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How to Fix DEWALT Generator Problems

A collage of ways on starting a generator.

DEWALT’s conventional and inverter generators are reliable workhorses that deliver consistent power even in rough environments. Mostly, these power tools uphold DEWALT’s rigorous craftsmanship and dependability. But, you often end up scouring the great void for confusing solutions whenever a problem does occur.

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There are many possibilities for your current DEWALT generator problems, but these are some of the most common and easily identifiable:

1. Engine runs without AC output

2. Unit doesn’t run with load

3. Generator engine won’t work

4. The engine performs poorly

DEWALT Conventional And Inverter Generators

An orange generator with plugged charger.

DEWALT has been making fantastic power tools since its 1924 founding. This reputable brand’s generator units have technology that keeps up with the times and their loyal customers’ physical strength, such as their electric-start equipped models.

The company’s Inverter generators don’t enjoy the same level of renown as their conventional counterparts, and that may be due to their comparatively new technology.

However, their unmatched fuel efficiency, compact and lighter form factor, lower emissions, and quieter operation make DEWALT’s inverter engines worth the occasional hassle.

Fortunately for the common folk, both classifications of generators predominantly suffer from similar, if not the same, plights.

Although most of this guide references conventional generators, you can easily apply them to your inverter generator.

1. DEWALT Generator Doesn’t Output AC, But the Engine Runs

A portable generator on a white background.

You need more than just your generator’s engine to run; the generator needs to be capable of continuously providing a steady supply of AC power. Otherwise, you’re simply running an expensive white noise machine.

Solution 1: Connect Different Devices

Not getting the required AC output might not be with your generator, especially if it’s been running smoothly up until now. The real problem is with the device you have drawing out AC power.

Connect different devices you know for sure work and see if the AC output is still an issue.

Solution 2: Reset the Circuit Breaker

As with any calculated troubleshooting, you need to start with all the obvious stuff and rule them off as you work your way up. An open circuit breaker can cause the engine to run perfectly fine but not allow for any AC output.

The circuit breaker protects the generator and its outlets against electrical overloads. You need to press the push-to-reset circuit breaker to take back the power and rectify this issue.

Solution 3: Carefully Examine the Generator Connection

A poor connection can lead to the engine starting and firing fine but have it play coy with the AC output. This can also be true with a damaged or defective cord set. Ensure that you only use well-insulated grounded cord sets of the highest quality.

You’ll have to run an inspection on the generator and check the condition of the connection and that of the cord set.

Solution 4: Contact a Professional for Help

DEWALT’s user manual advises you to get in touch with an Independent Authorized Service Dealer (IASD) whenever you suspect a fault that originates in your generator’s engine.

This isn’t just to milk more cents out of you, but it’s a precaution that ensures your safety and the generator’s continual survival.

Solution 5: Close GFCI Receptacle

An open Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle might cause a lack of AC output. You’ll need to rectify the ground fault by pressing the GFCI receptacle’s Reset button. You can also use the Test button before each use to ensure everything is set to work.

2. DEWALT Generator Only Runs With No-Load

An outdoor generator beside the wall.

From curious experience, we’ve all learned that power outlets have a limit to the amount of load they can take, and they trip whenever that load is exceeded. Similarly, your DEWALT generator must be loaded within its limits to avoid bogging out.

Among the reasons that cause your generator to bog down when a load is applied instead of increasing force to meet the demand might be an external issue with a short circuit in the load that you’ve just connected.

Solution 1: Check Short Circuit on the Connected Load

Again, the problem might be with something other than your generator, but with the electrical load, you’re trying to connect. The generator will bog when you connect a load with a short circuit, so disconnect that short-circuited load and try another load that you’re certain works properly.

You can run a quick physical inspection of the connected electrical load and look for any damaged wiring or use a multimeter to test the load if there’re no obvious signs of electrical faults.

Solution 2: Verify Generator Load

You can cause damage to both the generator and connected electrical loads if you overload your unit beyond its rated wattage capacity. The bogging down of your generator might indicate that you’re demanding past what the generator can provide.

Take a step back and tally up the combined wattage of the electrical devices you have connected. Ensure that the total is within the wattage capacity of the generator and its receptacles. You should be able to find all the information you need on that specific tool’s data label.

Multiply volts with amps to get the device’s wattage if the wattage isn’t written out. Some devices require a temporary power surge to startup, so ensure that the higher wattage draw is within the generator’s capacity.

Solution 3: Deal With Engine Speed

Every DEWALT generator comes with a nominal engine speed. Engine speeds exceeding the set amount make for a dangerous machine, and these speeds can damage the generator from the added stress on the rotating components.

As such, attempting to run a generator below its nominal speeds can damage the generator and the driven tools because of a lower-than-required voltage output. DEWALT urges users to contact their closes IASD if deviating engine speeds are the suspected culprit.

However, an unsanctioned fix is to increase the engine speed yourself, as it is doable on some models with Honda engines. You’ll need to measure the engine’s rpm with a tachometer and check if it is running under the engine’s mandated speed which should be labeled somewhere on the generator.

To adjust the speed, you need to locate the little screw that should sit above the engine’s carburetor and looks like it has a spring screwed into it. Turn the screw in to increase the engine’s speed, and you should see it push more against the throttle lever/ governor behind it.

You can make this adjustment while the engine is running and continue reading the RPMs until they reach the desired level. This fix might only apply to some of DEWALT’s generators, especially with the upgrade in technology or move from Honda engines.

Solution 4: Inspect Generator Circuit

As there can be several causes of a short circuit in your generator’s circuit, DEWALT recommends taking the generator to be inspected and fixed at your local IASD.

Solution 5: Replace the Air Filter

A dirty air filter is the cause of many things, as most people rarely consider it. Inspecting and cleaning your air filter should be part of your regular maintenance regime for your DEWALT generator.

Servicing the air filter is essential to upkeep, as a dirty or damaged air filter could damage the engine.

To service it:

  • Locate the air filter and rotate the knob at the bottom of the air filter’s cover.
  • Remove the air filter and check that it is still slightly off-white.
  • Remove anything material that may be stuck in it.
  • Wash in clean water with non-abrasive soap mixed in.
  • Rinse the air filter and place a dry and clean cloth around it.
  • Squeeze the air filter as close to dry as possible but don’t wring/ twist it.
  • Reinstall the air filter and clean its cover before you cover it up.

Replace the air filter if it has excessive dirt or if it shows any damage.

3. DEWALT Generator Engine Won’t Start

A generator with separate battery.

The generator not starting or starting up fine but proceeding to run poorly can be due to issues that range from simple to IASD-concern. Your generator might only have a problem with a dirty filter or an engine compression loss.

Solution 1: Check the Fuel Shutoff

The fuel shutoff valve must be opened on the electric start or recoil starter engines before the generator can start working.

Solution 2: Look at the Fuel

You must ensure that your generator is always adequately fueled up and uses the correct fuel mixture, guaranteeing a long and sustained function.

Ensure that the fuel in the generator isn’t over 30 days old and, if it is, that the generator was run for at least 30 minutes in that 30 days. Old fuel can turn bad and damage the fuel system and its components.

To properly refuel,

  • Treat clean and fresh unleaded gasoline with a fuel stabilizer before pouring it into the generator.
  • Turn the generator off, allow the engine to cool, and be so for at least two minutes before refueling.
  • Place the generator on a level and stable surface outside or in a well-ventilated space.
  • Clean dirt and debris from the fuel cap and its surrounding area.
  • Slowly remove the fuel cap and add your generator’s recommended fuel.
  • Stop refueling once the fuel level reaches the fuel line and below the fuel screen; avoid overfilling past the lip.
  • Firmly resecure fuel cap.

Remember to empty the fuel system if you know you aren’t using the generator for long periods to avoid damage to the fuel system. You must keep the fuel in your fuel tank fresh, as stale fuel can be why your generator manages to start but run poorly.

Drain your generator’s fuel tank and refill it with fresh fuel if you suspect it has gone stale.

Solution 3: Clean Air Filter

You need to clean or replace the air filter if it has accumulated dirt, as it does with operation and time. You’ll need to regularly clean or replace the air filter if you use your generator in dustier environments than in a well-ventilated and used warehouse.

Check under the first section on how to replace an air filter in your generator, as a poorly performing engine is an almost sure sign that the air filter needs cleaning or replacement.

Generally, it would be best if you kept up with your generator’s given maintenance schedule to keep it performing at its best and not void its warranty. A standard plan mandates cleaning or replacing the air filter every season.

Solution 4: Deal With the Sparkplug

The engine won’t start when the sparkplug cable is disconnected and might start but perform sub-optimally if the wire isn’t correctly fitted. A damaged or worn sparkplug can also result in similar problems.

Before anything, it would be best to examine the sparkplug boot and wires for damage and proper connection. If everything checks out, disconnect the sparkplug wires as you would whenever inspecting your generator to help avoid any accidents.

You’ll also need to service the sparkplug and replace it every season to ensure that your generator keeps generating as it should.

To service the sparkplug:

  • You need to take a clean cloth and clean the area around the sparkplug.
  • Check the terminal for any wear, chips, or dents, and remove the sparkplug.
  • Thoroughly inspect the electrodes and rest of the sparkplug and replace the part if you see any damage, blemishes, or burned signs.
  • If the sparkplug is still healthy, check the electrode gap with your wire feeler gauge and gently reset the gap to between 0.028 to 0.031 inches.

Solution 5: Drain the Fuel Tank

You’ll again need to drain and replenish the fuel tank if you suspect water has infiltrated this delicate ecosystem. This is especially possible if the generator is worked outside, in a space susceptible to water leaks, or if the unit was used as part of a water-draining operation.

Besides the engine shaking and running poorly, you might notice unfamiliar smoke coming from the generator and possibly even water leaking from the power supply. You should immediately stop all operations, drain the water from the fuel tank, and refill it with fresh fuel.

Solution 6: Reset Choke Lever

An old choke covered with rust.

Another common mistake is over-choking the engine when starting it from cold. This is easily fixed by setting the choke control to the no-choke position.

Solution 7: Refill Oil in the Crankcase

Low oil levels in the crankcase can cause all your dismay, especially if the fuel levels aren’t checked and correct. Oil levels should be checked before every use of the generator and every 8 hours of running the generator.

As running the generator’s engine with low to no oil can result in irreversible damage, the machine is designed not to start when oil is depleted. It’s recommended to change the engine oil every 30 hours monthly when it operates under sweltering weather and heavy load.

To check and replace oil:

  • Place the generator on flat ground.
  • Take a cloth and clean the oil drain plug, oil fill, and surrounding areas.
  • Unscrew the oil fill cap off and draw out the dipstick.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe the dipstick clean.
  • Plunge the dipstick into the oil filler neck and draw it back to verify the oil level is closer to the dipstick’s head (marked with an H).
  • Refill oil if it is closer to the bottom marked L on the dipstick.
  • Otherwise, remove the oil drain plug and wait to drain any remaining oil into a collection container completely.
  • Replug the oil drain plug.
  • Slowly pour oil into the oil fill hole until the levels lie between H and L. Don’t fill past the H mark.
  • Resecure the oil fill cap and use your hand to tighten it.
  • Wipe clean any oil that may have spilled and dispose of old oil according to your local regulations.

Solution 8: Correct the Rich Fuel Mixture

In addition to not starting or bad performance, you might notice the fuel in your generator being depleted much quicker and a powerful fuel smell. With all of this evidence, your generator’s engine is likely running with a rich fuel mixture.

As a primary preventative and corrective measure, ensure that you use the correct mixture and quality and that the fuel level is always adequately filled with fresh and clean fuel.

However, beyond these measures, correcting the air-fuel ratio to right your engine from running rich can be tortuous past inspecting the carburetor; it’ll preserve years in your life by taking the generator to your local IASD.

Solution 9: Conduct Valve Job

Another less-talked concern is your generator’s intake valve being stuck or closed. DEWALT’s user manuals waste no time referring you to your closest servicing center because correcting this issue can be quite a pain.

A valve job can be difficult for people lacking experience and the necessary tools.

Your engine backfiring or exhausting through the intake valve is another blatant clue once you’ve finished all the more straightforward solutions.

You should check, and adjust when needed, your generator’s valve clearance after the first 50 hours of use and once every season afterward.

Generally, intake valve clearance should be between 0.004″ +/- 0.001″ inches when cold. With exhaust clearance at 0.006″ +/- 0.001″ inches also when cold. However, verify these values with the ones stated in the “Valve Clearance” subsection under your device’s “Maintenance” section.

Solution 10: Check Your Engine’s Compression

Because any engine relies on a delicate system, it’s best to take your generator to a service center again to check it out if you suspect a loss in the engine’s compression.

4. DEWALT Generator Engine Turns off During use

A person switching on the generator.

Besides an engine fault that would require a qualified technician, it can be straightforward to troubleshoot an engine that stalls. Common issues involve the machine being out of fuel to the engine needing an oil change.

Solution 1: Check Fuel Levels

You should always refill the engine with clean and fresh fuel before every use and drain it of fuel before lengthy storage intervals. Add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline and then reload the fuel tank.

Only refill when the generator is switched off and has been allowed time to cool down. Remember also to disconnect the sparkplug wire. Let any spilled fuel evaporate before you run the generator.

Allow 10-15 minutes for the fuel stabilizer to disperse in the fuel system if you added it after refueling.

Solution 2: Replenish Oil Levels

DEWALT generators should have a detection system for low oil levels to protect your engine. The oil level sensor is designed to shut the machine down when it detects dangerously low oil levels. Check and replenish the generator’s oil whenever needed.

Solution 3: Fix Engine Fault

DEWALT bemoans having DIYers tinkering with the generator’s engine, as these machines can be hazardous when used or modified incorrectly. They advise users to contact an IASD to check any suspected engine fouls thoroughly.

A faulty CO Detection and shutoff system could be one of the many problems that could affect your generator’s engine.

As a clue that there has been a problem with the Carbon Monoxide protection system, your well-functioning generator might suddenly switch off during operation with the CO Protect badge turning on its yellow light and flashing it for five minutes.

For generators equipped with a CO Protect module, you might be able to restart the generator, but it’ll turn itself off again. With all these signs, you should let a trained technician diagnose and repair this issue.

On the time and money-saving side, CO Protect might activate when it detects an increase in CO levels if you have other fuel-burning machines’ exhausts directed towards your generator that has this safety module.

Don’t regard the automatic shutoff as an error or fault but as warming that you need to rethink the dispelling of the exhausts from these combined fuel sources. Each device should be exhausting and far away from yourself and others; they should be run in areas with adequate ventilation.

5. DEWALT Generator Lacks Power

It should be fine if your generator engine suddenly lacks the same oomph it once had. When there’s a lack of power, your unit might be trying to tell you that it’s time for its service appointment or that the load exceeds its limits.

Solution 1: Reduce Your Connected Load

As with WIFI bandwidth, your generator has a fixed limit, and it may lose power to satisfy all the plugged load when you work it close to its limit.

When you lose power, start by disconnecting some of the load you have connected to the unit and see if the engine perks up.

Solution 2: Run Air Filter Maintenance

A dirty or damaged air filter is up there with a clogged or encumbered carburetor. When the air filter gets blocked by dirt and debris, it impedes clean air from making its way into the engine. As with fuel, the engine’s performance will suffer without clean air.

Clean a dirty air filter or replace a damaged one.

Solution 3: Service the Engine

Folks, you need to service your generator’s engine just like your car’s engine. DEWALT’s certified service centers will need your device’s service information to carry one out for you.

The required service information is as follows:

  • Model number,
  • Serial number, and
  • date and location of purchase.

Solution 4: Open the Choke

Your engine will lose power if the choke isn’t fully opened. You’ll want to put the choke lever in the no-choke or the run position.

6. DEWALT Generator Surges or Stumbles

A generator with voltage regulator.

It’s commonly due to needing to learn how to manage the choke or having a carburetor that runs too rich that you have engine surges and stumbles.

Solution 1: Know When to Open Choke

You must set the choke lever halfway until your generator’s engine runs smoothly before opening it. The machine will have these issues if you open it too soon.

Solution 2: Take it In

You should take your generator in to be serviced by a qualified professional if you think the carburetor is either running too lean or too rich.

Solution 3: Clean Air Filter

The air filter can also contribute to this poor performance on inverter generators, so ensure that you check and replace the inverter generator’s air filters if needs be.