Home Generator Maintenance Made Simple
How to Maintain a Home Standby Generator
When it comes to standby generators, it's easy to set it and forget it. However, like any other engine-powered machine, standby generators require regular maintenance. If you have a portable generator, you'll want to check out our portable generator maintenance guide.
Keep reading to learn basic home generator maintenance and what to look out for to maximize the life of your equipment.
To begin, and I can't emphasize this enough, any maintenance you do will vary based on the specific equipment you have. That's why it's important to keep and read your owner's manual. It contains model-specific information that will allow the best operation and performance from your generator.
You wouldn't drive your car for 10,000 miles without getting an oil change and the same goes for your standby generator. Just like with cars, you'll typically need to do this once a year or after a certain amount of running hours that should be specified in your owner's manual.
Start by checking oil levels using the oil dipstick. When you pull out the dipstick, the oil should come up to the fill line. If it doesn't, you definitely need a change. Also, if the oil is dark and thick, it's probably old and needs to be replaced.
To perform an oil change on your standby, find the oil drain tube, loosen the wing nut, and drain the oil into an approved container. You can then use a funnel to add oil into the designated oil fill tube. You can choose either regular or synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is designed for superior high- and low-temperature viscosity, meaning it will perform better for cold starts or while running in extreme heat.
If your generator runs for an extended time (i.e. 48 hours), allow it to cool down. It's a lot of heat for an air-cooled engine so you'll want to check the oil and change it if needed.
After a couple years of use, your spark plugs can get pretty nasty. Take out the old spark plugs and compare them to the new ones. The difference is pretty dramatic.
Install the new spark plugs to keep your generator running in top form.
Like the spark plug, the air filter can also get dirty after a couple years. If it's only slightly dirty, you can remove it, shake it against the ground to remove debris, and put it back.
If it has been a few years and it's really dirty, you'll want to replace it with a new one.
Check the Battery
The battery inside your generator can corrode and leak, which is why you should remove and inspect it as part of regular maintenance. Remove it from the terminals and check the charge with a battery tester. If there is corrosion on the battery, clean it off with baking soda or a battery cleaning kit from your local automotive store.
Keep the Area Clean
Home generator maintenance for your standby isn't just about the generator itself. To ensure proper air intake and exhaust, keep the surrounding area clear of leaves, shrubs, and any other blockages. This is important not just for the generator but for the plantlife, since the exhaust gases will kill anything growing too close.
Maximize the Life of Your Generator
Standby generators don't need maintenance as frequently as portable units, but you can't completely neglect them. Following the maintenance procedures discussed above will help your generator run for years to come.