it’s almost certainly a problem that will require attention from a professional. When smoking excessively, turn of your generator immediately to avoid causing any further damage.

5. Strange Noises

Most generators are extremely loud, and it might be hard to distinguish between the normal noises a generator makes and other uncommon sounds that could indicate issues. We always recommend listening carefully to your generator when it’s in operation, and if you hear any metal-on-metal noises, or rattles that seem to be getting louder, get the number of a generator professional and let them take a look.

6. High Fuel Usage

When purchasing your backup generator, you should be given an indication of how much fuel your generator can take – and how many hours of operation a full tank should offer. However, if you notice during times of power outages that your generator’s fuel consumption is increasing dramatically, this could be indicative of an issue. If you’re unsure as to how long your generator should be able to operate given your generator’s fuel capacity – and the load it is required to power, contact generator experts and let them assess your situation.

7. It’s Really Old

Has your generator been sitting there since your building was built back in the early 1980s? It might be an obvious one, but the older your generator is – the greater the chance it might need generator maintenance. If your generator is a golden oldie, find out from management when last it was serviced – if ever – and be sure to book a generator service before next starting it up.

Get 24/7 Generator Maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal

S&A Generators has over 25 years of experience in the generator and backup power industry. We’re skilled generator professionals specialising in generator installations, generator repairs, managed generator maintenance, and generator support. We’re also able to relocate generators – regardless of size – when moving premises. Contact us today for any and all of your generator-related needs in KwaZulu-Natal!

How Our Generator Maintenance Service Works

How Our Generator Maintenance Service Works

To keep your generator running smoothly, generator maintenance is essential. As South Africa still faces plenty of concern when it comes to load shedding, more homes and businesses are starting to look at back-up solutions such as standby generators. These tools help to ensure that the lights stay on, even when the national electricity grid comes to a stand-still. With that said, simply buying and installing a generator is only the first step. In order to get the most from your generator, you will need to look at a generator maintenance plan that keeps your device going strong throughout the year.

S&A Generators offers a comprehensive generator maintenance service that keeps your generator in optimal condition throughout the year. This means that it will be able to work as expected whenever it is needed, without any issues. Keep reading to learn more about our maintenance service options.

How often should I service my generator?

A Guide to Our Generator Maintenance Service

Our generator maintenance service includes monthly (inspection), quarterly (routine) and annual (major) services. Here’s a breakdown of what each service entails.

Monthly (Inspection) Service

Each month, our generator maintenance service covers the following tasks that help to spot any potential issues and make sure that your generator is working at its best:

  • Thorough cleaning of your generator
  • Checks for abnormalities and leaks
  • Checks and top up of coolant
  • Checks and top up of oil
  • Checks and bleeding of water traps
  • Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
  • Checks of battery condition and charge rate
  • Checks of the control panel

Quarterly (Routine) Service

Every quarter, we do a routine generator maintenance service that is designed to give you optimal usage of your generator. Tasks done during this service include the following:

  • Cleaning of generator and plant room
  • Checks for issues and leaks
  • Operation of immersion heater and controls
  • Checks of battery for issues
  • Checks of coolant/oil levels and top ups
  • Checks and bleeding of water traps
  • Checks of the control panel
  • Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
  • Undertaking of mains fail on generator set/mains

Annual (Major) Service

Once a year, we perform a major service that ensures that your generator is still functioning at its best. The following is done during these services:

  • Oil replacement
  • Coolant replacement
  • Changing of all filters
  • Setting tappets to manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Cleaning of generator and plant room
  • Painting/touching up of exhaust housing

Get generator repairs

Along with our generator maintenance plans, we also provide maintenance as needed, although this can end up costing more than our service plans. We can also provide generator fuel top-ups as needed. To learn more about generator maintenance in Durban and surrounds, contact S&A Generators today.