In either case, a standby generator set could conceivably last 20 to 30 years. One way to ensure a long, reliable operating life is to implement a preventive maintenance (PM) program.
Preventive maintenance and service are typically done on a schedule based upon engine hours and/or time periods. The maintenance cycle can—and should—be adapted to meet specific application needs. The more hours per year a unit operates, the more frequently it will require service. Environment also plays a role: The more severe the environment (dusty, extremely hot or cold, highly humid, etc.), the more frequent the need for service may be.
At a minimum, a good visual inspection should be done on a monthly basis, as well as after any extended generator run times.
Here are some basic tips for the homeowner:
- Maintain general cleanliness of the generator and its surroundings. In an enclosed unit, make sure there are no rodents trying to take up residence.
- Check the oil level when the unit isn’t running. If the generator has been running, wait for 10 minutes after it shuts down to check the oil level (this allows all of the oil in the engine to drain back into the sump). Maintain the oil level as close to the full mark as possible without overfilling.
Here’s a handy checklist to help guide you as you work to maintain your standby generator(s). Be sure to take note of the frequency recommendations for these maintenance activities:
- Make sure your generator exercises (typically no-load, automatic transfer switch exercise cycle).
- Verify that the unit ran and has no alarms or warnings.
- Ensure adequate fuel levels.
- Ensure that the generator is in “Auto” mode, for automatic startup.
- Check that the circuit breaker is closed.
- Make sure there are no fluid leaks.
- Check engine coolant level.
- Check engine oil level.
- Check the battery charger.
- Change oil and filter.
- Change the fuel filter.
- Change the air filter.
- Clean the crankcase breather.
- Change spark plugs.
- Check coolant concentration.
- Flush the cooling system (as needed).
- Perform load bank testing.
- Fuel testing & reconditioning (diesel-fueled units only).
- Remove water from fuel tank (diesel-fueled units only).
- Check voltages and adjust if needed.
- Check Electrical connections.
- Check exercise and set at requested day/time.
- Inspect generator and transfer switch for loose connections, dirt, any abnormalities, debris and check for any liquid or propane leaks.
- Clean and inspect battery – load test & voltage test battery.