As standby generator technicians, we get asked all the time why it’s important to conduct maintenance in regular intervals on backup generators. There are numerous reasons we’ll cover in the article but let’s start with engine oil.
Most people don’t know that engine oil degrades with time even if the engine doesn’t run at all. if the life expectancy is 1 year, that does not mean it retains its qualities at 100% until the one year mark. It starts to degrade from day one but still performs to a tolerance level that’s acceptable at the one year mark.
Now if you extend that service interval to 18 months it does not mean your oil is half as good as new because you’re over the recommended time to change by 50%. Oil doesn’t degrade linearly meaning it may retain its usefulness and then suddenly lose 90% of its lubricating ability and other properties.
Now Consider Backup Generator Oil
Due to the nature of the use of a generator it runs infrequently. Yes it may exercise weekly but that is not enough to burn the contaminants from the oil. When a generator expert services these units yearly, it is very common to see a milky color in the oil and a jelly-like consistency. This is caused by condensation in the crankcase which is not uncommon in backup generators.
In our Canadian climate, we can see temperature changes of 15-20 degrees from morning to night. Cold mornings and warm afternoons cause condensation, and that water settles in the crankcase of your car, your motorcycle, and yes, your generator. The difference with the generator is that it runs so infrequently and therefore does not get to temps and stay there long enough to burn the water and other contaminants from the oil. When left too long all you have in place of what should be clean honey brown oil is a white milky substance that doesn’t perform or protect the engine and is hard to drain out of the unit.
As you can see, oil is a big reason for regular maintenance for the health of the gas engine in your home standby generator, but there’s more to it.
Other Critical Generator Maintenance Tasks
During an annual service and in addition to changing your oil and oil filter, a technician will replace the air filter and spark plugs as needed which is often the case in annual maintenance. Your technician will also update the onboard firmware and assess any work that Generac may have put out in a bulletin since the last service.
Additionally, your technician will lubricate the mixer assembly, hinges and locks and clean the unit inside and out. If winter is approaching, we add lock deicer inside the keyholes of the locks to ensure ease of access during the winter months. A general inspection of the unit is included in annual maintenance and goes a long way. Your generator technician will also test your battery under load (the only correct way to test a battery) and make sure it’s good for the upcoming year, if not we will sell you a new one, installed on the spot. If your unit is liquid cooled, we will service the liquid cooling components and top off fluids in addition to all of the above.
At an annual maintenance visit from Generator Experts, we will do a simulated power outage and visibly ensure the transfer switch and cabling is all performing as expected. Lastly an output voltage and hertz measurement will be performed and any adjustments required will be made.
Protecting the sensitive equipment in your home is a result of good generator maintenance. We think you would agree that a well-maintained generator will be a working backup generator when it’s needed most.
If you’re in Ontario and need help, contact Generator Experts to schedule maintenance or repair for your generator today.