Proper Portable Generator Maintenance Saves You Money and Extends the Life of Your Generator

portable generator maintenance

Whether you’re a Pro on a jobsite or prepping for storm season, proper maintenance is key to keeping your portable generator running properly. Not only does it save you money, but also extends the life of your generator.

The type of fuel your generator uses, like diesel or natural gas, affects its maintenance requirements. Both need regular oil changes, spark plugs, and cooling system inspections.

1. Change the Oil

One of the most important maintenance tasks on a portable generator is changing the oil. This will keep your engine lubricated, prevent leaks and ensure proper break-in.

Most generators have an oil dipstick that you can use to check the level of oil. It’s located near the engine of the generator and is a long metal rod with a handle on top that goes into the oil reservoir.

First, remove the dipstick from the oil reservoir and wipe it clean. Then, insert it back into the reservoir to get the correct reading.

This is an important step in keeping the generator running properly because it will prevent unexpected shut offs. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals to avoid damage to the engine and extend the lifespan of your generator.

Depending on your model, you may need to drain the old oil before you can refill it with fresh oil. The process is fairly simple, although you should always make sure that the generator is on a level surface before starting to work with it.

2. Change the Air Filter

Changing the air filter is a critical maintenance task for any portable generator. It helps to remove dust, rust, and other debris that can build up around the engine’s rotor and stator, which are two of the most important parts in generating power.

If the rotor and stator get too dirty, they won’t work properly or they may even burn out quicker than usual. To avoid this, clean the air filter regularly and replace it as needed.

The air filter also keeps fuel from clogging the carburetor, which can cause improper combustion and low fuel efficiency. It’s important to change the air filter on a regular basis, regardless of how often you use your generator.

To remove the air filter, you’ll need to access the generator’s front panel and detach the rubber hose. You can use a pair of pliers to do this. Once free, slide the new air filter onto the generator. Afterward, check that the gap between the spark plugs is right for your model.

3. Check the Battery

The battery in a portable generator is an essential part of its functioning. If it is not properly maintained, the unit will not start or will have difficulty operating.

Batteries that are not charged regularly or have been discharged can decrease their life and capacity, so it is important to check them for signs of damage. It is also recommended to conduct load tests to assess the battery’s performance.

A load test will force the batteries to perform at their full capacity, which will help determine their condition more thoroughly than a simple multimeter reading. Load testing can also identify problems that are difficult to detect during a visual inspection, such as lead debris or sulfation.

4. Check the Outlets

A portable generator’s outlets must be checked to make sure they are working properly. This includes checking the voltage, amperage, phasing and grounding of each outlet.

If the voltage is too low, it may indicate that the electrical circuit is overloaded or there’s an overloading issue with one of your appliances. This can cause your generator to overheat or break down.

Also, it’s important to check that the generator’s outlets are GFCI protected. These outlets will trip if they become wet, which can be an electrocution hazard.

The NEMA electrical code classifies plugs and receptacles by voltage, amperage, phasing, grounding and number of wires/prongs. You can use this information to determine what type of connector is being used for a particular appliance or device.