Having your disaster recovery plan in place is always a good thing. You know what you need to do, and everyone on the list has been notified of their responsibilities. Your backup generator is in place, fueled and ready, and your emergency fuel order has been placed. Everyone’s ready for action should the call come. But has anyone thought about what happens when you start up the generator? It works, right? Maybe. When was the last time anyone checked it? A standby generator may run as little as 26 hours in a year, depending on how many power outages cause you to use it. Well maintained, it can last from 20 to 30 years. But when you still want it to work when you need it, no matter how much or how little you use it.
There are a number of reasons why your generator may fail when you flip the switch, including:
• A dead battery
• Low fuel
• Bad fuel and/or sludge in the lines
• Low or no coolant
• Low or no oil, which can cause overheating, broken heads, cracked heads, and complete engine failure
• Electrical component damage
• Dried, cracked or otherwise bad belts
• Wear and tear that’s not repair
• Weather and/or pest damage
But the top reason for generator failures is not planning for regular maintenance.
Just like company fleet vehicles, and even your personal vehicle, your company’s generator needs to be checked and maintained regularly to ensure that it’s ready when you need it. Regular servicing will keep your generator operating at top efficiency for many years. Maintenance should be performed twice a year, or more if needed.
As part of your maintenance plan, you should include:
• Inspection, both interior and exterior
• Checking fluid levels, changing and/or topping off as needed
• Checking/changing filters (oil, air, fuel, etc.)
• Checking worn parts and upgrading what’s needed, including spark plugs, connections and cables
• Checking for any leaks
• Check indicators and control panels
• Load bank testing, along with regular testing and operation
These systems should also be regularly checked:
• Lubrication system
• Air system (cooling and combustion)
• Starting (batteries and charger)
• Transfer switch
Devising and committing to a regular maintenance plan will not only guarantee that your generator will be ready when you really need it, but will prolong the life of your investment. A generator maintenance plan will reduce the long-term costs by increasing its lifespan and reliability, as well as minimizing the need for bigger and more expensive repairs. Checking and inspecting your company’s generator weekly, monthly, biannually and annually will help keep it in good working condition. Need another good reason to regularly inspect your standby generator? In case you find yourself with a situation like this one (the kitten made it out just fine):
This blog post from ASNE has a comprehensive maintenance checklist for standby generators.
Plan your emergency fuel before you need it. Call us at 1-866-445-5508, email us at [email protected], or use our online contact form. Centrally located with strategic fuel reserves throughout the US, Specialty Fuel Services can deliver emergency fuel and equipment anywhere. Add us to your disaster recovery and business continuity plan to guarantee fresh fuel at We’re just a phone call away.