Installing a generator for your home or office is a sign of foresight. By putting a redundant power supply in place, you allow yourself to work comfortably and safely even if something happens to the grid. But generators alone do not guarantee a supply of power in any crisis.
Only through careful maintenance can you ensure that your backup power source will always be available. This fall, apply the same foresight that first led you to install a generator by inspecting, repairing, and enhancing your generator before cold weather sets in.
Why Autumn is the Best Time for Generator Maintenance
Repairing and maintaining your generator is always a good investment, but it is especially wise during the fall. As the cold weather sets in, you’re more likely than in any other season to need your generator to be working properly, thanks to:
Depending on where you live and how you get your heat, winter may put more stress on your home electrical system than other seasons do. This is particularly true if you rely on electric heating, which consumes large amounts of energy throughout the day. Even if you use gas or solar heating, winter will still give you an incentive to stay inside more, meaning you will have your lights, appliances, and other electrical items on for a larger portion of the day. The more energy you use, the greater the chance of overheating and other problems that can disrupt your access to the grid.
Cold Weather Threats
During the late fall and early winter, severe cold, strong winds, snow, ice, and sleet can all damage power lines and other electrical equipment around your house. A backup generator will allow you to keep the power on no matter how severe and widespread this damage is.
While summer and spring weather can also threaten your access to the grid, they are far less likely than fall and winter conditions to prevent you from fixing the problems they cause. The colder it is, the more difficult and dangerous it will be for repair crews to go outside and fix electrical equipment. Snow and ice may also physically stop them from reaching damaged equipment, forcing them to wait hours or even days for it to melt. A generator allows you to stay warm and safe during this time.
Performing generator maintenance during the fall is the best way to prepare for these and other cold weather threats. It allows you to identify mechanical problems with your generator and fix them before low temperatures set in. It also gives you a chance to compare your current generator to more advanced equipment and consider possibilities for an upgrade or replacement.
The more diligent you are about autumn generator maintenance, the less likely you are to find yourself without power in the dead of winter.
Essential Repairs & Enhancements for Your Generator
As important as generator maintenance is, many home and business owners are not sure where to start when performing it. The following precautions will prepare you for the vast majority of generator problems, giving you access to reliable backup power throughout the year:
1. Check for Damage
Inspect your generator carefully, looking out for dented or rusty equipment, frayed wires, and other signs of damage. While minor damage can be repaired, it may be necessary to replace the generator if it is seriously compromised.
2. Clean the Equipment
Remove twigs, leaves, dirt, and debris from the area surrounding your generator. Pay particular attention to the air filter; if it has been saturated by dirt and dust, replace it immediately. This reduces the risk that your generator will overheat when supplying a large amount of power. It also prevents debris from getting inside and causing mechanical damage.
3. Lubricate Liberally
In addition to keeping it free of debris, you should make sure your generator is properly oiled, and buy enough lubricants to get you through the winter. Not only does this prevent it from overheating, but it also allows it to generate power more efficiently, using as little fuel as possible to keep your lights on.
4. Fuel Up
If this winter’s weather is severe enough to knock out your power supply for an extended period, it will also likely make it impossible to buy more fuel for your generator. It is essential, then, to store enough fuel in your home for long-term generator use. Consider the longest possible period of time the grid might be down, and buy enough fuel to keep the generator running for at least that long. Store your fuel somewhere that is cool, dry, and safe; if you leave fuel in the generator, make sure to use a fuel stabilizer.
5. Invest in Insulation
Cold weather can damage generators along with other electrical equipment, but a cover, frost prevention device, or other form of insulation will keep this risk to a minimum. Insulation also protects the generator from debris and dust, extending its operating life.
6. Supply More Spark Plugs
Even if your generator’s spark plugs appear to be in good condition, buy a set of replacements just in case. Generators cannot run without spark plugs, and you don’t want to be caught without them during a severe winter storm.
7. Obtain a Cold Kit
A cold weather kit will warm up your generator, reducing the chance that you will be unable to start it under severely cold conditions. This may not be necessary if you insulate your generator, but it is still a prudent precaution.
Once you have taken all these steps, turn your generator on and see if it can power your house for a few hours. If it cannot do this, you should seek professional repairs; if there are no problems, you are set for the winter.
Related article: Why You Should Have a Standby Generator for Your Home.
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AQM offers information, repairs, and maintenance services for generators and other electrical equipment in the Delaware Valley. We are proud to be a certified Generac dealer, able to supply you with products, installation, and services related to Generac generators.