Preventative Maintenance for Home Generators

by : John Stafford



Preventive maintenance is one of the most valuable things you can do to protect your investment in a diesel generator. The concept of preventive maintenance is to catch problems, faults and leaks before they happen. It is patterned after the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!" The specific maintenance program has been in effect for over thirty-four years in the United States Department of Defense. If the age of the equipment was any indication of its effectiveness then the United States Armed forces have been doing fabulously. It is a system that works and keeps your equipment working long beyond its predicted life expiration.

Preventative maintenance is based on before, during and after operation checks. It is also founded on daily, weekly and monthly checks, which are conducted with liturgical frequency and accuracy. This article will cover the general maintenance checks for the diesel generator being used for your home power source.

Before Operation Checks:
Step one, walk around your generator unit, specifically looking for any tell tale oil or fuel leaks on, beneath or around it. Record and repair any such Class III leaks immediately. Check the unit for any cracked, broken, loose or damaged parts. Check the oil and add to it as required according to you owners manual. Check the grounding cable and rod that they are tight and secure. Check on the air restriction meter if it is in the red then the air filter needs cleaning. If it still indicates red after cleaning then it needs to be replaced immediately. The generator is deadlined until this part is replaced and the air restriction meter is operating in the green. Check the air filter for any cracks, leaks, looseness, rough running or noise. Drain the day tank of water and sediment into a catch basin by means of the petcock. The tank will blow clear air when free of water and sediment. Drain water and sediment from strainer, primary and secondary filters until the fuel runs clear. Insure that a catch basin collects all oil and sediment. This will be recycled.

During Operation Checks:

Check the following generator controls and instruments to insure that they work within safe and acceptable limits. The battery indicator will be in the yellow when charging, green when fully charged and in the RED position when non-operational or unavailable. Check the frequency meter for the proper reading. It should read 60 hertz with a full load on the generator. Check on the percent rate current meter; it should not exceed 100% load. The voltmeter should read no more than 120v for America or 240v for Europe and Great Britain. The oil gauge should read between 20 to 45 PSI. The fuel gauge should read "FULL". Check the acoustical suppression kit for any loose or damaged parts and repair if required.

After Operations Checks:

Drain the day tank. Drain water and sediment from strainer, primary and secondary fuel filters. Check the acoustical suppression kit for any loose or damaged parts and repair if required. Fuel the tank after operation. Insure that there is no open flame, live wire, source of spark or smoking during refueling operations.

Weekly Operations Checks:

Check the electrolyte level of the batteries. The proper level is 3/8 inch above the lead plates.

Monthly Operations Checks:

Drain the fuel tank of water and sediment.

Follow these steps regularly and your generators will operate for a long time without worry.