5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Home Generator

An image of an older generator that Penco recently replaced in the Chicagoland area.

One thing we all know about the Greater Chicago area is that the weather can be unpredictable. At various times during the year, we can experience bouts of extreme cold or extreme heat, as well as strong storms during any season. More and more, those extreme weather events and other circumstances are knocking out the local power grid, leaving many area homes vulnerable.

By owning a standby generator, we know you’ve prepared in the past for such circumstances. The question is, will your current generator reliably turn on and power what you need when you need it most? In some cases, that might mean getting a Penco technician to come to your home and simply check on or repair your existing generator. In other cases, it’s a much shrewder decision to get your generator replaced. For the latter case, the question is: How do you know when it’s time? Here are five signs that a generator replacement may be needed.

Sign No. 1: Your Generator Is Old

Even a well-maintained generator – say, on a Penco maintenance plan with regularly scheduled check-upswill typically last 10 to 15 years on average. Why? Weather elements, debris, or other environmental factors will eventually wear down your generator over time. If your machine is reaching that point, it’s often a better idea to replace your generator rather than continuing to get your machine fixed.

Sign No. 2: Your Generator Is No Longer Reliable or Has Frequent Breakdowns

When a storm or severe weather hits the Greater Chicago area, you rely on your generator to turn on and power your home if the electrical grid goes out. If you find that you’ve been increasingly having to call for generator repairs, it may be an indication that your unit is no longer reliable – a condition that can pose a risk both to your home and to your safety.

Indeed, as generators age, components will wear out, and breakdowns will become more common. One clue might be excessive noise and vibration. While most generators typically produce some level of noise and vibration during operation, if you notice a sudden increase in volume, it could be something more than a simple repair. Weird noises or vibrations can be an indicator of problems within the motor or other critical components.

Another clue: Frequent stalling during operation is another sign that your generator may be nearing the end of its lifespan. When a generator stalls, this can be due to many reasons, including ignition issues, worn-out engine components, or even fuel delivery problems.

Finally, it’s certainly true that occasional repairs are expected during the lifespan of a generator. And if it’s just that, contact us at Penco and we can certainly come out to check your machine. However, as mentioned above, repeated repairs, stalling, or excessive noise can indicate the need for a replacement model.


Sign No. 3: Your Generator Has Problems Starting Up

One common sign that your generator is nearing the end of its life is that it encounters difficulty starting. Standby generators are designed to turn on automatically when your home loses power. In some cases, that might be a transfer switch not working properly, which we at Penco can certainly check into on your behalf. However, if it’s not the transfer switch, there is a likelihood that your generator has reached the end of the line.


Sign No. 4: Your Generator Has Visible Corrosion or Rust

Because your generator needs to be located outside the home, it will ultimately be subjected to rain, snow, and sleet – all of which can cause the metal components to rust. Water can damage both the exterior as well as get inside the generator, causing further performance issues. That’s why if you start to notice this significant corrosion or rust, it may be time for a replacement.


This image shows an old corroded generator and a new replacement installed by Penco.


Sign No. 5: Your Power Requirements Have Changed

When you first bought your generator, it’s likely you sized it based on the existing needs of your home. But say you’ve added a new addition since then and/or significantly increased the number of electrical appliances, then certainly your need for power will have also changed. One thing to remember is that, as your electrical needs grow, you shouldn’t automatically expect your existing generator to meet the extra load. Over time, this may cause an undersized generator to wear down more quickly, shortening its lifespan.

Also, in that kind of situation, your appliances may not be receiving a steady flow of electricity and begin faltering. Or, you might find your lights start flickering. Either way, it’s likely time to upgrade to a larger model that can power all your needs.


Being proactive and replacing your generator will not only give you more peace of mind, it’s typically the best option when it comes to your comfort and safety during a power outage. The upside is that, in the last decade or so, technology has been introduced to improve the functioning and monitoring of most generators, making them a lot more efficient and reliable. And as the Premier Generac Dealer in the Greater Chicago area, we can help you find a great generator that fits your exact power needs. Contact us today!

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