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How to Fix an Overloaded Generator? – Signs & DIY Fixes

How to Fix an Overloaded Generator
Written by Jamie Masterson

If your generator isn’t running as it’s supposed to be, it’s time to look for any signs of overload. If it’s an old unit that has been used for years, this is not surprising but new generators may also be overloaded for many reasons.

Here we will see when a generator may overload and what you can do about it with pro tips!

Signs of an Overloaded Generator

Signs of an overloaded generator

Power reduction

The generator might experience a reduction in power output as a result of an overload. For the same reason, as the generator is working too hard, it may not be producing enough power. As a result, an overload can cause the machine to perform poorly.

When heavily loaded, a generator may make strange sounds. You may hear abnormal noises after turning on a fan or TV. This means the generator cannot handle the load, so it is time to shut it down.


You can tell if your generator is overheating when it is running. The machine may run cooling fans, produce extra noise, or generate excessive heat. This occurs when it tries to complete the task and reduce its temperature.

Overheating is a sign of insulation failure or blockages. It’s also a sign that your generator is too loaded.

Soot in exhaust

Soot in exhaust

If you notice soot in the exhaust, you could have a problem with it, resulting in overloading.

Armature overheating

Heat buildup in the generator armature and other components indicates overheating.

Tripping breaker

In the case of a circuit, breaker overloading can trip it and cause the entire machine to shut down.

The generator fan makes too much noise

Whenever your fan is working hard to keep your engine cool, the generator is likely to get hot.

Sparking at the brushes

Sparking at the brushes

When there is sparking at the brushes attached with the commutator, your system is overheating.

Rapid changes in speed and voltage at the terminal

The transient and speed voltages will change when the generator is overloading.

Magnets get excited

If magnets become excited, excessive voltage can be the problem.

The speed of the prime rotor is very high

In the case of high speed with the generator’s prime rotor, overloading could result

Consequences of an overloaded generator

Other equipment may get damaged

A malfunctioning generator will affect other equipment powered by it;

Fire or explosion can result

An overheated piece of equipment can catch fire if left unattended for too long. You should check your generator if you see a spark or there is a gas tank nearby. This could lead to an explosion, so get the generator checked now.

Your generator’s lifespan may end up reduced

Your generator's lifespan may end up reduced

When your generator becomes overloaded or hot, your alternator will get damaged. This will shorten the lifespan of your unit.

How to Fix an Overloaded Generator

Read the owner’s manual

Regardless of where you have a generator set up, it is important to understand how it works. Determine any common problems, such as overloading by reading the manual.

Lubricate the bearings

Generator bearings are vital for engine performance, which supports the electrical output.

These surfaces will remain cool, clean, and protected with a good dose of synthetic oil.

Electricity only for designated appliances

Plugging everything you have into your generator is one of the easiest ways to overload it. Don’t plug everything into your generator at once.

Do not use your generator as the primary source of power for your whole house, especially when using electric heaters, AC, and other power-hungry appliances.

Turn it off when you hear strange noises

Strange noises are not normal and it is best to turn the generator off as soon as you hear abnormal noises. This will help avoid further damage getting done to the generator.

Fuse protection

A dedicated power line will handle overloads in most cases. It’s worthwhile to invest in a GFCI extension cord if you’re using appliances from a generator. Both appliances and generators will gain protection from GFCIs.

Maintaining correct oil and coolant levels

Maintaining correct oil and coolant levels

If your generator seems overloaded, you also need to check the oil and coolant levels. You won’t have enough lubrication in your engine if you have too little oil or coolant. As a result, your generator ends up under unnecessary stress due to overheating.

Install overload protection on generators

Overload protection is available on many generators. A sensor detects too much power is getting supplied. This prevents damage caused by overcurrent.

Buy a larger generator

There is no one-size-fits-all generator. Prices and quality vary, so it’s important to know what you need before buying. You will need to determine how much power you require and the type of transfer switches you need.

Install a transfer switch

Transfer switches can supply electrical systems with a straight current from a generator.

Connecting your generator to the main electrical panel of your home without a switch is an overload risk.

Quick tips to avoid overloading the generator

  • Always run the generator at its maximum output and never load it beyond its power capacity
  • Match the generator’s starting and stopping controls with the demand to stabilize the supply
  • Use generators that adjust voltage automatically when voltage spikes or drops
  • Buy a bigger and more powerful generator
  • Ensure all circuits are adequately rated before connecting them to an outlet box
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the generator
  • When you connect power cords, you should not overtighten them
  • Use the same rating and quality as your old fuses and circuit breakers when replacing them


Q. Can generators explode?

Generators often use gasoline. Overloaded and overheated generators can be dangerous! An overloaded generator can cause a fire or even an explosion if you don’t notice it for a long time. An overloaded generator can cause a fire or even a blast if you don’t notice it for a long time.

Q. Is it advisable to run the generator for a long time before taking a break?

Generators vary in size and output, so they shouldn’t be on for longer than 6-12 hours, depending on the size. Before resuming operation, let the generator cool down completely to save gas and reduce the risk of a fire.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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