Commercial generators are there to help your business run smoothly. Don’t forget to return the favor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Generators can burn out without regularly maintained fluid, oil, and fuel levels.
  • Overload Signs may indicate the wrong-sized generator or other common problems.
  • The temperature of the local environment makes a functioning block heater important.
  • Regular cleaning of generator parts prevents impaired function and unit damage.

Knowing how commercial generators work provides an understanding of the unit’s engine, fuel type, control panels, and alternators. It’s vital to know the warning signs and who to call for help to maintain business operations and be legally compliant. Read on to learn more about generator maintenance from our power pros!

Schedule regular inspections

Pop quiz: When was the last time your generator was examined? Answering “Ummm…” means you’re failing the first task on our maintenance checklist. Have your generator inspected at least once a year, run it for 30 minutes a week to test it, and set a reminder for the next checkup.

Call the electrical professionals to check your unit and address issues before inspectors arrive (usually uninvited) to do the same. Local inspectors might fine you or even close your business if your generator isn’t up to code.

Minimize maintenance with savvy selection and load management

Businesses can proactively avoid potential maintenance issues by choosing the right generator based on factors like kilowatt capacity, the site’s square footage, and which unit safely fits the available space.

Preventative maintenance relies on defining critical vs. non-critical loads. Knowing the difference helps determine which functions businesses must maintain and which can wait. A generator handling only critical loads should require less maintenance than an overworked one.

Keep fluids safely topped up

You’ll soon be seeing smoke and hearing weird noises if you neglect coolants, water, oil, and fuel.  “We did put plenty of oil and fuel in that sucker, so we’re good, right?” It depends on how recently. Old oil and fuel degrade over time and cause generator damage.

Check oil and add more or replace it as required, but never fill this or any fluid to capacity. Overfilling sends excess oil/fuel/coolant elsewhere within the generator. Frequent filling could be a sign that your generator needs to be replaced rather than maintained if it’s consuming more fuel to do the same job.

Generator fuels are flammable and extremely hazardous if applied to a hot unit. Never add fuel when the generator’s running or hasn’t had enough time to cool down. Consider connecting your generator to a propane or gas utility line; you won’t have to perform as much manual fuel maintenance.

Recognize generator overload

Generator overloads have several causes. Sometimes, businesses use generators to power too many things. You may see the following red flags, which indicate your current unit is too small for the job, handling too many power demands, or running for too long:

  • Overheating (listen for excessive noise and overworked fans)
  • Poor performance when activated
  • Soot-filled, dark, smoky exhaust 
  • Tripped circuit breakers and complete shutdown

Overloaded generators can also result from exceeding wattage ratings, wiring shorts, or problems with magnetic polarity. Shut down your generator (if  legally allowed) when you notice any of these signs. This will let it cool down before electrical specialists arrive to identify and correct the problem. 

Busted block heaters

Block heaters keep generator coolants warm. Warm coolant sounds odd, but it helps keep generators working in cold climates where chilly liquids can become engine-clogging goop. Block heaters are also essential in warmer areas because they help reduce generator pistons and cylinder friction.

You may have to replace your block heater if you live in a cold climate and your generator engine is struggling, which might be a result of thick, underheated fuel. Electrical pros may notice a scuffed piston skirt in generators in warmer climates, which also means it’s time to fit a new block heater.

Clean machines mean less maintenance

We mentioned how overloaded generators can lead to sooty exhaust. There are plenty of other parts that need cleaning to keep your unit running smoothly. Dirty carburetors can clog your generator’s fuel supply, but this is an easy fix.

A professional can help you apply the right fuel treatment, which will flush out the gunk. They may spray a carburetor cleaner directly into the area while the unit is powered down and cooled off. Generator engines also require clean air circulation. Air filters do this, but will eventually fill up with dirt and other particulates. These filters are easy to find and inexpensive to replace. 

Generator fuel tanks can trigger many maintenance problems and require regular inspection. Carefully check the engine and related valves for fluid leaks when the generator is cool and powered down. Leaks pose fall and flammability hazards thatmay require professional repairs before other maintenance.

The tank can then be checked for excess pressure or sediment build-up. Excess pressure can cause oil filters to explode and sediment, which usually looks like clumps of dirty oil, can settle at the bottom of the tank and speed up generator degradation if it’s not cleaned out.

Contact UES with any generator questions

We don’t have the space to list every maintenance issue, but our expert team can diagnose and resolve any commercial generator problem to provide backup power. We’re licensed throughout Florida and offer free quotes on all commercial-generator projects. Contact us online or call 954-792-5444 to schedule an inspection (dial ext. 32 in an emergency!).