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The Benefits of a Comprehensive Generator Maintenance Checklist

October 27, 2022

Whether you manage one facility or several, your clients expect that during power outages a backup generator will come online to provide the power needed to keep everything running smoothly. In some industries, such as healthcare, commercial kitchen facilities that serve residences, and residential living facilities, lack of back up power can be a life-or-death situation. For example, Winter Storm Uri caused 246 deaths in Texas alone, some due to lack power and some due to poorly maintained generators. In California, malfunctioning backup generators put one hospital out of service for four hours in the midst of a late summer heatwave.

While lack of backup generator power can cause problems for businesses of all kinds, a malfunctioning generator can pose a significant hazard to human life and safety. For example, carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas can kill a human being in as few as five minutes of exposure. During a decade ending in 2021, carbon monoxide from generators was the cause of death for 770 individuals in the United States.

The key to identifying and resolving — and ultimately preventing — catastrophic issues with your generators is to develop a preventative maintenance strategy. Since every business is different, your frequency of maintenance may vary, but you should commit to at least an annual maintenance schedule.

A Full-Spectrum Generator Maintenance Checklist

As we mentioned, you may want to tailor a generator maintenance checklist to the specific needs of your business. To help, we have curated some important tasks and ideas that you can use to compile a working maintenance checklist. When choosing your tasks, keep your emergency power needs in mind and develop a schedule that makes the greatest amount of sense for your facility.

Cooling System  

Checking the cooling system is a primary task in any generator maintenance effort. A basic coolant check will involve:

  • Ensuring the radiator is clean and the air flow is unrestricted.
  • Ensuring the correct coolant is being used at the correct concentration.
  • Ensuring coolant is at the right level and topping it off if necessary.

If coolant levels are low, you might want to recheck again in the near future to confirm that you do not have a potential coolant leak.

Electrical System

A functional electrical system is necessary for proper generator performance. At a minimum:

Start your generator to see if the batteries are performing correctly.
Clean battery connections and ensure batteries are charged fully.
If appropriate, check electrolyte levels and specific gravity.
Inspect all wiring and insulation, checking for insulation cracks and loose wiring.

Visual and Active Inspection

Sometimes, issues can be found and resolved with a simple visual inspection of your equipment, especially if these simple checks are conducted on a frequent basis.

  • Check for evidence of leaks, corrosion, or worn gaskets.
  • Remove debris from the area surrounding air intake.
  • Turn the generator on and run it for at least a half hour at 30% capacity, noting unusual noises, vibrations, leaks, or smoke.
  •  Record the stack temperature with an infrared thermometer and note fuel pressure.
  • Test the transfer switch for operability.

When conducting visual inspections, use an LED flashlight or floodlight for visibility.

Fuel System

The fuel system is the core of your generator’s power. To keep it running smoothly:

  • Check fuel lines for leaks
  • Clean and/or replace fuel filters at the rate recommended by your generator’s manufacturer
  • Test your fuel for usability and use additives as necessary.
  • Record fuel consumption and note changes.

Take additional precautions by not storing fuel, especially diesel, for over a year.

Conducting frequent, routine self-examinations of your generator(s) using one — or all — of the suggested tasks in these lists can assist you or your maintenance staff in getting to know your equipment and how it functions. This is an important way to prevent disastrous malfunctions, since you will have an intimate knowledge of how your generators typically respond. However, staffing shortages or market changes can often result in these tasks being overlooked — putting your facility at risk during a power outage. For this reason, it is a good idea to reinforce in-house inspections with maintenance and repair from a reputable partner.

SafeCare — One Source for All Your Generator Needs

Not having a generator when the power goes out can be a frustrating — and even financial devastating — experience for any business that relies on electricity to make it through the day. However, it’s even more frustrating to have a generator on site, only to discover that it isn’t working when you need it.

At SafeCare, we provide full-spectrum services to ensure your generators are at the ready, whenever you need them. Whether you have one generator or an entire fleet, our team of experts provide repair, replacement, ongoing maintenance and even generator rental — everything you need for business continuity and peace of mind. Contact us today to get — and stay — prepared and powered up!