Recent storms have reminded some of us a backup generator is important to keep around the house. But generators will do a family no good if they have been keept in poor condition, or have gone too long without service. The day the power goes out is a bad day to discover your generator has corodded spark plugs or burned out from lack of oil. Much of the regular maintenance on a generator is like that for a car, so be sure to follow these simple steps to keep your generator in working condition:
Turn it on from time to time.
Just like the engine in your car, the engine in a generator can have trouble starting, or working at all, if it is left around for months at a time without being used. Moisture can seep in through gaskets and fuel and oil can find their way out if the engine is left exposed to the elements. Running the engine periodically can keep its moving parts in working order and save you the hassle of a generator that won't start when you need it to.
Store it away from moisture.
In addition to keeping the engine in good shape, storing your generator in a safe, dry place will help keep its electrical components from corroding. And be sure to check them during regular maintenance of your generator and clean any parts that need cleaning.
Keep the oil fresh.
In the event of an extended power loss, we can run our generators for quite a period of time without necessarily thinking to turn them off and make sure they're doing ok. Taking time each day to keep an eye on the oil level in your generator, and to change it out when it become dirty, can extend the life of your generator as well as help keep it from seizing up while in use. A generator that goes down so catastrophically during disaster will be of no use to anyone.
Keep it outside while running.
Given the number of deaths from carbon monoxide exposure during a disaster, it is always thorough to remind those who use generators to not store them anywhere connected to your residence, as deadly exhaust fumes can creep in and kill even entire families. If available, keep your generator in a detached garage or shop, but never in a basement or attached garage. If these are not an option, you may want to look into acquiring a storage shed to use for your generator, as this expense may save your life during a disaster.