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Essential Generator Maintenance Tips for Annapolis Homeowners & Businesses

Generators in Annapolis, MD give homeowners and businesses a vital lifeline during outages, especially important given our region’s susceptibility to severe, unpredictable weather. Generators insure building owners against the inconveniences and potential dangers of power disruptions, but like any electrical system, generators need to be cared for and maintained over time.

Below, we offer some must-know tips for generator maintenance. Make sure your system will always be ready.

Understand Your Generator

Generators are available in various types, each designed with unique features and specific maintenance needs. Generally, homeowners and businesses will select among several primary types of generators:

  • Portable Generators: Versatile and mobile, portable generators provide temporary power across different locations. They are typically fueled by gasoline, are straightforward to maintain, and are practical for occasional use.
  • Standby Generators: Designed for permanent installation, standby generators automatically activate during an outage to provide uninterrupted power. They operate on natural gas or propane and require regular maintenance.
  • Inverter Generators: Compact and efficient, inverter generators deliver a stable power output, which is good for sensitive electronic devices. These generators are quieter and more fuel efficient than other types, although they still require regular maintenance.

Regardless of which type of generator gets installed, every user should know the specific model and maintenance requirements. The manufacturers’ manuals provide more detailed maintenance schedules and guidelines.

Set a Regular Generator Maintenance Schedule

The cornerstone of generator maintenance is regular inspection. Catching symptoms of trouble early makes it easier to address malfunctions before they impact operation. At the minimum, we recommend users perform the following assessments:

  • Visual Inspections: Regularly inspect generators for signs of leaks, corrosion, and wear. Look for oil stains, coolant drips, and fuel leaks as these can indicate underlying issues that need immediate attention.
  • Ventilation and Clearances: Provide the generator with adequate ventilation and make sure it’s free from obstructions. Proper airflow prevents overheating.
  • Connections: Verify that all electrical connections are secure since loose connections can lead to poor performance or even damage to the generator and connected devices.

Regular inspections can be performed by the experienced user who knows how to identify these signs of trouble. Others may benefit from the help of a qualified electrical contractor who specializes in generator maintenance.

Change the Oil and Filter

Just like our cars, generators require oil changes and filter replacements to keep internal components clean and operational. The frequency of oil changes should be determined by the generator manufacturer, but as a best practice, oil should be changed every 100 to 200 hours of operation, or once per year at the minimum.

(Note that for brand new generator installations, service and maintenance should be performed after the first 25 hours of operation. From there, users can adapt to an annual maintenance schedule.)

Steps for Changing the Oil:

  1. Run the generator for a few minutes to warm the oil so it drains easily.
  2. Turn off the generator and disconnect the spark plug to prevent accidental starting.
  3. Place an oil pan under the drain plug, remove the plug, and let the oil drain completely.
  4. Replace the drain plug and remove the old oil filter.
  5. Install a new oil filter; make sure it’s properly lubricated and tightened.
  6. Refill the engine with the recommended type and amount of oil.
  7. Reconnect the spark plug and start the generator to check for leaks.

Find out which type of oil the manufacturer specifies and follow these recommendations. High-quality synthetic oil is often recommended for its superior performance and longevity.

Check the Battery

Next, inspect the battery connections and terminals. Particularly for older generators that don’t see much use, battery connections can become corroded or loose over time. Check these connections and, if possible, use a multimeter to test the battery’s voltage. A standby generator typically requires a 12-volt DC battery, the same type that cars use. To prevent battery damage over time, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or anti-corrosion spray to the terminals to prevent buildup.

Fuel System Maintenance

Examine fuel system components to make sure that the generator receives an uninterrupted fuel supply. This reduces the risk of line cracks or fuel leaks from developing into bigger, more serious hazards. To prevent these issues, perform a top-to-bottom review of generator fuel lines:

  • Check Fuel Levels: Check fuel levels regularly. For standby generators, make sure the fuel supply (natural gas or propane) is sufficient.
  • Inspect Fuel Lines: Examine fuel lines for cracks, leaks, or wear, noting which lines may need to be replaced by a generator service company.
  • Fuel Stabilizers: If the generator uses gasoline, add a fuel stabilizer to prevent fuel degradation, which can cause engine problems. This is especially important if the generator is stored for long periods without use.

Cooling System Care

Overheating can mean the end of an expensive backup generator. To prevent engine damage, make sure that coolant levels, hoses, and the radiator are all in optimal condition. If the generator is liquid cooled rather than air cooled, be sure to check the coolant level each year as part of the annual inspection (and remember to keep in mind which types of coolant are recommended by the manufacturer).

Just like for the fuel system, inspect the radiator lines for signs of wear, cracks, or leaks. Any spillage here will prevent the engine from getting cooled properly. It also helps to keep the radiator clean of debris that tends to build up; use a soft-bristle brush or compressed air to remove dirt from airflow vents.

Exercise the Generator

It’s good practice to “exercise” the generator once in a while to keep the parts in good working condition. This is the best way to make sure that the system will be ready for action if, and when, it’s finally needed:

  • Regular Checks: Run the generator for about 30 minutes every few months to keep the engine lubricated and the battery charged.
  • Load Testing: Periodically test the generator under load to be sure it can handle the required power output; connect it to a variety of devices to simulate actual usage conditions.
  • Frequency and Duration: Most manufacturers recommend periodic running of the generator to maintain its longevity. Follow the generator’s manual for specific recommendations.

Generator Maintenance & Cleanliness

A clean generator is a happy generator. Regular cleaning helps generators cool down and makes them less prone to mechanical failure. Aside from extending the lifespan of the system, a clean generator is easier to service and inspect for abnormalities. As part of the maintenance routine, clean the generator’s exterior of dust, debris, pollen, or other contaminants. It’s good to prune foliage from around outdoor generators to keep airflow vents free of obstruction.

When to Seek Out Professional Maintenance and Service

DIY maintenance should be a generator owner’s first line of defense against problems, but at-home inspections can go only so far. Professional contractors who service generators in Annapolis, MD can perform detailed assessments of generator health and make specific recommendations for how homeowners or businesses can get more out of their system.

  • Benefits of Professional Inspections: Electricians have the tools and knowledge to perform thorough inspections and maintenance, ensuring that any potentially hazardous generator work is handled by professionals.
  • Find a Reliable Electrician: Choose a reputable generators company in Annapolis, MD to handle your inspections. Look for local experience and a track record of quality service among past customers, as well as familiarity with the generator brands in use.
  • Schedule Regular Service: Arrange for a professional service at least once a year or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This can include tasks such as detailed engine diagnostics, load bank testing, and comprehensive system checks.

Weismann Electric is your trusted partner for generator installation and maintenance. Our team of seasoned electricians offers comprehensive services for all makes and models of propane, natural gas, and diesel generators. We also maintain a large inventory of parts from many manufacturers and provide warranty work for Briggs & Stratton, GE, and Generac generators and transfer switches.

Our services for generators in Annapolis, MD include electrical testing; load bank testing; fuel, oil, and coolant sample testing; infrared testing; and custom outage testing. We also offer custom contracts and standard semi-annual preventative maintenance contracts to make sure your system runs smoothly.

Contact us to get the generator help you need before hurricane and winter storm seasons hit!