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Your Honda Generator Bogs Down Under Load (Fixed!)

Your generator sounds like it’s struggling to keep running. It keeps bogging down whenever there is a load placed on it.

A Honda generator bogs down underload when too much load is applied, the carburetor is dirty, the fuel filter is clogged, the air filter is clogged, the choke is in the wrong position, the choke is stuck, or the spark arrestor screen is plugged.

Take caution when working with a hot generator. Remove the spark plug wire and wait for the engine to cool before making repairs. Follow all safety precautions listed in the Honda operator’s manual.

6 Reasons a Honda Generator Bogs Down Under Load

Too Much Load is Applied for the Honda Generator Size

The first thing to check for when your Honda generator bogs down is the wattage requirements of the items powered by the generator. Compare this with the load limit for the generator to make sure you are not overloading the generator.

The wattage requirements must be lower than the load limit. When the generator is overloaded, it will begin to run sluggishly, bog down, and possibly shut off. It may also cause damage to the generator and the items connected to it.

Follow these tips to determine the wattage capacity:

  • You will find the wattage of most electrical items listed on a tag attached to the item.
  • Some motors require additional wattage to start an item. In this case, the starting wattage should be used when calculating wattage requirements.
  • Add the wattage of all items that will be plugged into the generator at one time to get a total.
  • This total wattage must be less than the generator’s wattage capacity.

Do not run more electrical items than the generator can handle. Once you start the Honda generator, plug in one item at a time to avoid overloading the generator at startup.

Dirty Carburetor on a Honda Generator

Old gas sitting in a Honda generator will leave behind a varnish that will coat the carburetor causing fuel restrictions.

These restrictions can be because of clogging of the fuel jet or it may be due to the internal carburetor parts sticking so the carburetor doesn’t work as designed.

When this happens, a sufficient amount of gas isn’t able to get to the carburetor and your generator will run rough. In order to fix this, you must remove the carburetor and clean or replace it.

To clean the carburetor, it’s a good idea to take photos through the disassembling process to make sure the small parts are placed in the correct positions when reinstalling the carburetor.

Remove the carburetor from the generator. Remove as much buildup as you can using a carburetor cleaner. If you find any damaged parts, use a carburetor rebuild kit to replace them. Once cleaned and repaired, install the carburetor.

If working with small parts is not something you want to tackle, you can purchase and replace a complete carburetor instead of tearing it apart to clean and rebuild it.

Clogged Fuel Filter on a Honda Generator

The fuel filter’s purpose is to keep dirt out of the fuel system and to protect the engine from wear. When the filter isn’t changed out regularly, it may become plugged and not allow a sufficient amount of fuel to pass through the filter.

A lack of fuel flowing through the filter will cause a Honda generator to bog down. Check the filter and replace it with a new one if you find it dirty.

To minimize a plugged filter on your generator, it’s best to replace the fuel filter each year when you are running your generator like most homeowners. If you use it more regularly, you must replace the filter more often.

Plugged Air Filter on a Honda Generator

Just like the fuel filter keeps dirt from entering into the fuel system, the air filter keeps dirt from entering the air intake to ensure the engine receives clean air.

Running a clean air filter is essential to protecting the engine. When the air filter becomes plugged it will not only restrict air needed for the engine to run efficiently, it can cause the engine to bog down and possibly overheat and shut down.

Check the air filter to make sure it is in good condition and free of dirt and debris. If you find the air filter is damaged or extremely dirty, you need to replace it. If it is in good condition but a little dirty, follow the instructions below to clean it.

I recommend replacing the air filter annually. You should also check and clean it prior to using the generator.

Clean a Honda generator primary foam-style air filter
Refer to your operator’s manual if you have a different type of filter for the cleaning instructions.

  • Remove the air filter from the housing.
  • Wipe out any dirt remaining in the air filter housing and cover. Don’t allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Inspect the foam filter for damage and replace it if needed.
  • If the filter is in good condition, clean it in soapy water and rinse it until the water runs clear.
  • Squeeze the filter and allow it to dry.
  • Coat the filter with clean engine oil (this is to help trap dirt). Squeeze excess oil from the filter.
  • Install the air filter.
  • Reattach the air filter cover.

Stuck Choke on a Honda Generator

A Honda generator can bog down when the choke isn’t in the right position due to not adjusting the choke lever correctly or the choke being stuck.

The choke is used to restrict airflow to start a cold engine. It must be placed in the on/closed position. This allows more fuel to get to the engine so it will form a combustion and run.

Once the engine warms, the choke lever must be adjusted to the off/open position to allow air to get to the engine so it continues to run. If the engine doesn’t get sufficient air, it will bog down and may not continue to run.

When the choke is placed in the correct position and you continue to have airflow problems, check the choke linkage and choke plate to make sure they are not stuck and they are opening and closing the choke correctly.

Use carburetor cleaner to free up a stuck choke plate so it moves freely.

Clogged Spark Arrestor on a Honda Generator

You will find a spark arrestor screen on the muffler. This is a required component to keep sparks and hot exhaust material from shooting out of the muffler. This will reduce burn injuries and potential fires.

When this metal screen becomes plugged with a buildup of soot, the generator will begin to run rough and possibly shut down because the hot exhaust air isn’t able to leave the engine.

Before removing and cleaning the spark arrestor, remove the spark plug and wait for the muffler to cool. Remove the spark arrestor screen and inspect its condition. Replace the screen with a new one if you find any tears or holes in the mesh screen.

If the screen appears to be in good condition, clean it with a commercial solvent or brush it lightly using a small metal brush to remove soot deposits. Once the screen is clean, place it back onto the muffler.