How to Winterize a Generator

As the colder months arrive, those with portable generators will want to make sure that their equipment is safe and ready for the months to come. There are several steps that can be taken to make sure that your portable generator will continue to perform at its peak. Although we are focusing on winterizing your generator, many of these steps should also be followed while doing your routine maintenance throughout the year.

Getting Your Generator Ready for Winter

Drain the Fuel Lines

Gasoline can degrade quickly and that can cause extensive damage to the carburetor. Make sure to also clean the carburetor to ensure that your generator remains in tip-top condition during those winter months. Dual fuel generators that also use LPG will not require that the carb be cleaned. However, if you have been using a combination of fuels it is essential that you clean the tank and clear the fuel lines. LPG burns cleaner than gasoline so the potential for damage to the generator is far less, but remember to disconnect the propane supply prior to storing.

Change the Filter and Oil

A fresh load of oil will ensure that the parts of the generator remain lubricated over those winter months. Make sure that you are using the appropriate oil. There are several grades of oil available and each is suited to a particular temperature. Using oil with the wrong viscosity can affect the flow. Winter appropriate oil is thinner and your owner’s manual will have suggestions about which type and grade of oil is correct for cold or freezing weather.

Spark Plugs

Some manufacturers suggest removing spark plugs and stopping up the opening once they have been removed. This will ensure that debris and dust do not enter the generator.


Make sure that you cover your generator prior to storage. Several manufacturers produce covers that are designed to protect the generator from snow, ice, and rain. Failing to cover the generator will lead to corrosion. If you cannot find that all-important cover, make sure to store the generator undercover. If secure storage is not available, your best bet is to elevate the generator above the waterline where melting snow and ice will not cause damage. A pallet and a tarpaulin will keep your equipment from suffering the effects of corrosion.

Clear the Area

If you are going to be using the generator during the winter season and live in an area with low rainfall make sure to clear any surrounding bush. A running generator can easily ignite dry vegetation. Clearing the surrounding area will also make maintenance far easier by providing easy access to the generator.

Call in a Professional

Winterizing your generator may sound like a whole lot of work and can be an intimidating job for those who may not have the best DIY skills. The alternative is to call in a professional. They will clean lines, replace spark plugs and perform the routine maintenance that is essential to keep the generator in running condition during those colder months. A service technician will also ensure that the battery has sufficient charge to allow the auto startup to function correctly. Another approach to ensuring that the battery remains functional during the winter months is to install a battery warmer. Once the temperature reaches a sufficiently low point the warmer will come on automatically.

Startup Periodically

Most standby generators have a setting that starts them up for a short period each month. However, yours may not. if this is the case then it’s a good idea to start it up for at least 15 minutes each month. This keeps the essential parts of the generator lubricated and ensures that your generator will start up when it is required. If you are using a portable generator for emergency power, start it up once a month for 20 minutes.

Check Ventilation

All generators require unobstructed airflow in order to operate correctly. It is not uncommon for generators that are exposed to sub-zero temperatures to suffer from ice dams in air intake areas. Make sure to take a look at those air intake areas and manually clear any blockage.

Final Words

With sufficient care, your generator will continue to provide faultless service during the winter. Make sure to conduct regular checks and make your preparations during the fall. A generator is an expensive asset, proper care is essential in order to ensure that your asset remains fully operational when the temperature starts to dip.