Preparing and Servicing your Generator for Winter

Winter is always cold, even if it isn’t snowing. The cold air and winter elements can make it difficult for some electrical/fuel powered systems to perform properly. Water can freeze and will often prevent some systems from starting altogether.

When speaking strictly about generators, it’s important to look after them during the winter months. In order to save them from becoming damaged and not working again, we like to follow one simple rule; Never wait until it’s zero degrees and the power goes out before you have your generator serviced. If you do, you may just find that your generator will not work and you’ll be stuck without power and heat for the foreseeable future.

Due to the fact that generators (especially new generators) are not typically used unless the electricity goes off, it’s important for you to inspect, tune up and are fully prepared to use your generator before a power outage occurs.

Winter Preparations

There are a few steps you can take to prepare your generator for winter, which we have taken the time to outline below.

The main steps to prepare your generators for winter include:

  • Think About Fuel – If your generator is in storage and you don’t plan to use it within 30 days, you should stabilise the gas. It’s important to add the stabiliser according to package directions and then run it for a few minutes, to help circulate the solution through the carburettor. Winter is also a very good time to rotate your fuel supply; pour the gas from your stored fuel into the car and then fill up the gas cans with fresh fuel, again adding the fuel stabiliser for storage.
  • Change The Oil – Make sure your generator has enough oil to keep it running smoothly and improve your engine’s lifespan. Many generators shut down automatically, to protect the engine if the level gets too low. To keep your backup generator protected and ready to go for a harsh winter storm or home emergency, check the oil level whenever you add fuel by referencing the dipstick and filling to the full market. We recommend keeping a few quarts of oil on hand in case of emergencies.
  • Inspect Replaceable Parts – In addition to checking the oil, you should check out the carburettor, air filter, fuel filter and spark plug regularly, according to the owner’s manual. Maintain your generator according to the maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
  • Obtain A Transfer Switch – Obtaining a manual transfer switch is the best way to use a generator for emergency use, as it directly connects to your home’s electrical system to power furnaces, refrigerators, pumps and more. When it is engaged, a manual transfer switch isolates the generator power from the utility lines (this ensures the generator is not overloaded and that utility line workers are protected). A dedicated cable connects your generator to the transfer switch through an inlet box. This method of preparing your generator for winter helps to protect the integrity of your home’s electrical wiring, safeguards the generator and eliminates running multiple extension cords from the generator into the house.
  • Know How, Where And With What – We strongly suggest that you keep a flashlight handy during winter, so that you can find the way to your generator and learn to start, shut off and adjust it with ease. This will ensure that you’re familiar with how you will operate it should there ever be a power outage. Running your backup power source occasionally will not only help you learn how to use it, but will also keep the engine well-lubricated for when it is eventually needed.

One Last Thought

You should also think about where you put your generator when you don’t need to use it. Do not run a generator inside your home, garage, crawlspaces, basements, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off. Be sure to place the unit outside and far from doors, windows, vents and other openings which could allow carbon monoxide to come inside or be drawn into occupied spaces. Point the exhaust away from occupied spaces and you will be looking at a far safer environment to live or work in.

If you need help preparing your generator for winter, if you need it servicing or even fixing, call upon Bellwood Rewinds to assist you moving forward.