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How to keep your generator in top condition

Unfortunately there is a law called entropy that basically says everything deteriorates if left unattended. This applies to your garden, chemical reactions and yes, your generator. If it is left unused or unserviced for a lengthy time, you may have problems when you go to use it.

Some of the issues that occur when generators aren’t used are:

Battery condition can fail

Battery chemistry requires reversible reactions that keep a state of equilibrium as the current flows so lead sulphate salts that form can be broken down. If a battery remains unused for a long period of time, lead sulphate forms without being broken down. These can block the flow of current and eventually stop the battery from working.

Hoses become brittle

Natural rubber is prone to deterioration due to oxidation and exposure to extreme temperatures. This is particularly more prevalent when it is not being used. Rubber that gets regular use will retain its flexibility and molecular properties longer than neglected rubber. Similarly, plastic is susceptible to deterioration from UV light and extreme temperatures.

Oil breaks down

Both oil and fuel left sitting for long periods of time can break down. Fuel in the generator can become stale or develop diesel bug causing a blockage in the fuel filter and fuel lines. Oils also can break down over time so make sure these are checked and replaced annually.

How to maintain your generator

Your generator can be a sizeable investment so you want to look after it. For commercial properties, the maintenance of your generator may be part of your building warrant of fitness so you want to schedule regular check ups in order to maintain compliance.

The last thing you want when your power goes out is for your generator to be malfunctioning. We recommend a monthly check or the following things. Pace Power and Air can also provide a complete annual service to take the hassle and worry out if it.

Clean Generator - Keeping your generator clean will help you spot any potential problems that might arise and extend the life of your generator.

Oil - Regularly check the oil level and have a look for any signs of leaks. It is generally recommended to change the oil of a generator annually or at the specified run hours recommended by the engine manufacturer. The oil filter should also be changed at this time.

Water - inspect for any leaks and ensure the water or coolant level is full. If the generator is fitted with a water jacket heater to preheat the engine coolant, check that it is functioning correctly. It should be warm to the touch.

Radiator/Air Inlet/Outlet - clean your air filters regularly and replace them after the required running time.

Fuel - filters should be changed annually or at the intervals specified by the engine manufacturer. Check the fuel lines carefully and ensure there are no leaks. Fuel additives will extend the life of your fuel but it is best practice to keep the tank full to reduce the likelihood of condensation forming in the fuel tank.

Battery - check the battery is in good condition. The generator control panel (if fitted) should display the battery voltage. A static battery charger (float type) is recommended to maintain sufficient voltage.

V-Belt - inspect your belts for wear and tear. Start up the generator and make sure there is no vibration in the belt.

Load Testing - Load testing your emergency standby generator system should be part of a standard planned maintenance program. The main reason to test your generator under load is to make sure the generator will perform as designed, when it is needed most.

A load test will allow verification that the generator system will produce and maintain full load without overheating and shutting down. It also allows testing of all components of the system, to ensure all work together as designed and intended and can help identify any potential weaknesses in controlled conditions. Utilising a portable load bank is the preferred method of load testing a generator system.

In addition, because many of the installed generator systems utilise a diesel engine, there is a challenge referred to as wet-stacking. Wet-stacking occurs when the generator does not reach designed operating temperature, allowing carbon and unburned fuel to build up in the exhaust system. If not addressed, wet-stacking will degrade the performance of the engine and not allow the system to operate as designed. Many systems are designed with some redundancy on load or for future expansion. This means they are not loaded sufficiently to eliminate wet-stacking. At a minimum, we recommend all diesel systems be load tested with a portable load bank for a minimum of two hours, annually. This annual testing will reduce the impact wet-stacking will have on a generator system.

Generator maintenance should be considered an insurance policy, not an expense. If you find a problem, it is important to fix it immediately. Pace Power and Air’s technicians are available to provide full support and servicing on your generators, please give us a call today.

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