Do you have a generator? You probably do. It’s one of the most common preparedness items. They do a great job for short-term power outage emergencies. Many people own one.
However many of these same people ignore (or don’t know about) generator maintenance. It’s crucial. Be assured that during the next power outage, your generator will be ready to run. Imagine firing up your generator in the middle of a wintery snow storm (or the aftermath of any grid-down situation) only to discover it doesn’t start?!
Here are some important generator maintenance considerations:
Run The Fuel Dry When Done
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.
So consider this… If you have a tank of gasoline that has not been used in a reasonable length of time (e.g. months), the gasoline may likely 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.
Shut off the fuel valve
One solution to this problem is this: 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). 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 solution 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.
Most Popular Fuel Additive
Another popular fuel additive is Sea Foam.
> Here’s an article about what people are using it for
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. This gas will store better / longer. I use it exclusively for ALL of my small engines around the homestead.
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.
Every 90 Days
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.
Run it 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.
Does your generator have a battery?
Additionally, if you have a generator with a battery (electric start), by running it once in awhile you will keep the battery charged up!
Put a load on it
Also, put a load on the generator! Make sure it’s actually working (making electricity!).
Note: Disconnect the load prior to starting, and prior to stopping. Load only while running.
Check The Oil Level
Some generators are designed to automatically shut off if the oil level runs low. However there are MANY generators that will not shut off when the oil runs low.
If the oil runs out, you will destroy your generator engine.
This is easily prevented by habitually checking the oil level! Simple – but many people don’t think of it…