Care and feeding of your generator—so it’s ready for the next time

Oil change, fuel stabilizer
house in scarf
Monday, November 19, 2012
by Norm Jen

For those of us who had a generator running for some or all of the Sandy aftermath, we know what lifesavers these things can be.  Many of the generators I saw running in New Castle were portable generators.  Before they’re put away, I would suggest having a look at the owners manual for storage information.  You’ll want to be sure the generator will be ready to go the next time you need it.  Instructions on storing a generator are in your owners manual.  Don’t have the owners manual?  Try searching the internet.  Still can’t find it?  The basic process is pretty simple:

•    Change the engine oil.  This involves draining the old motor oil, then refilling with new motor oil (I use 10W-30).  What to do with the old motor oil?  Put the spent motor oil in an empty plastic container and bring it to any gas station for recycling.
•    Make sure the generator has a full tank of gas and mix in gas stabilizer.  Run the engine for 15 minutes to make sure the stabilized gas has circulated through the engine.  Why use gas stabilizer?  Gas that is stored for over 30 days starts to break down, causing possible engine deposits and corrosion.  Gas stabilizer prevents this.
•    Recheck the oil level.
•    Clean up the generator and store it along with the generator cord and gas cans.  To avoid having gas fumes making their way into your home, do not store your generator and gas cans in the basement or any part of the living space.

[If you have run the generator extensively, consider having it serviced much as a car would be serviced: air filter, spark plug, and adjustments. Unless you are comfortable doing this stuff, I’d suggest bringing the generator to a shop that can perform this for you.]

If the generator has been sitting for three months or more, it’s a good idea to pull it out of storage, run it for 10-15 minutes, and return it to storage.  That way, you keep things moving inside the engine and you have the peace of mind knowing that it’ll start when you really do need it.

May all of our generators get cleaned up and tucked away nicely.  And let’s hope we never need to call on them again!!!

Norm Jen, a New Castle resident, contractor and instructor, is Energy Coach for Energize New York and its sibling, Energize New Castle.  Both websites lead to info on critical measures each household can take to save energy and dollars. 

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