Generator Safety & Maintenance

By Generators
Gentleman safely adds gasoline to his electric generator.

SAFETY:

Your stand-by generator requires professional installation. The preparation & planning for installation can take several weeks, so don’t wait until a storm is approaching before purchasing your unit. Your stand-by generator requires electrical and gas meter hook ups. Always use a licensed gas fitter and an Electrical Contractor that is licensed in the province of Ontario. Being an electrician is not enough. There are several permits that will need to be obtained to begin the installation. When the work is complete be sure to ask for a copy of the electrical inspection certificate as it’s the law to have this work inspected, and a proven safe installation. You and your family’s safety is the number one objective.

Often a new gas meter will need to be installed with the stand-by generator. A power breaker transfer switch will also be needed to ensure there are no electrical back feeds.  Back feeding is when power is coming from your house back out to the power lines, and it can severely injure or kill power company employees tasked with working the power lines in the area.  A lack of knowledge and training can lead to disaster.

Carbon monoxide poisoning remains the biggest safety concern with portable generators.  Portable generators are designed to start and run outside of the home. Never run it inside your home. You should also never run a portable generator under a carport or in a garage either. A good rule of thumb is 25 feet distance between the home and generator. It’s also a good idea to have combination electric and battery powered carbon monoxide detectors in the part of your home nearest to where you put the portable generator. You must be careful with gasoline and portable generators too.  Don’t try and put fuel in while it’s running. You could risk fire, or explosions. To refuel a portable generator, turn off the generator and let it cool down for 15 minutes.

The type of extension cord you use is also a safety concern. Only 12-14 gauge cords are recommended for larger appliances and   you never want to plug directly into your home because again, this can cause back feeding.  Use one cord for one device, or a surge protector strip for smaller electronic devices like radios, TVs, and cell phone charges. Speaking of surge protectors, they are recommended to protect sensitive electronics from power surges that can be caused by generators.

MAINTENANCE:

Stand-by generators require a yearly maintenance service to ensure your investment is maintained. Checking fluid levels, checking for leaks, changing filters, check battery levels, cables, terminations and that cranking and delay times are adequate and accurate.

Portable generators also need regularly scheduled maintenance. This includes oil & filter replacement, and fresh fuel rotation. Gasoline has a shelf life. There are a few products on the market that you can put in the fuel tank to help prolong the life of the gasoline and help prevent mechanical issues. You should test run you generator well in advance of a storm. Run your portable generator until the old gasoline is cycled out of the system to ensure it works properly for when you need it. Please check your owner’s manual for the products that are recommended for your specific model to ensure your warranty is valid.