Generator maintenance is probably far from your mind right now…
But it’s that dreaded time of year again, Floridians; hurricane season is quickly approaching!
We all know what usually follows – weeks (or sometimes months) of stressful preparation and massive post-storm inconveniences…the list goes on.
As we’ve discussed previously, a portable conventional generator will be the best option for 99% of homeowners in preparation for hurricane season. And while portable generators are very reliable, they will require regular maintenance in order to keep them running properly and safely.
Spend some time now checking out the best generator maintenance practices to ensure you’re completely ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store this season.
Generator Maintenance: General Maintenance
It’s important to note that your generator is basically a small internal combustion engine hooked up to an alternator and requires the same type of care as your car or lawn mower.
While this article won’t cover any specific make or model of generator, there are some maintenance practices that should be followed that are common to most generators.
If you’re looking to keep your generator running strong, there are a few tricks to keep it in tip-top shape.
First off, be sure to keep it in a nice, clean, and dry area where it won’t be exposed to dust, moisture, or anything else that could cause damage.
Plus, it’s important to keep those cooling air slots free and clear of any dirt, leaves, or other debris. But here’s the kicker- don’t clean it with a garden hose! Trust me, water getting into the fuel system or internal parts of the generator can cause some serious issues that’ll drastically decrease its lifespan.
If you want to keep your generator running smoothly, you’ll need to clean it regularly.
Here are three simple steps to get you started:
- First, use a soft-bristle brush or a vacuum cleaner to loosen and remove dirt and debris. This will help to keep your generator running efficiently.
- Next, clean the air vents with low-pressure air. Just make sure that the pressure doesn’t exceed 25 psi. If it’s too high, you could damage the generator.
- Finally, wipe the exterior surfaces of the generator with a damp cloth. This will help to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated over time.
Check and Clean the Air Filter
One important part of that is keeping the air filter clean. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove the air filter cover and set it to the side.
- Remove the filter element.
- If the filter is dirty, give it a wash with warm, soapy water. Rinse it and let it fully dry.
- Apply a light coat of engine lubricant to the element, then squeeze out the excess.
- Replace the filter element in the air filter unit.
- Replace the air filter cover, making sure it’s secure.
- Double-check that the filter is seated properly inside the generator. Installing it incorrectly could let dirt get into the engine, which would cause some serious wear and tear.
By keeping that air filter clean and well-maintained, you’ll be doing your part to ensure top-notch performance from your trusty generator.
Change the Engine Lubricant
One key aspect of generator maintenance is changing the engine lubricant, or an “oil change” as we call it.
In general, it’s recommended that lubricant be changed out every 100 hours or 6 months of operation, whichever comes first.
Here are the steps you should take to perform this simple but crucial task:
- Remove the oil fill cap and dipstick.
- Unscrew the oil drain plug and remove it.
- Let the lubricant drain completely into an approved container.
- Note: Make sure you drain the lubricant when the engine is still warm, but not hot. This will make the process quicker and more thorough.
- Do NOT change the engine lubricant if it’s hot. The last thing you want is to come into contact with hot lubricant, which can cause serious burns.
- Reinstall the oil drain plug and make sure it’s tightened securely.
- Refill with lubricant using the instructions in the owner’s manual for your generator. You can find the amount of lubricant needed in the engine manual if applicable.
- Replace the oil cap/dipstick and make sure it’s tight.
Remember to dispose the used lubricant at an approved disposal site. Visit your local retailer for more information.
Generator Maintenance: Check and Replace the Spark Plug
It’s also important to check and replace the spark plug every 6 months or 100 hours of operation. Here’s what you need to do:
- Locate the spark plug and remove it from the generator.
- Clean the area around the spark plug with a cloth, making sure no dirt or debris gets inside the engine when you remove it.
- Inspect the spark plug for signs of wear or damage. If it’s cracked, worn out, or covered in soot then it’s time to replace it.
- Install a new spark plug that follows the manufacturer’s recommendations for your generator model. Again, make sure to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual if applicable.
- Once installed, tighten the spark plug firmly with a socket wrench and you’re all set!
By regularly checking and replacing the spark plug, you can help ensure optimal performance from your generator – no matter what conditions come your way!
Generator Maintenance: The Spark Arrestor
What is a Spark Arrestor?
A spark arrestor is a device that is designed to limit the spread of sparks, which can result in fires. It works by preventing hot gases, embers, and particles from leaving an engine or machine and entering the atmosphere. Spark arrestors can be found on many types of combustion engines, including those used for generators.
It will look different depending on your generator model, but it’s usually on the back of the generator.
Spark arrestors are typically made with mesh screens or metallic baffles. The mesh screens are designed to stop any burning particles from escaping through the exhaust system while the baffles redirect them away from combustible materials like leaves or grass. They also help protect buildings and other structures from potential fire hazards created by burning particulate matter.
The spark arrestor must be regularly inspected and cleaned in order to ensure that it’s working properly. If it gets clogged with dirt or debris, then it won’t be able to do its job effectively.
This is why it’s important to check and clean the spark arrestor on your generator at least once every year or 50 hours of operation – whichever comes first. Doing so can help ensure that your generator runs safely and efficiently.
Check and Clean the Spark Arrestor
If your generator is equipped with a spark arrestor (most of them are), then it’s important to check and clean it on a regular basis. This will help to prevent any build-up of debris that could cause problems in the long run. Here are the steps you should take:
- Remove the spark arrestor from the exhaust and set it aside.
- Clean out any dirt, soot, or other debris inside the spark arrestor using a can of compressed air or an appropriate cleaning brush.
- Once cleaned, reattach the spark arrestor securely and make sure everything is tight once again.
- Check periodically for any signs of wear or damage on both the spark arrester and its mounting hardware – if it looks worn out, replace it.
By taking the time to clean and check the spark arrestor, you’ll be helping to ensure that your generator runs smoothly and efficiently.
Storage: Drain the Fuel Tank and Carburetor
It’s important to drain the fuel and carburetor before storing your generator away for an extended period of time. This will help to prevent any corrosion or buildup in the system which could cause problems down the line. Here’s what you need to do:
- Start by draining any remaining fuel from the tank and carburetor into a safe, approved container.
- Use a cloth or brush to clean out any leftover fuel residue inside the tank/carburetor.
- Once cleaned, add a few drops of engine oil into the spark plug hole and cranking mechanism (if applicable).
- Reconnect all of the hoses, lines, and other components on your generator – making sure they’re all firmly secured.
- Finally, store the generator in a dry, well-ventilated area away from any combustible materials like gasoline or oil.
By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your generator is safe and ready to start up when you need it most.
These are just a few tips to keep your generator running smoothly and efficiently.
Remember – preventive maintenance is key!
Regularly check and replace parts on your generator as needed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and storage, and always be sure to clean and inspect the generator before each use.
With proper care, your generator will serve you faithfully for years to come!