How often, and how long to run your generator for maintenance.

Run Your Generator Several Times a Year – Tips & Why

How often should you run your generator? And how long should you run it for maintenance? Read on for the answers, and maintenance tips…

Verify Your Portable Generator Works, BEFORE You Ever Need It!

Every once in a while it’s a good idea to run your generator!

I am updating this post with more maintenance tips, given the time of year as hurricane season gets going! (Though you should do this regardless!)

This is a reminder to do your due-diligence (I just did). Drag your portable generator out of the garage or wherever it is, and start it up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your generators!

Generator maintenance at a minimum, involves simply running your generator from time to time. Why?

  • To keep its internal parts lubricated with oil
  • Charge the battery (if it has a battery)
  • To be sure the carburetor isn’t gummed up
  • Put it under load to verify output
  • To make sure that the generator actually works (before you ever need it for an emergency)

(More maintenance tips below)

How Often To Run Your Generator

I try to run my generators every 3 months or thereabouts. Even better if you operate it once a month. Sometimes I forget, but if you run it at least several times a year, that’s better than nothing!

Seriously, You really should do this at least twice a year.

How Long To Run Your Generator

I let my portable generators run for about 20 minutes. Long enough for it to reach operating temperature. This is important. Don’t just run it for a few minutes…

Generator Maintenance Tips

Run it dry

When you’re just about done running the generator, shut off the fuel line and let it run dry until the generator stalls out. This will consume the fuel from the carburetor so it doesn’t sit there and potentially gum up over time. If you forget, this will likely become a problem for the generator not starting – after it gums up.

Gasoline is formulated to be optimum for only 1 – 3 months. After that, gasoline molecules react with each other and will eventually become sticky varnish that can clog fuel filters, fuel lines, and carburetor jets.

If you have a tank of gasoline (or jugs of gas) that have sitting around for many months, the gasoline may cause problems with the fuel delivery system. It might prevent proper operation of the engine. This is particularly true with portable generators because they often sit unused for quite some time.

Remember to shut off the fuel valve while the generator is still running, and let the generator run itself out from fuel starvation (which will probably take a minute or thereabouts). Since the fuel shutoff valve isolates the gas tank from the carburetor, once the generator uses up that remaining fuel, you will know that the delivery system and carburetor is cleared of all fuel — nothing left to gum up the works over time.

Fuel Additive (Stabilizer)

A way to increase fuel shelf life: Gasoline fuel stabilizer / additive. It will extend fuel life up to a year or more. This will also inhibit the fuel from gumming up inside the carburetor when it’s sitting idle in your generator. There are two commonly used fuel stabilizers, both of which work well.

Better, but more expensive:
PRI-G Fuel Stabilizer
(view on amzn)

Important related articles:
Fuel Treatment for Generators!
Sea Foam Motor Treatment

Use Ethanol-free gas!

When able to do so, use ethanol-free gasoline for your generator! Highly recommended. This will greatly help reduce chances of gumming up the works  (online search for stations near you). Say goodbye to old gas issues. I use ethanol-free gasoline for all of my small engines here at the homestead. This gas will “stay good” for a LOT longer. So, if you find a place near you that sells it, then that’s where you should fill your gas cans!

Check the oil before you start it.

This is a primary reason why people inadvertently destroy their generators! If you run the generator out of oil, it will destroy it! Some have auto-shut off’s if the oil gets low. However there are MANY generators that will not shut off when the oil runs low. Especially the lesser expensive models.

Run the generator under load, and check the outlets for power.

Check the generator outlets for power while it’s running. Don’t assume that there’s actually electricity at the outlets, in case something’s wrong. Plug in a decent load. A hair dryer? Whatever, just load it up and check the outlets.

Note: Disconnect the load prior to starting, and prior to stopping. Load only while running.

Periodic Running

A major problem with long term storage of a generator (besides the fuel deterioration) is corrosion of the engine and generator bearings when the lubricating oil becomes stagnant around the bearings.

As a preventative measure, run the generator every 90 days for the lubricating oil to get mixed up in there – and the bearing surfaces coated with oil.

Generator Battery

Does your generator have a battery for electric start? If you have a generator with a battery (electric start), by running it once in awhile you will keep the battery charged up!

It’s also a good idea to trickle charge that battery once in awhile. I’ve lost a battery because of this. Whoops.

Run the generator until it’s Hot

It is also a good idea to operate the generator engine at least until is reaches normal operating temperature. Water is created during the combustion process. When a generator is started and then shut down while the engine is still cold, the moisture remains in the cylinder and valve areas. This promotes corrosion. If the engine is warm when it is shut down, most of the moisture evaporates before the engine cools down.

[ Read: The right Extension Cord for your Generator ]

[ Read: Quick-Connect External Fuel Tank For Gasoline Fueled Generators ]

Extended Fuel Tank for Generator

The extended run generator fuel system allows you to supplement your generator’s factory fuel capacity with a stable vacuum powered fuel supply. Popular with the highly rated HONDA generators EU1000i, EU2000i, EU2200i.

HONDA Generator Extended Fuel Tank
(view on amzn)

Best selling Honda generator

 Honda 2200-Watt 120-Volt SUPER QUIET Portable Inverter Generator
(view on amzn)
 

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93 Comments

  1. after you run it out of fuel, put the choke on and give a pull, sometimes there is still enough fuel in the bowl to run a second or two on choke.

    1. I wait until the engine is just about ready to die. Then I pull the choke. This assures that ALL the fuel has been drawn out of the fuel bowl. Ironically, that little bit left in the fuel bowl if the choke isn’t pulled will gum up quicker than if the bowl were full. Some gennies, like my Yamaha 1Kw unit, don’t have separate on/off and choke functions. Your only recourse here is running it monthly, as there’s no way to run it dry.

    2. Another thing; unload the generator a few minutes before shutting it down to allow the generator windings time to cool. It also takes the load off the engine, allowing it some time to cool. If your genny throttles down with no load, unload the genny and let it idle a few before shutting it down. This avoids hot-soaking the engine. Hot-soaking is when the engine is shut off at running speed. The heat is still in the engine but there’s no air cooling going on. This causes oil to cook onto surfaces inside the engine. This contaminates the oil and also reduces the engine’s ability to offload heat when it’s running.

  2. The deadly enemy of any gasoline (petrol) powered machinery is old gas, especially if mixed with ethanol.

    There are a couple additional options a person has to keep their generator running long or longer, and making the maintenance process easier: 1) Rigging remote tanks to supplement or bypass the built in tank, and; 2) Remote feed of a special blend of gas/oil/additives to temporarily flush out the system.

    1. Bogan;
      Agreed 1000%,
      Do NOT use that corn fed gasoline crapo in your equipment. Spend a few extra pennies and buy NON-ethanol gas….

  3. Might add, if ok, to put a load on the Gen-Set, plug in a worm drive saw of some other heavy AMP device, and check all the outlets. AND if you have some 220V “something” plug that puppy in also.
    Many Gen-Sets, like those high $$$ ones Ken has, also have 12 volt connections, check them also.

    One last thing, only put about a quart od fuel in the unit, run it completely out, restart it as many times as needed as kevinH said above, remove the Fuel Cap and let the tank dry completely, the fuel in the tank ‘May, MAY’ turn if ya forget it for a year or two….. DO NOT ask me how I know HAHAHA

    1. In our climate in new england, I would suggest keeping the tank full,full,full…the tempature variations will cause condensation, which can cause rust in your tank.

    2. NRP
      Thanks for the information on letting the tank air out after running it dry. I would have left the cap on the unit, as is it brand new. Bought for last winter(2017), but never had the time to set it up for using it until this last November of course it was on a super cold day here. I thought I would have to put the oil in a pan an warm it up took FOREVER to fill the reserve!! lol

      1. Antique Collector;
        Ya know it’s cold when you need to warm the oil so it will flow into the Gen-Set… HAHAHA or should I say BURRRRRRR

  4. Our small portable generator, a coleman, is about 12 years old and just keeps on running. I start it up twice a year , my wife’s birthday and mine , so every 6 months . Finding non-ethanol gas is almost impossible in our area. I am so happy the corn lobby is alive and well ( sarc.) .

    1. Bluesman, I have the same generator I think. A Coleman 1850. Great little portable generator. Usually fires up on the first pull.

      Its a backup now to my solar generator the Kodiak if the Suns not shining… LOL

      1. My old coleman is a 2000 watt,2200 surge generator with wheels. It is a handy unit , I can run 2 fridges on it at a time .

        1. Bluesman, you got me on watts but mines 2 years older. LOL

          I can run 1 refrigerator and charge the solar generator though so I can have quite power at night.

          Had a power outage from a bad storm and a couple of neighbors heard my generator running that night. I was watching TV and had a light on and a small fan. I think I was the only one in the neighborhood with power. That’s why I bought a solar generator. It doesn’t attract attention or use fuel but its good to have both. 1 is none and 2 is 1.

          My next setup will be a Sol-Ark system.

          1. Defcon,
            My closest nieghbor is 1/4 mile away, noise isn’t a problem .I am planning on a propane freezer to make life easier without power, just a matter of $$$$$. Solar is something we are looking at also.

    2. I live in Illinois and yes the agriculture lobby is screwing us about as well as big pharma….

  5. Like everyone said, use the fuel shutoff and let it stall out so the fuel doesn’t clog the carburetor and siphon the tank dry.

    A Buddy gifted me a pressure washer and he forgot to do this and it wouldn’t start. I sprayed carburetor cleaner in the carburetor and it would start to run. Finally I took the carburetor apart and the float was like it was in concrete.

    If you haven’t started it for a long time, take the sparkplug out and squirt some engine oil in the sparkplug hole and reinstall the sparkplug.

  6. I switched from stabil to pri-g, pri_g is cheaper as it takes far less to to do same thing as stabil.

    I try, I really do to run them each for 45min every month.

    Doesn’t always happen but I know I can get all but 1 running with a little TLC.

    The one I cant, It has never been started in the around 9 years I have had it, It’s pretty and I don’t want to get it dirty.- 4,000w B&S

    So 6 working generators ranging from 1,600w to 5,000.

    The antique Milwaukee it smokes but runs.

  7. Forgot, I let them warm up for 2 to 3 minutes and put a load on them
    usually 100w to 500w shop lights.
    I run them for 45min to get the moisture out of the out from warmup.

  8. Another one of those “for what it’s worth” comments. My first generator, which I purchased from a pawn shop close to twenty years ago, refused to put out any current after sitting idle for a year or so. I read somewhere to plug a corded drill into one of the receptacles, then connect that drill nose to nose with a battery powered drill by attaching them together using a drill bit. Using the battery powered drill to spin the corded drill backwards to use the motor of the corded drill to generate a reverse charge into the generator’s circuit. I tried it and bingo, the generator began to work properly. Really don’t know the science behind it, but it worked. Maybe something to keep in mind if it ever happens to any of you.

    1. To prevent any confusion, the generator is not to be running when attempting this remedy.

    2. Dennis,
      For what it is worth, what you did was boost the magnetism in the core of the generator by passing a current through it. This gives it just enough to magnetism to generate electricity at start up, at which time the generator circuit feeds the coils and strengthens the magnetic forces in the core up to operating levels. When the generator sits for a long time, those magnetic forces in the cores degrade to the point where there is not enough “umph” to start the system working. good thing to know about though. I’ve picked up one or two generators that ‘didn’t work’ at a cheap price, and then “bumped” them with a little current and got them working.

      1. Minerjim,

        Makes sense to me. Just knew that it worked for me, and thought I’d pass it on. Thanks for the explanation.

      2. An old electrical engineer says ” Minerjim, your explanation is good to go”. The permenant magnets in a generator are not really permanent – just long term at best.

    3. Hair driers make good loads. You can adjust load from about 800W to 1800W. Definitely run the genny for about 20 minutes!

  9. All gas station gas is bad for small engines, not just ethanol. Ethanol attracts water, but the other stuff like olefines and benzenes cause more problems. Use engineered fuel like Moto mix when storing. I just learned this recently. Engineered fuels have mostly paraffins, which does no harm and can last for over two years once opened.

          1. …,.,.And they told us in the 70’s regular leaded gas was very bad for health reasons……
            Let’s take something ‘bad’ and make it worse.,…at the cost of the consumer

  10. A neighbor had a whole house generator that ran off natural gas. In past years when the power went out, you could hear that thing from a long distance around. The generator was set up for testing and you could hear it running occasionally as it was really loud. Well, the house was sold and the new tenants either stopped using the generator or sold it off as it was a really nice whole house system. Fast forward to this past weeks deep freeze. The entire area lost power for a couple of hours and all there was, was silence. I bet they were kicking themselves for not having or using the generator. Then again, I don’t associate with them as they are snowflakes. I am sure they were just sitting in their house as the temperature in the house was dropping by the minute waiting for uncle power company to come and save them when a generator that came with the house could have been used.

  11. I’m wondering how many went home after reading this article and did a test run on their Gen-Set?

    1. I have a reminder set on my phone for this very thing. Once a month I heat ’em up…

  12. I noticed that non-ethanol gas is a higher octane than 87, will that have any adverse effect on my engine?

  13. About 4 years ago I bought 2 of the EU2200i with the cables, propane conversion as well as the extra tank the will feed both at one time. The retail store that i bought them from would not let them leave the store without putting oil in them. That said, I took them to BL and put in container with very, very low humidity. I never put gas in them, never even ran them…. I know there is the risk of a bad unit from the factory, but i was in the mind set that the odds of a bad generator is a lot lower than the odds of the carburetor gumming up. What you guys think… I am kind of wincing, because in the back of my own head I know i have not tested them. Other than the oil sitting, they should be just as good as the day they were bought. Shouldn’t they?

    1. Idaho Spud;
      I also have a 8K combo Gas/Propane unit with oil in it since purchased.
      Like you I have not ran it at all, but have been thinking on doing so with Propane fuel to test it, the Propane will not gum up and will “burn off” completely.
      Thinking it would be better to get the oil ran through it, BUT, those units sit in warehouses for many years before being sold……

      Excellent question.

    2. Idaho Spud,

      Probably won’t have any problems other than the possibility of carb gaskets drying out, but would make a recommendation. Remove the spark plug, pour a couple of spoonfuls of motor oil into combustion chamber, let set a few minutes, crank motor over a few revolutions with spark plug still out, then replace spark plug. This will lubricate the cylinder walls, piston skirts and rings, preventing possible corrosion forming on internal metal surfaces while storing for long periods.

    3. Thanks NRP and Dennis. Just hearing your responses, takes a load off. Kept justifying with the two is one, and one is none as well. Should be able to make one work if the time comes. I haven’t put the propane kits on because the 1000 gal propane tank is a last resort and expensive to refill. I cycle gas twice a year in my storage to keep it fresh and only use pure gas. I do keep gas in another storage area way from electronics.

      1. Idaho Spud;
        My Propane unit can with the system already installed.
        Personally I don’t think I would be hooking my Gen to the 500G P-tank I have for the house, mainly because I don’t plan on running the Gen for longer than it would take to ‘Can’ up all the remaining food in the freezers if “Lights Out” permanently. That 500/1000 gallons would be to valuable for other things than ‘Power’.

        Speaking of Gen-Sets, How’s your stash on Extension Cords? Ken has a good article here on them.

        1. NPR
          I have secondary wiring on BOL house for gens already wired. Flip switch and deep freeze, outdoor furnace, well pump, and basement lighting are all good to go. Tested with old 1000W gen that i have in the camper (cant run everything at once). Last couple of years were spent splitting and stacking wood. 30 cords stacked and split now. If no power, I have the old wood stove inside but you can smell that a mile away burning. The out door furnace has almost no odor and only gives off tiny amount of smoke and water vapor and will also heat the hot water tank. After about 100 yards away you can no longer hear the generator for the sound of the creek. Lights out permanently is only one aspect of my preps. BOL is remote enough that power just is not reliable in the winter. After we retire (5-10 year), I’ll have everything ready for a prolonged outage. Solar and turbine power to follow in the coming years. The most likely SHTF is an avalanche closes the road and knocks out the power till end of winter. Three years ago, winter melt wash out the road and a power pole but that only lasted a week.
          Curious as to what else besides heating and cooking would you do with propane?

          1. Idaho Spud;

            Sounds like you have a very nice setup, sort of jealous to be honest.
            Just remember, Sometimes things change and life kicks ya in the ‘never-minds’. But that’s a different story.

            Your pre-wiring for the Gen-Set is good; hopefully it’s a lockout switch to remove from the Grid, than energize the house.

            Tis interesting to hear what others are doing, like yourself preparing for the future by building now, do you know how many millions don’t even have a clue? Will be a very bad in Paradise if/when that’s for sure.

            Propane, for me would be a ‘backup’ for cooking and heat, I don’t pretend to kid myself that one could survive 100% on Wood or stored fuel for the ol Coleman for an extreme extended time. Same way with heat, sure Wood Stoves are great, till someone knocks or kicks the door in.

            Another option I have looked at is a Propane Freezer, not the best way to keep food if ‘Lights Out’ but sure would be nice for a glass of ‘Iced’ Tea.

            One thing to remember, no matter how much Gas/Propane/so-on you store up, it will run out someday, unless it “renewable” aka wood, solar, wind. Even those 30 cords of firewood would need to be replaced sooner or later. And gas powders chain-saws are good for awhile….

            You do have a HUGE advantage over most here, Age, I know that sounds foolish, but honestly my friend, once ya got to my age ya start wondering is all this crapo worth it, or should I just become a leach like a LOT of people?

            But I regress; I’m not built that way, nor are most here on this site/BLOG. That’s why we are here, to share and converse on “stuff”.

            So here is a question for you…. How long of “Lights Out” are you planning for? A year, 2 years, 5 years? Do you have the skill set to, as I say “Live the Lifestyle” and go completely back to the 1800’s if you had to?

            I will guarantee you it’s difficult and sad to imagine, yet it seems the country is so close to self-destructing along with society or a hundred other things that could crash down on our heads.

            PS; thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts.

          2. Dennis;
            Ohhh don’t give me that, you’re like 35 or something…….

          3. Hi Idaho Spud

            Helped DFM put a propane-fired on-demand hot water heater in their off-grid cabin a few months ago. Works a treat. Cost about $240 at the big orange box store.

          4. NRP,

            In my mind I’m 18 and running around a football field hurtin’ people, in reality I’m 69 running my mouth and stumblin’ around hurtin’.

          5. Dennis;
            My saying:
            I’m 65, feel like 95, think like 45, act like 25, and a libido of a 15…
            HAHAHA, Yeah right on that last part.
            Wondering if that’s “off topic”? Hummmmmm

          6. NRP
            The switch does break grid before locking on backup on sub panel to “critical” circuits.
            To answer your question “How long of Lights Out” Well, I look at the problem from the most likely and prep for practicality first, then move onto the next most likely and so on. So most likely in my mind is power out overnight in a winter outage. Made sure that the house in BOL has 6 inch walls and very well insulated, don’t think I would even notice. A month or two in winter, I’d still be eating popcorn off the fire place, and catching up on some good reading. A localized multiyear outage has so many options like move out of effected area or use it as a test for a forever event. If a total forever EMP/Flare, we wouldn’t be comfortable or safe yet but believe me, I plan on getting there. I don’t plan on many people so security is a big concern. I’ve got an old backhoe that will still be running so I’ll be able to take out the road miles away at a couple of choke points. So, could I go lights out forever, I think so, just don’t want to have to find out. “Do I have the skill set?” A lot of it but still feel I have a lot to learn. The desire to live “the life style”, no way, but I could and would. I love the prepping life style, always trying to better position yourself and family for whatever life flings at you. Longest, I have gone without power was two weeks last spring. Days were spent planting and hand turning the soil. Cutting back raspberries, chopping word from trees that the winter toppled. Guess it wasn’t totally without power because I set up a single panel solar electric fence for the garden to keep deer and elk out. The forever deal, knowing that I couldn’t replace anything, forces me to keep stacking, learning, and working to keep a good life.

          7. Idaho Spud;
            Thanks for the honest reply.
            Sounds to me like you have “made it”, you are very well set, admittedly a lot more than I.
            I do realize I have a lot of holes to fill, yet am working on them seemingly everyday. Seems like the more we all do, the more needs to be done.

          8. Some get overwhelmed, but I enjoy it. The more I do the better I feel. Still want/need a good solar system. Generators are short term in my mind. Another little off topic here, How long will you wait to pull out your generators or other protected electronics after a forever event? Do you think there will be a second event days, weeks or months after?

          9. Idaho Spud;
            Actually that’s a good question, and really fits in right here.
            There is always the “What/If” an EMP hits right as your “testing, or Running” your Gen-Set or the 60 minutes thereabouts.
            An CME would be more predictable and longer in duration… An EMP, I’m guessing that any Country that EMPed the US would be totally toast within a day or two after we got hit.
            So to answer your question, A CME even I would wait a week or more, maybe run it in the Faraday Cage and run cords to the Freezers and “HOPE” it don’t get fried, but in reality the Freezer would probably be toast anyways. AN EMP, a few days, but again the freezers would be toast and worthless anyways, along with 99% of everything not in a Faraday Cage.
            BUT, there are a LOYT of other reasons to have a Gen-Set, just do a little reading on how fragile the Grid really is, Not everything needs to be centered around an EMP or CME. How abut an Ice-storm that knocks out the grid for 3-4 weeks?

            Anyways, back on subject, YES it’s good to have and test that Generator often, would be a shame to lose a LOT of frozen foods OR freeze to death in the back-country because the Gen was ‘bad’.

          10. Freeze to death in the back country cause the generator won’t run………hahahahaha. If it’s small enough to have recoil start you will stay warm if you pull on the rope and cuss enough.

            Idaho spud has got it figured out. I, for one, am impressed that you have 30 cords of wood cut. That’s quite an accomplishment.

          11. NRP, Idaho Spud,

            Your conversation brings up something I’ve pondered. You’ve stored up x-amount of fuel for your generator and you also have an older EMP proof/resistant vehicle. Catastrophic grid failure hits. A decision will have to be made. What will be more important to keep running using your finite fuel inventory, generating electricity or having transportation?

    4. My opinion; ALWAYS be sure you’re at least STARTING with something that works. If you want to dry store after that, you’ll be doing so knowing that the thing DID WORK when you put it away. Plus, as you alluded to, if one or the other doesn’t work, you can exchange it under warranty. The upside of your propane conversion is that you don’t need to drain the carb or the tank before putting the units into deep sleep…

  14. Anony Mee:
    The hot water is a propane heater. I then added a hot water sleeve from the bottom drain valve and looped it back to the intake. Hot water from the out door furnace runs through the sleeve then back out to furnace. Have control values that also split the hot water into a radiator in the central air unit. Haven’t used the propane heater sense I got the outdoor furnace. Use propane for hot water only in the summer. When the propane runs out, think about adding a water loop that can be heated with a small fire. Had a 25 gal drum with just a loop of 3/4 copper tubing from the bottom out to a coil about 6 inch in diameter then back up to about 2/3 th the height of the drum and back in. I would build a small fire in the coil. Always had hot water for dishes and sponge baths on hunting trips.

  15. Just a cautionary note on power needs of an outdoor water heater. Circulation must be maintained at all times. A power damper must be in place to regulate furnace temperatures – some also have a fan to ensure temperature regulation and complete combustion. So, a generator or solar system should provide 24/7 power to this system.
    The other consideration about hot water from a furnace, stove, or on-demand system is the water source. If the outdoor furnace is an open system (to the air anywhere), the water will continue to take in oxygen which will eventually rust out all metal fillings and pumps. Many advocate a closed system with antifreeze and many relief valves – this way when the oxygen is cooked out of the water, no further rusting should occur. The other water concern is the build up of deposits in smaller diameter piping from well water – minerals, particularly in-stove piping and on-demand systems where there is a continual supply of well water.
    Don’t ask me how I know. ooooppps :)

    1. anyone interested in heating water should look on-line at images of “loofa” systems. Years ago, I think it was Mother Earth had a loofa design that used plastic piping imbedded in a large container of sand, where water was heated in a stove and run through the sand as a storage medium. Yes, I built one and within a year the coils in the stove were plugged from fresh well water.

      1. Hermit Us,
        Very cool on your sand bed heater. I have thought about one of those over the years. Did you use PVC or PEX plastic?? Did you try to flush it with an acid solution (like vinegar) to dissolve the deposits? think I would try and use a large diameter tubing, like 3/4″ or 1″, slower water velocity through to pick up heat, and less chance of fouling. When it was working were you pleased with the results?

        1. Minerjim
          I was young and ignorant. The problem was not with the sand heat retention system but with the 3/4″ copper tubing in the wood burning stove – it plugged and then collapsed in places – not recoverable. If it was a closed system with no fresh well water passing through, It may have worked better. The domestic hot water coil went first – more fresh water. Idaho Spud has taken precautions to reduce this problem.

    2. hermit us:
      Totally agree with you. I have an open system, use only rain water for its softness to fill and use food grade polypropylene glycol mixed in which acts as both rust inhibitor and anti-freeze. I do need power to keep it running, there are electronic inside to regulate the 2 fans and air dampers. I keep a backup pump, and the two control units in storage. Just made me think about the fans… Thanks you. I have an older Portage and Main boiler which has another nice feature. I am able to use it as a small forge furnace to melt all kinds of metals, easiest being lead. Wonder if i could make a coffee cup in there?

    1. I just ran mine. In fact I had a near full tank of gas (ethanol free) left over from end of last year in my big generator, so I siphoned it out to use with the lawn mowers.

  16. I do monthly test runs at 1/2 load for 15minutes. I schedule it in my phone so I’ll remember

  17. Haven’t seen it discussed, so I’ll throw it out there for feedback and advice from anyone who might have experience with them.

    Been looking at three point hitch PTO generators for my tractor (I already have two portable gas gens one 13.5kw and a 4kw I’m happy with and seve my needs). My thoughts are, my tractor, a 67 model Ford 4000 diesel 50 hp is EMP proof, has high/low rpm power take off, meaning I could run the generator with the tractor engine at an idle (500-800 rpm). Tractor is very quiet (especially compared to my gas portables).

    Harbor Freight offers a 15kw for $1500. Has a 50 amp, 30, amp, and a couple 20 amp plugs.

    Am in the thinking stage now. Any input appreciated.

    1. Oldhomesteader,

      I would probably be a buyer, but 1500 miles+ one way and shipping would be prohibitive. I’m sure your unit is much higher quality than Harbor Freight’s. Just brainstorming right now. Thanks for the response. At an idle, my tractor would probably go 10+ hours on five gallons diesel. It’s frugal on fuel. I bush hog 6 hours on 5 gal a little above half throttle.

  18. I trashed the ignition coil on a generator by plugging in a cord with reverse polarity. Had to buy a new coil.

  19. glad i read this, i went out and got my 15+ year old coleman powermate out which had not been started in last 2 years. put some gas in it and got it running. good comments on keeping the generators up and going.

  20. Until now I have been setting things up where we could live comfortably without power. DW was put on oxygen last week so our reliance on electricity has jumped to the top of the priority list. We do have a generator and I start it and let it run for 30 min. 2 or 3 times a year. I keep a minimum of 10 gal of gas all the time. I will be increasing the gas I keep on hand. I also need to look into alternative power. I have seen many good articles on the subject on here but they all seem so expensive.

  21. car guy, solar power is modular. I too had to provide CPAP and O2 machine backups.

    A basic set up is not that expensive.

    Would you like information on how to set it up? I could send you suggestions to webpages as it’s not rocket science. Solar is modular, almost plug and play.

    I could give you a basic set up description that covered my Mothers O2 Machine in NH if you like. Please don’t go cheap on the inverter as medical equipment really needs Sine Wave inverters.

  22. DON’T run “fuel system cleaner” through your generator! This stuff will RUIN its carburetor! The only thing this stuff cleans out is your WALLET!

    DO run the genny with a load when testing; preferably one close to the rating of the genny. The generating component can fail while the engine will still run beautifully! I use a shop-vac or a hair drier for a load. Hair driers are great. You can adjust the amount of heat to more or less match your genny’s rating.

    DO put the generator where it’s easy to get at. The easier it is to access, the less likely you’ll be to “get lay” and not run the thing.

    I run mine long enough to heat it up and drop the fuel level a bit in the tank. Then I replenish with fresh gas.

  23. if you live in the Frozen North and have a permanently installed genset sitting outside along the house >>> do some winter prepping on it for any extreme low temp conditions – that regular monthly maintenance auto start might not be enough ….

    chek that battery – attach a trickle charger for the winter …. be ready to pre-heat that engine – magnetic electric block heaters or a portable propane heater … if nothing else have a sheet of plywood to block the wind and snow from hitting the unit directly – windchill makes a difference ….

    1. Generators with a battery:

      The battery will most likely be a lead-acid battery. The thing to remember is this:

      Once a lead acid battery is allowed to go completely ‘dead’ or drained of energy, the plates inside RAPIDLY build up sulfate crystals. This will ruin the battery to the extent that charging it further won’t help it.

      Sulfation is a buildup of lead sulfate crystals and is the number one cause of early battery failure in lead-acid batteries.

      So, knowing that, this should be motivation NOT to let your battery go dead. If it’s just sitting there for a long period of time without adequate recharge, it’s going to drain.
      Instead, use a trickle charger once in a while to keep it topped off. There’s more to battery maintenance, but I’ll leave it at that for now – being the most important.

      I use the Battery Tender Plus trickle charger.

  24. When I test my generator, do I have to power something connected on the transfer switch? Switch has 6 switches with position of gen, line, or off. What position should 6 switches be in if I just want to run generator for few minutes without powering anything?

  25. I have a Champion gas only generator that I added a motor snorkel to, to make it tri fuel. I had a natural gas line put in so I don’t have to store gas. I guess gunking up the carburetor would not be an issue for me. Most of your advise is for gas generators, do you have maintenance recommendations for tri-fuel generator owners?

  26. Question for diesel generator owners: What do you do differently from above? I’m thinking Diesel Service or some other fuel preserver. Would not run a diesel dry like a gasoline genset, obviously. I think running a can of Diesel Purge through it once a year to keep the injector system clean
    Anything else? I’m building a small 2500 watt genset around a 5 hp Petter AB1 diesel engine.(thanks for the suggestion OH!) Still looking into how to add automatic control to it to account for changing loads. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Minerjim:
      I use PRI-D for the preservatives in all my Diesel Fuel. It’s what i run in the D-Genset also.
      Also once a year I mix a batch of Lucas Oil Products, “Diesel Deep Clean”, about a quarter tank full and let her run out, I do keep it filled after the cleaning.
      Other than that pretty much as above.
      Fire it up once every 3 months and good to go.

  27. Just converted my generator to propane, kit was $200. Plan to buy 3 more 20lbs tanks, much easier to store than gas and last forever. Next need to build EMP cage for it. I live in hurricane exposed south Florida.

  28. This is just my opinion so it may be wrong.I was looking at generators in the Northern Tool catalog.The propane units were by
    Generac and the listed run times on a 20lb.tank were very low.
    It seems that a gasoline generator with a good supply of properly treated fuel(PRI-G) would be a better choice,especially for a
    long power outage if you have several freezers or medical equipment.

  29. Was recently given a generac 6500exl with electric start.(no wheel kit) 200 pounds.
    Was much fun cleaning it up.
    It was bought for y2k and used like 2 times, sat idle long enough when owner tried it again it wouldn’t start and sat unused for over 19 years.

    I’d post picture if I could, so dirty you could grab hand fulls of dirt, cobwebs and horse poop dust off it.
    Had cleaned it, got it running and did have to replace the carburetor- needle valve was shot.
    OEM needle valve cost 2$ less than entire china carburetor. new carb $26.
    It runs wonderfully, idles down when no load is present, my first with electric start.

    I start all mine, run 30 to 40 minutes with load about every other month, change the oil once a year if they need it or not, added fuel filters to them all with sta-bil in the fuel. I keep the gen tanks near full always.
    Have: 5kw, 6500kw, 3500kw , 1.2kw.
    Fuel storage is a problem, only have about 50 gallons extra aside of what’s in the vehicles.
    Also have 5 extra cans of carb cleaner, 4 cans of starting fluid and 2 gallons of winter and summer oil- different viscosity 5w30 and 10w30 and my car oil for the coming iceage.. 0w30

  30. I have found so many generators with fuel related problems at yard sales, I made it a side income. Most only used once, then left with old fuel in them.
    I would buy them, get them working, store them. And when the next storm came along, and the last minute panic came along. And the generators where sold out, I would put out a sign on the corner, and sell out with in an hour.
    The last tropical storm, which was nothing, I sold my inventory.
    In reviewing what I spent, time and materials, profit is around 90 dollars an hour.
    Just food for thought, when your walking buy that generator that doesn’t run at a yard sale.
    I turned that cash into a whole house generator, that runs on propane.
    Because I live in Florida, and we refer to our power company, (Florida Flash and Flicker)

    1. And being the lightning capital of the nation, I’m sure your Florida power company has their share of ‘flicker’ problems (grin).

  31. I run a generator for 9 years on the same fuel without problems. It was ethanol free.
    In the Netherlands we on have e5 (5%) as minimum or e10.

    Running dry the carorateur is what I always have done. Generator starts with 2 pulls on the cord.

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