Many homeowners keep a portable electric generator on hand to be able to power their home or one or more of its critical components, such as the heating system or refrigerator, in the event of a power outage.
What Needs To Be Done?
Electrical generators need to be maintained properly and operated safely.
Why Do It?
Generators produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas, and can also be dangerous because they produce powerful voltage and use flammable fuels. Maintaining your portable generator and operating it according to the manufacturer's instructions can help to mitigate some of the safety risks.
It's a good idea to have a professional service your portable generator once a year. It's also important to check your product manual for the manufacturer's advice on maintenance you may need to perform between your yearly service. For example, your product manual likely has information as to the suggested frequency for checking your oil and air filter, cleaning the fuel tank and filter or checking the fuel line.
How To Do It:
The service to your generator should always be left to professionals. As stated above, generators' voltage, fuel and carbon monoxide can be dangerous.
The National Safety Council gives these tips for the safe operation of your generator.
Tip 1. Always read and follow the manufacturer's manual.
Every generator is slightly different; therefore, it's critical that you completely understand the manufacturer's instructions. This is critical to ensure safe operation of your portable generator.
Tip 2. Never run your portable generator in an enclosed space or near an open window.
Generators emit carbon monoxide, a deadly gas. Life-threatening amounts of carbon monoxide can quickly build up inside enclosed areas where a generator is operation. In addition, dangerous levels can be blown into an open window or open vent from outside. Always run your generator outside, far away from windows or vents, and never run it inside your home, garage or other enclosed space.
Tip 3. Use caution with the generator fuel.
Portable generators generally operate on gasoline, which is extremely flammable. Remember to always store gas in a safe place, in a safe container, away from the generator. When refueling the generator, allow it to cool down prior to adding fresh gasoline. If your generator sits idle for 30 or more days, you may need to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank.
Tip 4. Don't operate in wet conditions.
Your portable generator produces powerful electrical currents. To avoid the risk of electrocution, never operate it if it's wet or the surrounding area is wet. Protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow.
Tip 5. Never plug directly into a home electrical outlet.
This can cause a dangerous condition resulting in a fire. If you are connecting a generator to your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch to carry the electricity from the generator to your home.
Be certain to follow the above safety tips and have your generator professionally maintained on a yearly basis. But always defer to the manufacturer's instructions on generator service and maintenance.
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