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A backup generator is designed to protect your property from the undesirable effects of a power outage by providing temporary power. Whether it’s a power outage caused by a recent storm or your electrical supplier is having issues, you can rest easy that you’re covered for several days of backup power when you have a generator onsite. They’re designed to kick in immediately after a power outage to keep crucial systems, such as the sump pump and appliances running. Still, they can’t always do their job effectively if you don’t keep up their maintenance schedule.
You might think, well, it’s rarely used, so it won’t be affected by wear and tear, and it will be sufficient to cover your property’s energy requirements throughout the next few outages. However, this isn’t always the case. Our helpful list of necessary checks should be performed as part of due diligence and generator maintenance. While living in Marion, SC, it’s crucial to form the mindset of ‘not if, but when there’s a power outage’ if you want to be best prepared.
Weekly/Monthly Generator Maintenance Checks
Merely running the generator using a no-load, automatic transfer switch exercise cycle and verifying that it runs without generating any alarms or warning signs is a simple yet essential task for backup generator maintenance. When checking on your generator, it’s also vital to check fuel levels and ensure there is adequate fuel available. As well as checking fuel levels, it’s important to check engine coolant, engine oil, and battery level. If your generator can be, make sure it’s set to ‘Auto’ at all times. This will ensure automatic startup and lessen the time between the switchover to backup power. Inspect your generator to ensure there are no apparent leaks and make sure the circuit breaker remains closed.
Additional monthly tasks can include:
- Adding liters of fuel if necessary
- Checking radiator condition
- If electric, checking the charging voltage
- Cleaning up debris surrounding the unit
Quarterly/Bi-Annual Generator Maintenance Checks
Quarterly and bi-annual maintenance checks should include a more in-depth analysis of components, such as the wear and tear of the fan belt, the fan belt’s tension, and battery terminal condition. Since battery failure is among the most common repair issues, paying attention to its status and conducting a thorough battery clean is beneficial.
Certified generator technicians in Marion, SC, can help with the more intricate maintenance checks, including:
- Checking battery electrolyte level
- Inspecting the drive belt
- Inspecting the coolant heater
- Inspecting hoses and connectors
- Inspecting the exhaust, muffler, and pipe
- Inspecting air induction components and connections
- Inspecting the AC wiring
- Inspecting the DC electrical system
Annual Backup Generator Maintenance Checks
It’s recommended that you test your generator operating at full load capacity at least once per year, for at least an hour. This is called load management testing, and it ensures that, in the event of an emergency, you know that you can rely on your backup power source to maintain power to all crucial systems. It also helps isolate any potential operational issues or aspects that may require maintenance well ahead of time. As the Scouts motto will tell you: be prepared! Several other annual maintenance steps should be performed yearly by a qualified technician, such as:
- Changing oil and oil filters
- Changing fuel filters
- Changing air filters
- Changing spark plugs
- Cleaning crankcases and removing debris buildup
- Cleaning air grilles
- Cleaning alternators
- Checking and flushing the cooling system as necessary
- Check coolant concentration and levels
- Emptying, flushing, and refilling radiators
- Check the condition of nuts, bolts, and clamps
- Load management testing
- If electric, check electrical connections and terminals
- If diesel, test fuel and recondition
- If diesel, removing water from fuel tanks
Other considerations include checking whether you have enough fuel on-hand for your backup generator to provide power during an extended blackout and making sure it’s being stored appropriately. You may want to consider if it’s time to upgrade any of your equipment, especially if your backup generator is now quite old.
Now you know what some of the most common maintenance tasks are required for your backup generator, it’s also crucial to understand that these checks are most beneficial when they’ve been recorded.
Detailed records should be kept regarding the maintenance procedures which have been completed in the backup generator’s log book if you have it. Think of it like your medical record; it’s a repository of information that objectively records the tests undertaken and their results. A log book record is particularly handy to show the technician performing your next maintenance checks what work has previously been done. However, you can also use it to determine whether it’s cost-effective to keep using the current system and isolate trends that occur on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. If you find yourself regularly replacing mechanical parts, for example, or finding that your generator isn’t capable of supporting the power output you require, it may be time for an upgrade.
The Key Benefits of Maintaining a Generator
- Owning a residential backup generator may reduce homeowners insurance
- Can provide backup power to entire buildings if needed
- Portable generators offer affordable emergency backup solutions
- You have a fallback if your primary generator fails, resulting in no interruption of service
- You know you’ll always have a source of power
Technicians at Mister Sparky Generators are trained to undertake a wide variety of useful backup generator tasks. We provide fluid sampling, load management assessments, part replacements, repairs, and even rodent screening to ensure that nothing is disrupting the inner mechanical workings of your generator. To make sure your generator is ready to work to its maximum potential, schedule a professional maintenance check. At the very least, it’s useful for your generator to undergo a comprehensive set of tests at least once per year. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of recommended maintenance checks, or you’re unsure which apply to your generator, don’t be afraid to chat to our friendly service representatives. We can help you sort through the checks required and give you peace of mind.