residential generators

5 Steps for Proper Maintenance of Residential Generators

A residential generator keeps your power on during an outage. It is usually installed outside your home and turns on immediately when there is a power outage. Residential generators run on propane or natural gas and hence, there is no nuisance of refuelling them. During a power outage, your automatic transfer switch (ATS) will signal the generator to start. The generator provides power backup to your house till the utility power returns through the ATS. After the utility power returns, the ATS transfers the electricity back to the utility and the generator shuts off. The generator is in a standby mode until the next outage. 

 

A generator usually runs a self-test to assure it is ready for any immediate power surge. Residential generators are commonly used to provide electrical backup to household appliances such as refrigerators, electronics, heat/ AC, lights and water systems. For efficient performance, household generators must be properly maintained.

 

Maintenance Tips for Your Residential Generators

Here are a few maintenance tips for your home backup generator to make sure it's operating efficiently:

 

1. Visual Inspection

It’s important to regularly check all the generator components for any loose connections. Here are a few checks you should carry out: 

 

  • Make sure there is no corrosion, rust or damage to the wiring, exhaust system and the engine.
  • Inspect the fuel supply pipes for any damages or possible leaks. 
  • Check if there is adequate coolant by examining the overflow tank. Make use of appropriate tester for the type of coolant used. 
  • Maintain proper cleanliness in the surrounding area. Clean visible dust, mud and dirt regularly. 
  • Check the area for smoke and carbon monoxide using detectors.
  • While the generator is running, check for any vibrations or unusual noises.
  • Examine other equipment such as fire extinguisher, first aid kit and manuals as well.

 

2. Plugs and Filters

Air filters and spark plugs need to be changed every 200 hours of use. A clean air filter and a new plug will ensure you have a proper fuel-air mixture. If you run your generator in a smoggy area, you may need to change the air filter more frequently. A clogged air filter will reduce the generator efficiency and harm the potential lifespan of the generator.

 

3. Backup Fuel

Your generator efficiency depends on the choice of your fuel. Propane is less risky than gasoline and natural gas. Generators using natural gas provide an unlimited power supply but it is challenging to store. Most propane tanks are about 500 to 1000 gallons and are situated above or below the ground. A propane-powered generator will burn almost 2-3 gallons an hour. With this estimate, your generator will run continuously for a week with 500 gallons fuel and 1000 gallons fuel will last you a fortnight. For propane, you will need to install a plumbing line between the fuel and the generator.  

 

4. Battery Age

Check your battery for any corrosion and lose cables. It’s important to know the age of your battery. The typical life expectancy of a battery is about 5 years, but it’s better to replace it every 3 years. Maintaining a log for the purchase date, will make it easy to replace the battery on time. Make sure the mixture of electrolyte and distilled water is according to the manufacturer’s specifications to maintain the battery level. It’s best to monitor the test battery voltage at regular intervals and ensure a trickle charge is always available.

 

5. Transfer Switch

It’s crucial to get the right switch for your generator. Some generators might have a built-in transfer switch. You need to check the main breaker in your electrical panel to read the amperage. Get the same amp switch for your home panel. A typical home has around 200 amp breaker. 

 

It’s best to ensure that your home standby generator is in ‘auto’ mode so that it starts automatically. Any residential generator should undergo periodic maintenance to ensure it is available on demand. Generator failure is usually caused when maintenance checks are ignored. Paramount Power Systems offers residential generator solutions in Mississauga. When buying a generator, make sure you check the generator size, permits and installation cost. Our sizing calculator helps you determine which generator is right for you. Contact our specialists for queries regarding residential generators. 

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