Generator Maintenance: How to Care For Your Generator

So you’ve made the first step in assuring your home will maintain power and peace of mind in any power outage. You’ve learned the ins and outs of your generator and its usefulness. Now you need to become familiar with your generator’s general maintenance in order to keep it running and healthy for the years to come. 

No matter how unnecessary maintenance may seem, a poorly maintained generator will not function properly. It is common for most people to buy a generator and let it sit until it is needed. If your generator is not properly maintained, it may not be functioning properly when needed. This is what makes it so important to design your own generator maintenance plan. Doing this can expand the life of your generator from 2-3 years to 2-3 decades. You bought your generator to keep your home safe and comfortable during severe weather and power outages and we want to help you get the most out of your generator. 

The best way to guarantee your generator stays functional for many years to come is to develop a generator maintenance plan. Generally, maintenance schedules are provided with the purchase of a generator. Make sure to read your maintenance schedule closely and follow any advice given. With that in mind, it is entirely up to you how that plan works into your schedule. Your generator maintenance plan should include the following: running your generator weekly, checking the air intake and exhaust systems as well as the starting system, and checking for loose connections and frayed wires. If anything seems off during your regular maintenance then you should call your dealer or a specialized technician to service your generator. 

Run your generator every week

A few minutes a week is all it takes to keep your generator running happy and healthy. It’s recommended that you run your generator at load (full capacity) for about 15-10 minutes at your scheduled time every week. Running your generator weekly allows the lubricating oil to heat up to operating temperatures and allows it to circulate throughout the engine. Doing this every week keeps your generator strong. 

After running your generator, make sure that the unit ran without issue. Check that there were no significant leaks, warnings, or alarms. Also, be sure to check fueling levels for any low indications. Set your generator to “auto” to be certain that your generator will start in case of a power failure. Lastly, check to see that the circuit breaker is shut. If all the boxes are ticked, then you can be sure that your generator is healthy and ready to power up at any moment.

Check the oil and coolant levels

Every month, you should check your engine’s oil and engine coolant levels. Both of these fluids are essential to the function and performance of your generator. It is common that generators have a low-oil shutdown feature to prevent damage to the engine. If your generator becomes low on coolant then it will malfunction and the engine will overheat. If your generator is malfunctioning, it is imperative that you check these levels first. 

  • How to check the coolant and oil levels – Checking your generator’s oil level and engine coolant level is relatively easy. To check the coolant level, look at the level in the catch tank inside the engine. If your coolant level is low, add a little extra coolant. In order to check the engine oil level, you must first locate the dipstick (typically has a yellow ring top), then remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. Replace the dipstick after wiping it. Remove the dipstick again and see how high the oil reaches on the dipstick. This will show you the amount of oil in your generator’s engine. Make sure not to check the oil level immediately after running the engine; wait at least 10 minutes before checking.

Generator maintenance by a technician

Your generator should be regularly checked every 6 months by a professional technician. Even after performing well with your own maintenance plan, it is best to keep your engine in tip-top shape by allowing a professional to do a routine check. Think of it as taking your car to a mechanic for an inspection. There is some basic maintenance you can do for your engine, but the rest can only be done by someone with experience. Here at Miller’s, we are more than happy to help maintain your engine. With our qualified technicians and knowledge, we can help you on the road to prolonging the life of your generator. 

Miscellaneous generator tasks

Another thing to factor into your maintenance plan is the climate that you live in and the weather that is common in your area. Additional tasks may be necessary if your generator is placed in a more wooded area. If this is the case with your generator, it may be wise to take the time to clear away any growth. This includes vines, leaves, and other foliage. In the winter you may need to clear any snow from your generator. In an enclosed environment, make sure to check for rodents. All of these things will interfere with the functioning of your engine.

Though the list of tasks to complete in order to ensure the longevity of your generator seem overwhelming, the benefits of having a working generator are numerous. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your house will always have power is well worth the effort. 

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