Generators are critical components of a home and industrial infrastructure which sustain, support, or replace grid power supply when needed. Their functioning can impact crucial tasks and operations. For instance, hospitals offering critical care rely on consistent power to ensure their patient’s health and safety since numerous vital machines and components depend on stable power. When they leverage generator power supply, companies must ensure 100% reliability. Likewise, in businesses, from farms to factories, generators support essential operations when grid power problems occur, and these alternative power systems need to be highly dependable. 

When you work on your generator’s planned maintenance and upkeep approach, it helps to use the generator’s criticality, load, and operating environment stress factors as barometer readings to decide how to prepare the maintenance schedule. For example, when a generator is exposed to high/low temperatures, large amounts of dust/pollution, and high humidity, the stress on the generator is visibly higher, and those generators will need more frequent checks. If you are supporting business-critical tasks with generator power, that’s another aspect to factor in. And, of course, the extent of use also comes into play. Generators that are set into action only once in a while may not require ongoing maintenance work, but if your generator is taxed with a high load and running time, it makes sense to have a more rigorous maintenance schedule. It often helps to install a running-time meter, which can indicate the total use in a given period and help you plan the generator maintenance timetable.

Essential Tips for Generator Maintenance

It is a relatively well-known fact that generators, in general, are rugged, built to handle the load, and require little maintenance. The trouble is sometimes people tend to take them for granted. However, little maintenance does not mean zero maintenance. A failure to give the generator the minimum regular checks can cause several problems, including malfunctioning, component damage, and the more expensive repairs required when these issues escalate. One helpful exercise to include in your preventive maintenance checklist is starting up the generator power system once a week, or once a month at least, to ensure it’s in good working condition and give it some priming to stay in shape. 

Here are some quick tips to help you take care of your generator; a simple generator maintenance checklist for a detailed review of the vital components and sub-systems. 

  • General Inspection

The critical systems you need to keep an eye on are the fuel, exhaust, control, and DC electrical systems. Frequent checks of these aspects can help you spot issues when they are only minor problems and prevent them from worsening into a crisis.

  • Fuel System

Fuel systems are critical to the proper functioning of generators. Fuel system filters must be checked to ensure they do their job correctly. It’s also helpful to look at the supply lines and return lines. Generators can malfunction if these lines keep touching one another, so it’s important to check this frequently. 

  • Exhaust System

A faulty exhaust system can cause the area to smoke up, create pollution where it is not manageable, and also impact the generator engine if the exhaust outlets do not allow the free flow of smoke inside the machine. In addition, exhaust systems can run into problems with blocks, leaks, corrosion, and wear and tear in the joints. A thorough visual inspection of the pipe, the exhaust muffler, and the manifold will help you spot any potential problems. Look for cracks, minor leaks, corrosion, and gaps in the welding, gaskets, and other joints. Another thing to check is if there is overheating from the exhaust pipes; this can be a sign of poor performance and low air quality, which needs immediate attention.

  • Control System

The control system is vital in enabling the generator to function optimally and log data accurately during run time. Only when the control system operates correctly can you get reliable voltage, current, and frequency readings based on the proper functioning of its various meters and gauges. 

  • DC Electrical System

One of the essential electrical checks you need to conduct is the terminals on the batteries. Are they well-connected and in good shape? Loose connections can prevent the generator from starting correctly. You also want to ensure that they are free of corrosion and damage. 

  • Lubrication Service

Proper engine oil levels are needed for your generator to work efficiently. You can check the level of the engine oil using the engine dipstick. One key aspect to remember is that you will get the wrong oil level readings if you do not wait for the oil to settle back into the crankcase after running the generator. When managing your engine oils, it is always a good idea to use the engine manufacturer’s guidelines for oil specifications, such as viscosity and oil classification. You will also need to change the oil filters regularly to maintain oil quality for the longest time. When disposing of used oil and oil filters, it’s essential to follow specific disposal protocols in the interests of environmental factors. Engine manufacturers can help you with this information to avoid violating ecological codes. 

  • Cooling System Service

Coolants, especially heavy-duty generators, may include water, coolant additives, and antifreeze in a well-balanced mix. It’s essential that the correct type of coolant is used and that you check the coolant level, preferably every day. Frequently top up the coolant so that it is at the minimum levels required. You will need to shut down the generator and wait for it to cool before checking and removing the radiator cap. You can also check the radiator to ensure there are no blocks and accumulated dirt, being careful not to damage the radiator fins. 

  • Fuel System Service

Fuel filters can often malfunction and cause problems with fuel quality. Even when your generator is unused for a long time or fuel is not replenished, it can cause contamination of the fuel chambers. Sometimes sediments and water vapor can accumulate, and even bacterial growth can occur. That’s why it is essential the fuel tank filters are drained regularly and stored fuel is treated using biocides based on the generator manufacturer’s guidelines. 

These checks are few and easy to perform but go a long way in ensuring your generator servicing is optimal, the machine is in top form, your costs are kept low, and your investment gives you the highest ROI. With these critical systems covered in your generator maintenance checklist, you can ensure optimal performance and long life for your generator.