When it comes to survival, it’s no secret that energy is the name of the game. In the most basic sense, you need calories (a unit of energy) in order to live; in a more complicated situation, you may need wattage to power your home’s most valued utilities. Some hardline survivalists may overlook portable generators because they still rely on the availability of gasoline, which may not always be available in some worst-case scenarios.
But even in the event of catastrophic fuel scarcity, although a portable, gasoline-powered generator may not be a limitless machine, it will surely be advantageous in getting you and your loved ones over the first hump of cooperative survivalism. With this in mind, following are three ways to properly maintain your portable generator.
Preform General Maintenance
Note: As always, you should contact your local generator shop if you’re uncomfortable or unsure about maintaining your generator. Also, you should always reference your generator’s manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance and repairs.
When preforming general maintenance, there are a few things you should look out for right off the bat. First of all, you’ll want to clean the generator, then change the oil, the oil filter, air filter, and spark plugs, and after that you should make sure your portable generator’s battery is working properly as well (if it has one.) Some other helpful tidbits: Your oil and oil filter should be replaced every 50 hours; your oil filter should be replaced every 100 hours; and your spark plugs should be replaced every 100 hours, depending on their condition.
After that, you’ll want to look at the overall condition of the generator — corroded elements, wiggly wires, sticky buttons, etc. Also, check for any shaky connections and frayed wiring. What’s more, if your generator has sucked in any dirt or leaves, make sure to clean out the area. If debris gets into your generator’s alternator, it could end up destroying it!
Check the distilled water in the battery and top it off if necessary. Also, you’ll want to check the battery’s voltage, and just keep in mind that you should replace your battery every two to three years. After that, it’s a good idea to change the lubricant oil and filters (following the manufacturer’s instructions, of course.) This should be an annual task whether or not the generator has been operated throughout the year, and you should be sure to record the yearly change in the record book so you’re reminded whenever it’s due.
Start Your Generator Regularly & Store it Properly
This may come as a surprise to some, but if your generator is not being put to use on a regular basis, it’s important to fire it up at quarterly intervals to ensure that it’s running without a hitch. At the very least, you should start every month and let it run for a few minutes. Starting and running your portable generator once a month provides several benefits such as lubricating the engine, drying out the alternator, and cleaning up the carburetor. Also, it’s important that you mix a good gasoline preservative with the fuel — this will keep the gasoline fresh, and keep the carb clean. And you should always allow your carburetor to run all the fuel out by closing the tank valve after 10 minutes, which will empty the carburetor each time.
After that’s all done, you should always make sure to store your generator properly in order to prolong its utility. First of all, you should always clean your generator before storing it, which means removing grease, mud, fuel, etc. from the working parts of the generator. For this, you can just use rags to clean it up each time, and then use a compressed air blower to help clean out the ventilation fans.
Also, if there are any signs of corrosion present, you’ll need to treat them with a corrosion inhibitor product, which can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Finally, you should be sure to store your generator in an area that isn’t subject to moisture or any other kind of water. Try to keep it in a cool, dry space and covered up against dust, mud, or grime for monthly maintenance.
Get it Serviced
For some, generators are complex, magical pieces of equipment. For others, they’re cold, efficient machines. Regardless of your perception though, if general maintenance is done properly and you follow the instructions above, you likely won’t need to visit the shop very often. However, if you do need to take your portable generator into the shop, you should try to schedule these service dates around possible severe weather events that you could end up needing your generator during. It’s also worth noting that an average service should take about an hour to complete, depending on the state of your machine.
Along with getting it serviced, it’s a good idea to create a record book of your generator maintenance history for future reference. By providing a record book for your repair shop that documents the dates of service and any issues found and fixed with your generator, you can make the process of serving your generator much easier.
This Article was written by Clayton Preble, owner and operator of GenSpring Power and GeorgiaGenerator.com in Jasper, GA. Clayton is an expert when it comes to anything about standby and backup generators, and loves sharing his expertise with others.