Do you have a generator? How long is it since you last had it running? Are you confident that it’ll fire up when you next need it? It’s always a good idea to start it up and let it run for 20 minutes every three months. But whatever you do, don’t wait until the power outage to find out there’s a problem. For portable gas-powered generators there are service providers in many towns but some of the work can be done at home.
Here are some on-going maintenance tips:
• When you’re using the generator, change the oil and check the filters every 50 to 60 hours and make sure you have plenty of spares on hand – when there’s a long power outage in your locale, chances are you won’t be the only one looking for that particular filter!
• Make sure the generator is clean – wiping off with rags and a simple degreaser will prevent dirt from gumming up the works. You can also clean the battery with baking soda and water.
• At the end of winter drain off the fuel tank and leave it empty. Don’t refill with clean fuel until the beginning of next winter.
• when you’re running the generator over a few hours, don’t let the fuel run out but keep topping it up, and remember to disconnect the electrical load before you shut down the generator.
• Always shut off the generator before you fill the gas tank and always allow it to cool down before you refill – if you spill gas onto a hot generator engine it can ignite.
• Check the spark plugs and if necessary clean both plugs and sockets with a recommended cleaner and wire brush.
If you have a hard-wired propane-powered generator make sure you have an annual, or even bi-annual, service agreement. The service should include:
• A change of oil, filters, and spark plugs.
• Inspection of the ignition mechanism, cooling system, engine gaskets, belts, hoses and clamps, fan guard, and air filter.
• Full servicing of the battery.
• Full inspection of the engine when running, including safety shutdown devices, mounting bolts, brackets and couplings, and checking for excessive noise or vibration.
• Thorough inspection of the automatic transfer switch.
For a more detailed check list for what you should expect of a generator service, click here.
For more information about generators and how to choose the right one for your needs, click here.