With winter rolling in, your generator is probably going to be stretching its legs quite a bit from now until about April, especially if you live in an area with harsh winters. While home generators are incredibly important to maintaining power and heat in emergency situations and adverse weather, they’re not immune from wear and tear and can become quite dangerous if they begin to fail by way of overloading.

Knowing the signs of a generator overloading is incredibly important to keeping an eye on the integrity of your generator.

Overloading may be expected from an older unit or it may be a complete surprise to you. Being aware of your generator and its behaviors is important to the continued functioning of the generator and the overall safety of your home.

Below we’ve outlined some of the signs you need to look for in an overloading generator.


One sure sign is that your generator is overheating in use. It may be running fans excessively to cool itself off, making loud noises, or giving off excess heat as it works to get the job done and cool itself down. While overheating can be caused by other issues such as insulation or blockages, it’s a good sign there’s been an overload in your generator.

Power Reduction

Another way an overload might present itself is as a reduction of power output for the generator. In addition to working too hard, the generator may be working too hard for too little of an output of power. The work it does may be cut in half by an overload resulting in poor performance by the machine.

Soot in Exhaust

One very clear sign of a generator overload is the appearance of soot in the exhaust of the generator. While dark exhaust is normal, as a sign of carbon particles, soot left over is not so normal. It could be a sign of a clog, of bad filtering, and any other number of things but it all often adds up to an overloading generator that has a defect.

Related Questions

What Causes an Overload?

An overload in a generator generally happens when too many appliances are plugged into the generator. This causes the generator to exceed its designed wattage. Some generators are protected from an overload by circuit breakers to help combat this but if not, you should know the signs.

Is It Dangerous?

Generators run on gasoline, which is extremely flammable. Overheating near the tank or any sort of spark near the tank can cause an incredibly dangerous explosion from the generator so keeping an eye on a potential overload is incredibly important.

Know the signs of a generator overload and know the risks associated with the signs. Be safe this winter. If you suspect a problem with your generator call a licensed electrician or electrical contractor for assistance.

Bratcher Electric Inc can help you with every aspect of your home generator. Whether you are looking to buy a new generator or need emergency back-up services, Bratcher Electric is your one stop source for all generator and electrical contracting needs.

Our electrical contracting services include residential, commercial, and industrial services such as new home wiring, code upgrades, surge protection, service maintenance and more! We are also an authorized dealer of Quiet Cool Whole House Fans which can help you save money. We have over 60 years of professional electrical experience and are ready to help!