A generator isn’t an impulse purchase; as a rule, they’re fairly expensive and for a lot of people they’re considered to be an investment. With this in mind, it is important that you look after it with our easy to follow generator maintenance tips.
Knowing how to maintain your portable generator is as important as knowing how to use it correctly. Following these guidelines will make sure your portable generator will work at its maximum capacity for years to come, and will help you save money in the long run. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary repair costs, you will only need to worry about scheduled services.
Purchase a Cover For Your Portable Generator
As self-explanatory as this sounds, the first step in effective portable generator maintenance is purchasing the correct cover, or enclosure. Just like your pool pump needs protection from rain, so too does your generator. Generator use 101 is that you should not use a generator indoors, not even in a well-ventilated space. You also shouldn’t get a generator wet; therefore, for a portable model, a cover is a good idea or you can build a generator garage, which is something similar to a dog kennel. Having a generator enclosure also helps quiet your portable generator.
Regular Maintenance Checks
Regular maintenance checks is a way of keeping major problems at bay. It’s better to treat small issues as they come up rather than being faced with a major overhaul. Having a generator maintenance checklist will help you keep an accurate record of what needs to be checked, in what order and it gives you the chance to tick items off as you go. Look for loose wires, any corroded elements, or stuck buttons as well as frayed wires. Always make sure the area around the generator is clean, and check if it has sucked in any leaves, dust or dirt – remove them and clean out. Getting dirt in the alternator is a sure way of your generator not lasting.
Service Your Generator
Even if you haven’t used your generator, it still needs to be serviced. If you live in areas with severe weather conditions, like extreme heat and cold, or winds and storms, choose dates that you know fall outside of these times. We recommend spring and fall when the weather is (more) moderate. A full service takes up to an hour and if it’s done regularly it shouldn’t cost a fortune.
Schedule Your Generator’s Maintenance
It’s a good idea to draw up a generator maintenance schedule. Most maintenance will happen within a 6-month period, and this will include fairly simple inspections like making sure there’s enough oil, fuel, coolant and so on. Some of the more routine type tasks should take place monthly or, if you use your generator often, weekly. Something like replacing oil filters should happen every few months – what is important is that you don’t forget about it, whether it’s an installed generator or a portable one. They work hard and deserve TLC.
Make Sure You Use the Correct Cord
While this might make sense to you, not everyone understands that different chords offer different things and can be used in different environments. To give you an example: lighter chords increase the voltage; heavy-duty chords are for less voltage and can prevent unnecessary and early burn out; some cords can handle being outdoors, exposed to rain and heat and depending on the size of your generator and how loud it is you might want to get a longer cable.
Run the Generator Every Three Months
Good portable generator maintenance means running it every three months, especially if you only use it in emergencies: power outages, natural disasters, etc. Running the generator every three months for about 30 minutes charges the battery for the electric starter, and it’s quick and easy to do. Not doing it means you could find out too late that the starter isn’t actually working.
Changing Lubricant Oil and Filters
Check the instructions – you won’t need to do this every 3 or even every 6 months, but it is a good idea to do it once a year. Record the dates of the generator oil change, make sure the oil level is correct, and replace it when necessary. Liquid-cooled machines need oil replaced every 100 hours of running time and air-cooled machines should be done every 30-40 hours; also remember air-cooled generators need synthetic oil.
Fill Up Your Tank
Keep your tank filled with gas – if you’re around portable generators a fair bit then this will also seem like a no-brainer – when a generator runs out of fuel the power might stop but the electric load that’s in your house will still drain the magnetic field from the generator itself, which will result in the coils becoming demagnetized – something you definitely don’t want happening. Besides no power, you will have a huge repair bill or, depending on the damage, be buying a new generator. You can run a generator dry, but be sure to read the manual first; most shouldn’t be coupled to anything.
Remove Old Fuel
Fuel, like most things, ages, so it’s not a good idea to leave it in the tank for an indefinite amount of time. In the same breath, starting a generator with old fuel can also cause serious problems. Unfortunately, while we can give you advice on most things we can’t tell you how long it takes for it to reach its expiry date, but fuel does go ‘off’ quicker than diesel. How fast this happens depends on the additives used. If you’re unsure then we suggest you replace it rather. Although it seems like a waste of money, replacing the fuel is much cheaper than replacing expensive parts.
We expect a lot from our portable generator, so the least we can do is make sure it is maintained and serviced regularly. A little bit of time spent ensuring everything works as it is should will without a doubt, save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run.