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How to Winterize your Generator

We all know the pain of power outage, especially if it occurs in winter. The extreme weather changes and snow and ice accumulations create perfect conditions for a blackout. Luckily, you can avoid all the hassle if you have a generator on standby to warm and light your home until regular power supply resumes. 

However, your generator may have trouble revving up in the extreme weather. As such, you’ll need to make sure that your generator is winterized to ensure that it will start without issues and that it will run smoothly in the cold weather.  Here are ways you can prepare your generator for winter; 

Visual Inspection

The first measure you should perform is to undertake a complete visual check before you store your generator for winter. Inspect all components while noting parts that have experienced excessive wear and tear. Also, make a list of items that need to be replaced, such as cracked or broken hoses before the winter weather hits. 

Check the battery

Your battery may not perform as expected in cold temperatures, and it may also have a short lifespan. Check the battery to ensure that it is in perfect condition, and if it is running low, consider replacing it. A battery that is not fully charged or dead is not recommended for cold weather operation. And because batteries tend to lose a lot of power in severe conditions, it will be a good idea to get one with higher cold-cranking amps to enable you to survive through the winter months.

 Change engine oil and oil filters  

For winter and long-term storage in general, make sure to change the engine oil and filters to prevent acid accumulation that can corrode the engine. Also, it is always a good idea to use the recommended oil and manufacturer’s original parts for the filters. Generic replacements are often made from inferior materials, which could lead to expensive failures.  

You should also check the coolant level and ensure that the fuel tank is full, usually with winter-grade oil, if you are going to let it sit for more than 30 days.  A full fuel tank helps to prevent your fuel system from rusting as well as keeping moisture off the fuel lines.

Stabilize the fuel supply

When any fuel sits in a fuel tank for an extended period, it will deteriorate in one way or another. For example, if you are using gasoline, it will start to dry off, leaving a residue that may clog the carburetor, fuel pump, or even fuel filter, thus interfering with their performance.  

Diesel, on the other hand, may gel in cold conditions, and this will also affect generator performance.  This is why you should add a fuel stabilizer to help preserve the fuel as it sits in storage. You’ll need to perform the same procedure if you have a dual fuel generator.

However, the stabilizer should be added together with the fuel as once the fuel begins to deteriorate, the stabilizer will not be able to reverse the situation. Instead, you will need to disassemble your generator and clean or replace the affected parts.  

Run your generator periodically

You’ll need to run your generator regularly during extended periods of inaction during before and during winter. This will ensure that your generator will turn on automatically when needed and operate well in cold temperatures. The recommended running time is about 10 minutes once or twice per week with load on it to ensure that it is ready to go. 

Clear all around your generator 

Generators use the vents on the exterior cabinet to ventilate properly. If those vents are blocked by ice, snow, or any other debris, it will interfere with ventilation. It could also lead to overheating and a couple of other issues. As such, ensure to clear the surrounding of any snow throughout the winter. It is also recommended that you clear the path to the generator inlet plug for quick access. 

Get the cold weather kit

A cold weather kit provides one the easiest way to winterize your generator. The kit is specific to your generator and keeps the key components warm and fully operational during the extreme weather conditions. Generally, the cold weather kit includes;

Controlled battery warmers

As we mentioned, batteries do not perform efficiently in cold temperatures. The controlled battery warmer helps to keep the battery warm even in temperatures below 4 °C. The best thing about these battery warmers is that you don’t have to monitor them; once they are set, you are ready to go.

A crank case heater

The oil in your generators serves as a slippery lubricant that allows your generator to run smoothly in warm temperatures. However, in winter, the oil can coagulate, and this can prevent movement. The crank case heater helps to prevent oil from solidifying in freezing temperatures keeping your generator up and running at all times.  Also, most manufacturers recommend that you replace the standard 10W-30 oil with 5W-30 when using the heater. 

Storage considerations

It is always a good idea to store your generator in a climate-controlled space such as in a garage. However, if this is not possible, you should try to store your generator in some kind of a shelter to protect it from harsh winter elements. Check around and underneath your generator for signs of fuel or oil leaks and act accordingly. You can also take your generator for a tune-up to ensure it will be ready for use during winter or when you may need it. Also, if the generator is exposed to salt, dirt, and sand during winter months, you’ll need to clean it off before storing it.

Conclusion

Winterizing your generator is the best thing you can do to keep it running through winter months and extend the lifespan for years to come. Most of these tasks are easy and only take a few minutes and will save yourself time and give you peace of mind knowing your home will be safe during the brutal cold weather season. The best bet is always to maintain your generator in both cold and warm temperatures to avoid hitches when then goes off unexpectedly. 

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