So you got a new RV and it has a sweet generator capable of powering your RV for hours and hours. You’re in your new RV every weekend, you aren’t having any problems and it’s the time of your life. You get a little busy, and a couple of months go by. You get back out for a weekend and find your generator won’t start! You crank and crank and nothing, it’s dead. There’s nothing for it now but to call up an RV repair service to get it running again. $1,000.00 later it runs, but you just don’t feel the same sense of security you felt before. After all, it died for no reason, right? What happens if it dies again.
Sound familiar? We run into this story on an almost weekly basis. Proper generator maintenance is essential to keeping that critical piece of equipment reliable. The number one issue that we find when looking at our client’s generators, is that the carburetor has clogged due to neglect. This issue is primarily with gasoline burning generators, but it’s a doozy. You need to run your generator for an hour or two at minimum once a month, otherwise it will fail. These carburetors have fine orifices meant to atomize the fuel and send it into the combustion chamber. Ethanol mixed fuels, which is pretty much all gasoline these days, will gum up quickly. Even if you put fuel stabilizer, you might get a couple of months before this nuisance rears its ugly head.
Let me tell you, a gummed-up carburetor isn’t as simple as spraying seafoam in the intake and calling it a day. Sometimes that can work, like once in a blue moon, but it’s rare. Usually, you’ll spray sea foam all over it, dunk the fuel intake line into a bottle of pure seafoam and crank it until the sun goes down with no success. Sure, you could take it apart and rebuild the carb if you know what you’re doing, but most do not. You can’t really hire an RV tech to do it for you either, sure he could do it, but it’d cost you more in labor than the carburetor is worth. At the end of the day, the industry standard practice for a gummed-up carburetor is to replace it.
That’s right, you let your generator sit for a month without running it and now you have to fork over hundreds of dollars for a new carb! If you’ve got an Onan 4K generator, which is the most common unit, that new carb is going to cost you as much as $500 from Cummins. You could go on Amazon and buy a Chinese made carb for $50, but it may or may not run, in our experience it’s about 50-50 at best. Further, that can complicate the diagnosis process, if you’ve determined you need a new carb, then throw in a dead-on-arrival unit and find it still won’t run. Do you buy another carb and try again, or look for a different issue?
This issue really is only with the gasoline generators. You won’t find it with the diesel units, because the oil-based fuel doesn’t gum up, and you won’t find it with the LP units, because there’s no liquid in the system to gum up. Bottom line, if you’ve got a gas burner, keep it burning once a month at minimum or be prepared open up your wallet. Oh and one more thing, don’t forget your generator has circuit breakers under the cover. People always forget to look there when they lose power.