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Get the Most Out Of Your Generator With These Generator Maintenance Tips

generator maintenance

A good generator is a lot like a car: a heavy investment up front, but sure to serve you well for many years to come if you treat it right. “If you treat it right,” is the operative phrase here. Anyone can buy a generator and let it run itself into the ground, but the truly attentive homeowner will understand proper generator maintenance as the best way to get the most out of their investment. 

Remember to change out your fuel

The number one cause of generator issues is old, stale fuel clogging up the system and causing damage to the inner workings of the machine Unstable fuel leads to fuel breakdown, varnish and gum buildup. Thankfully, most manufacturers provide compounds called stabilizers that help with this, but it’s not a catch-all by any means. At the end of the day, the safest thing is to fully drain and replace the fuel in your generator. If your carburetor has a drain, wait for the engine to cool before draining it. If no drain is present, empty the tank and let the generator run until it’s out of gas. Then add more fuel as needed. 

Run Your Generator Every So Often 

Rolling stone gathers no moss, and a running generator develops fewer issues. Most people keep generators in the event of an emergency, which leads to them leaving it idle for long stretches of time. Ironically, this can lead to decreased performance when you actually do need it. Giving your generator a little work out once in a while is a crucial part of proper maintenance. Fire it up once every three months or so, just for a few hours. You’ll be thankful when that next big storm rolls in and your generator is at the top of its game. 

Replace Filters When They’re Dirty

This goes for most pieces of hardware with air filters, but doubly so for your generator. If your air filter is dirty, it’s just not doing its job. They’re fairly easy and cheap to replace, so getting a new one should be one of the first things you think to do. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, however, you can clean your existing filter yourself, but it’s hard for us to recommend this unless you’re in a pinch. Filters can tear very easily and a broken filter is an even worse issue than a dirty one. 

Stay on Top of Your Spark Plug

When it comes to generator maintenance, one of the main problems you’re trying to avoid is a non-start. If your generator won’t start up, a busted spark plug is one of the most common offenders. A spark plug is arguably the key component in starting your generator, being responsible for creating the electricity that fires it up. Because these components get such a workout, it’s common, even expected, for them to become dirty and break down. As always, make sure the generator is cooled down before attempting any check-up. If it’s dirty, remove it from the generator, clean it with a wire brush, and carefully place it back inside with a torque wrench. 

Store Your Gas Responsibly

Not strictly a generator maintenance tip, but still very important if you own one. Gasoline needs to be stored properly if you want it to work later on. Most local fire codes have limits on how much gasoline you can store at your home. You may be tempted to buy a larger container to limit the amount of refill runs. This is not advisable, as larger containers are unwieldy and are prone to spilling, especially when refilling the generator. Two smaller containers are preferable, both for reducing spillage and general safety. 

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