Tips For Maintaining Your Generator

Got a generator? We're here to help. Use these tips for maintaining your generator for years to come

Learn how to maintain your generator

Electrical outages happen, and if you aren’t prepared for the consequences it can be a disastrous situation. During a natural disaster or an electrical storm power in rural communities can be out for weeks on end, and without a backup generator, you could be potentially sitting in the dark. Generators have evolved a lot from the noisy gas-powered models of the past, with newer models offering a lot longer running time while using less fuel. With the right generator in hand, you can potentially power an entire home, which during a storm can be a complete lifesaver if you have animals or young children. But, like with most combustion engines, a generator requires some maintenance and to keep it in optimal running condition.

Generator maintenance is essential to the operation of a generator because you only use it a few times a year. The process is similar to weatherizing other types of outdoor power tools, which tend to be susceptible to different weather elements during the year. A generator will seldom fail you if it’s maintained correctly, which is why generator maintenance is a good thing to be aware of. We are going to be taking a look at what you should do to maintain your generator during the year, read on below.

Does the Generator Have A Warranty?

The generator is like any other type of outdoor equipment, and with a price tag that can be quite an amount oftentimes generator owners will invest in a warranty. Most home improvement stores and equipment retailers offer some type of warranty plan to their customers, and if you plan on giving your generator heavy usage during the season you might want to invest in a warranty. A good rule of thumb is to invest in a warranty that covers both parts and labor, which means that the company will repair the unit free of cost. Although a warranty won’t last for the lifespan of the generator, it’s a good thing to have for the first few initial years of ownership.

Doing A Yearly Tune-Up On The Generator

Generators, for the most part, are powered by a gasoline engine, and as such, the engine will need a tune-up at least once a year. Although not as extensive as a vehicle tune-up, a small engine tune-up is still detailed. You’ll need to replace the spark plug, filters, and oil in the generator at the start of every winter season. The tune-up will keep the fluids fresh and prevent the generator from being damaged if it’s stored out in the cold, where fluids can begin to expire and cause the unit to have sludge. Don’t skimp on the quality of the parts either, because using a cheap spark plug or filter will only cause problems in the long run.

Make Sure That Your Generator Is Protected

Oftentimes we store our power equipment outdoors or in a cold shed during the wintertime, and these harsh elements can prematurely wear your generator out. Moisture can be a killer to any type of machinery or electronic, causing rust and all kinds of issues with the lubricated parts of the engine. You can purchase an enclosure or a slipcover that’s designed to fit on your specific generator model, and this enclosure can prevent some of the damage that the machine will endure during the cold months. Another thing that will help preserve the life of your generator is to place it in a dry location because oftentimes the generator will be left on a patio or another vulnerable location. Keeping your generator covered and away from the elements will ensure that the unit is operational for many years to come.

Minimize Strain On The Motor During Operation

The generator is an amazing thing, and it's something that will assist you during those times when there is a power outage. But, just because the generator is operational doesn’t mean that you can just throw a bunch of electronics onto it. Many new generator owners make the mistake of using low-grade extension cords on their generator, and what this does is cause the unit to pull more electricity from the engine. To avoid straining the engine of your new generator you’ll want to use thicker grade extension cords because they will pull less current at a more stable rate. You’ll also want to ensure that the generator has a fresh oil change after every season, and depending on how much you plan to use it you might want to change the spark plug often as well.

Start It Often And Fill The Tank

Like most power tools during the off-season, the generator will sit for months at a time with no usage, and this can cause the engine to decay and lose its battery charge. To ensure that your generator will always be ready in a time of need you’ll want to start the generator at least once every few weeks and let it run for thirty minutes. By doing this you’ll get the oil flowing through the unit and keep the battery charged up and ready for action, and you’ll also be able to tell if you are going to need a new battery or not. Another problem that new generator owners face is that they tend to run the gasoline completely out of the tank. You do not want to do this, what happens is that the strain on the generator will damage the magnetic field that generates the power and this could potentially knock your generator out permanently.

The Last Word

The portable generator has made emergency power outages a little less stressful for people, but the generator can also be a very expensive investment. Most new generator owners are not aware of how to maintain a generator, and the lifespan of the unit can be shortened dramatically which will only cost you more money in the long run. Ensuring the proper maintenance techniques will ensure that your generator is going to be pumping out electricity in times of need for years to come.

Sources— HuffPost, Family Handyman