How Much TLC Does Your Generator Need?

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An 11 Step Checklist on How and When to Service Your Generator

Many people truly pay attention to their generators on two occasions; the day they buy it and the day they need it in an emergency. Other generator owners use their generator frequently, but only think about replacing parts and routine service when there are signs (or sounds) of trouble.

This is to be expected when there are so many other systems and priorities in your life to worry about when owning a home, running a business, or raising a family.

However, you don’t want to find out the hard way that your generator isn’t working due to a lack of routine inspection and maintenance.

Servicing your generator to ensure optimal performance is relatively inexpensive and straightforward. A good visual inspection is recommended every time you use your generator, and certainly monthly if your generator sits idly by waiting to be called into action.

Here is an easy checklist that will keep your generator in good working order. (Note that this is a general, high-level checklist. For best results, refer to the owner’s manual of your generator’s specific brand and model.)

  1. Clean your generator: All generators should be cleaned and checked annually for leaks.
  2. Oil checks and changes: Check the oil level when the unit isn’t running. If the generator has been running, shut it down and wait 10 minutes. During this time the engine oil should retreat back into the sump. After 10 minutes, check it again for a more accurate reading.  Maintain the oil level as close to the full mark as possible without overfilling. Oil should be changed after every 50-60 hours of use.
  3. Oil filter: Change the oil filter whenever you change the oil. It’s easy to remember this way and it will help the new oil flow freely through the generator’s engine.
  4. Air filter: Air filters should be cleaned annually. A dirty air filter will not draw enough clean air to run the generator properly.
  5. Spark plugs: Spark plugs should be replaced about every 100 hours of use. Check the spark plugs during oil changes in the event they become cracked or worn between their annual replacement dates.
  6. Battery: Battery power level should be checked as well as the battery’s general status. Look for any corrosion visible on the battery or its connections.
  7. Coolant: Make sure there is adequate coolant by checking the level in the catch tank (overflow tank).
  8. Alternator and Transfer Switch: These are two often-overlooked items on annual generator inspections and service. Be sure to add them to your checklist with the more common items of oil, air flow, and spark plugs.
  9. Diesel units:  For diesel units, check the fuel level and the fuel/water separators. Add fuel and drain water from the separators as necessary. For gaseous units, inspect the fuel-supply piping for leaks or obvious damage.
  10. Owner’s manual guidance: There may be manufacturer specific generator maintenance instructions, as well. Refer to your owner’s manual to be sure you’re covering all the bases.
  11. Environmental considerations: The generator’s environment also plays a role: The more severe the environment (dusty, extremely hot or cold, highly humid, etc.), the more frequent the need for service may be.

What kind of lifespan can I expect from my generator?

  • The average life expectancy of a well-maintained service generator is approximately 5000 hours (assuming 300,000 miles at 60 mph).
  • A typical standby generator set can last from 10,000 to 30,000 hours.
  • A standby generator might operate as little as 26 hours a year (based on only 30 minutes of weekly exercise and no outages) or as much as several hundred hours a year, depending upon the number and duration of power outages.
  • In either case, a standby generator set could conceivably last 20 to 30 years.
  • That longevity, of course, is contingent on good monthly and annual maintenance.

If you have any questions about your generator’s maintenance or what kind of generator might work best for your home or business, call On Time Electrical today! Our knowledgeable professionals are available 24/7 at (704) 675-7400.

Contact us or check out our weekly and monthly specials, plus we waive the service call fee on ANY repair!

With our A+ Better Business Bureau rating, we guarantee courteous, reliable, and trustworthy customer service each and every time! Locally owned and operated, we’re On Time Electrical. It’s electric!