Essential Tips to Lengthen Your Generator’s Shelf Life

Lengthen Your Generator’s Shelf Life

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Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by John Patterson

Power outages are a dreadful occurrence. They can render both our devices and our livelihood useless. Luckily, this is where generators come in to save the day.

However, for the generators to continue to provide uninterrupted services for years to come, regular maintenance is essential.

A well-maintained generator will serve you faithfully in times of need. Keep in mind that maintenance begins from the time you first purchase the generator. After all, if your neglected generator stops working, it’s already too late. So, read on to find out how to care for your generator…

Tips to Lengthen Your Generator’s Shelf Life

Before we start guiding you, let’s know a few essential things about the generator.

Types of Generators

There are three main types of generators available – portable, standby, and inverter generators. Each has the perks that make them ideal for use in homes and businesses, but the overall maintenance procedure is the same for all of them.

Invest in a Good Generator

The key to any item’s longevity lies in its quality. A good quality product will surely save you in tough situations. At first glance, it seems feasible to invest in a cheaper generator since you may only use it once in a while.

However, you’ll often be paying more in the long run. Cheaper generators run through fuel faster and won’t be able to run multiple appliances at once. They’ll likely also require more regular maintenance.

Another option is to parallel or synchronize your generators. This way, you can get more power without straining any of your generators. What’s more, if one generator breaks down, another can keep functioning without any interruption. 

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Check and Change the Oil

This may seem trivial but it will make a huge difference in terms of the lifespan of your generator. A general rule of thumb is to change the oil after 20 hours of its first use and then every 100 hours of use thereafter.

Make sure that you stock up on oil and filters for emergencies and change them regularly. The last thing you want is to run out of fuel when you need it most.

Avoid Using the Fuel to its Last Dregs

Many people are unaware that running a generator until the fuel is used up is very damaging. This is because when the fuel runs out, the engine stops while the generator still puts out power which can damage the coils. As a result, revving the engine doesn’t work when you restart the generator.

To avoid this issue, always check your oil levels after using the generator and power it down when your fuel levels are low. Additionally, you should unplug any appliances connected to your generator before powering it down to protect them from possible damage.

Take a Break

Machines need downtime to cool off and generators are no different. They pose a significant fire hazard if gasoline is poured into a still-hot generator. The hot generator will burn when it comes into contact with the gasoline which can reach the gas tank you’re holding.

So, to protect your generator as well as yourself, let it cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes after using it. You can do this by uncapping the radiator and adding coolant if necessary. Keep the radiator free from any obstruction using a soft brush or reverse flow of water or steam.

Don’t Use Stale Gasoline

The worst thing that you can do to your generator is to use stale gasoline which damages the device. So, remember to empty your gas tank after bad weather or a trip.

For generators that are used less often, you can save fuel costs by adding stabilizers to the gasoline to make it last longer.

Never Backfeed Power

Never attempt to plug the generator into electrical sockets to back-feed power to your house. Not only will you burn your generator but also potentially kill a utility worker.

Back feeding is extremely dangerous no matter how many articles claim that there’s a safe method. Instead, use a transfer switch to connect the generator to your house grid.

Use Heavy-Duty Extension Cords

Portable generators usually require your appliances to be connected to them via extension cords. But you have to pay attention to the length and type of extension cords – heavy-duty extension cords that are at most 100 feet long and 12 gauge thick are ideal.

This is because a large voltage drop can occur between your devices and generator if longer and thinner cords are used.

Remember to regularly check the cords for any nicks and tears and have them replaced to avoid the risk of electrocution.

Are You Overworking Your Generator?

Rated wattage means the amount of electrical power that your generator continuously puts out. Running your generator at or below the rated wattage will help your generator work smoothly.

But if you go overboard (surge wattage), the generator will turn off automatically. However, some generators keep running at this voltage and the motors slowly heat up which can burn sensitive parts.

Keep Your Diesel Generator Clean

A generator that’s frequently used requires more care than one that’s not. A clean generator will let you identify issues like oil drips instantly so you can fix them accordingly. You should regularly inspect the condition of hoses and belts and prevent any pests from turning your generator into a nest.

Such simple regular check-ups and cleaning will help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

Exhaust System Inspection

Remember to inspect the welds and gaskets (junctions) in the exhaust line for leaks and have them repaired immediately by a professional.

Check Your Air Filter

Changing the air filter is just as important as changing the oil, preferably at the same frequency.

If your air filters are blocked, the generators will be damaged. This is especially true for smoggy areas where you have to change the filters even more frequently.

In Conclusion

Always have your units serviced at least 24 hours before using the generator and increase the hours of maintenance if it’s used more often.

It’s also good practice to ‘exercise’ your generator for 30 minutes under load every week to keep the battery charged, ensure lubrication, and remove excess moisture.

Furthermore, record all readings and parameters with the date of inspection and hour meter reading for each maintenance session. This will help you compare the state of the generator and identify any issues early on.

Generator maintenance is not a difficult task nor does it need any expertise. It only involves routine checkups, cleaning, and exercising caution. Simple tasks like these go a long way to ensure the longevity of your generator for years to come.

About the author

John Patterson

Hi there! My name is John Patterson. I’m a meticulous guy who loves to deal with the perfect tools for various needs. No matter if it’s a woodworking tool or gardening tool or anything else, I don’t compromise the quality and usability. Since 2010 I’ve been testing different tools for different DIY and professional tasks. Later in 2015, I decided to share my knowledge with the world. I started by answering people in the forums and several Q/A sites like Quora. Then I founded this blog to aid others like you with my knowledge and experience.