According to the U.S. Energy Administration, each household experiences blackouts for about eight hours a year. Backup generators are essential for providing power during emergencies such as natural disasters, power outages, and other unexpected events.
Installing a generator can give homeowners peace of mind knowing they will have access to power when they need it. However, there are some common mistakes homeowners can make when using generators. Improper installation or maintenance can lead to serious safety risks and costly repairs.
Knowing the potential dangers associated with backup generators is essential for anyone considering buying one. Doing your research and understanding the possible mistakes to avoid ensures your home is as safe as possible during an emergency or power outage.
Neglecting Regular Maintenance
Neglecting regular maintenance of a backup generator can be a costly mistake. Without proper upkeep, the device could break down when needed. Therefore, routine care is key to making sure the system is in top working condition and ready to go when needed. Maintenance should include the following:
- Checking the oil and filters.
- Inspecting the exhaust system for leaks and blockages.
- Regularly testing the appliance to ensure it works as required.
It is also important to keep the device clean and free of debris, as dirt and debris can affect its performance. By following these steps, Dillon, SC, homeowners can be at peace knowing the machine will always be ready to provide power when needed.
Incorrectly Turning On and Off
There are a few basic steps to follow when powering on and off to ensure the safe operation of a generator. Before turning on your backup generator, you should plug in any extension cords that will be used to power the appliance. Then, attach any necessary loads to the extension cord, such as lights, appliances, and other electrical devices.
Once all the cords and loads are in place, turn on the device. To safely turn off the machine, start by unplugging the loads from the extension cord and then the extension cord from the unit. This will help to ensure that the backup generator is properly turned off and all electrical connections are safely disconnected.
Running a Generator in an Enclosed Space
Generators produce toxic carbon monoxide gas as part of their normal operation. This gas is invisible and odorless, so it isn’t easy to detect. Since it is deadly in higher doses, it is important to keep backup generators away from the house and never run them in a garage or anywhere near your residence.
When using a generator outdoors, it is best to run it in a dry environment and keep it away from open doors and windows. This will help to prevent CO buildup in the immediate area. It is advisable to keep the machine at least 25 feet away from your house and other living areas, such as a patio or deck. Following these safety precautions keeps your family safe when using a backup generator.
Using Wrong Extension Cords
Generators are powerful machines that produce electricity, and it is important to use them safely. For this reason, using an outdoor grounded extension cord with GFCI functionality is essential when operating a generator. This cord is designed to detect dangerous electrical current flow and shut off the power if it detects any.
Without this device, electricity could flow to areas it should not, such as into the ground or a person, which can result in electrocution or fire hazard in your Dillon, SC, home. GFCI can also protect the device from any damage that may result from an electrical overload.
Fueling Up While Operating
When adding fuel to a generator, it is important to ensure that the device is completely cool before refilling the unit. This is because the generator’s motor is still producing heat, and any fuel added can cause a spark that can cause a fire. Additionally, if the generator is switched off but still hot, adding fuel can cause an explosion.
Topping off a generator’s gas tank when it is empty can also be dangerous because it can result in fuel overflow and potentially lead to a fire or explosion. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s fueling guide and avoid overfilling the tank. It’s also crucial to make sure the area around the unit is well-ventilated when running it to prevent fire hazards.
Using Substandard Fuel
You may feel tempted to save some cash by opting for cheap fuel, but that can ultimately cost you more in the long run. The lower-quality fuel can damage the generator’s injectors and promote clogging, which may lead to microorganism infestation. This can reduce the generator’s functional efficiency and lead to costly repairs or replacement.
Using premium fuel can help your backup generator run smoothly and efficiently and extend its lifespan. Therefore, it would be best to use premium fuel for your appliance to avoid potential damage and save money in the long run.
Connecting the Device Directly to the Service Panel
Connecting a generator directly to a home’s service panel or back feeding is a dangerous practice that may result in electrical fires. When the power returns, residual energy can move up the line in the opposite direction. This can create a dangerous situation for the homeowner and any electrical service personnel working on the power lines.
Additionally, back feeding is illegal and can result in fines or penalties. It is important to consult with a licensed electrician and follow proper safety guidelines when using a generator to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. An electrician can mount a transfer switch that isolates the generator from the utility power and prevents back feeding.
Beware of These Generator Mistakes
During outages or at outdoor events, portable generators save the day. However, homeowners should avoid the above-discussed mistakes when using generators.
It’s important to regularly maintain and service the generator as per the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it runs smoothly and safely. If you live in or near Dillon, SC, and need to service or install a backup generator, feel free to contact electricians at Mister Sparky Generators.