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What Maintenance Does a Standby Generator Need?

Having the power go out in your home is never an enjoyable time. This is especially true if your home is prone to frequent power losses or if when you do receive a power loss it lasts for a day or more. Having no power in your home is not only an inconvenience but it can also cause all of the food in your refrigerator/freezer to spoil as well as cause the temperature in your home to rise or fall to dangerous levels.

A few years back my family and I lived on twenty acres way out in the country about an hour south of Kansas City. I loved how peaceful it was out there but it was prone to power losses during spring storms and winter blizzards. When the power did go out it was always a while before it was restored. This was just a fact of life when it came to living that far out from the city. As a solution to this problem we started looking into purchasing a standby generator.

Standby systems can provide your whole home with power the very moment your power goes out. It is all automated as well so the worst that you’ll see is a flicker of the lights for a moment when the power goes out and then the standby system kicks on and power is restored. These systems are by far the best solution when it comes powering your home during a power loss.

Over the past few weeks we have written numerous articles on these standby generators. Today we are going to take a look at exactly what kind of maintenance can be expected on your standby generator. Let’s take a look.

Maintenance Needs

A standby generator system can be very expensive to purchase and install. These systems can range from eight-thousand dollars all the way up to twenty-thousand dollars. They are a large investment for your home or business. It only makes sense that you want to protect this investment and insure that it will last for a very long time. This is why regular maintenance of your generator is essential. If your generator is taken care of correctly you can expect to see a lifespan of between ten-thousand to thirty-thousand hours of operating time. This would equate to around twenty to thirty year lifespan.

Now a standby generator is very similar to any other machine that you use commonly that has an engine. Think of your lawn mower, your car, or even your ATV. All of these have engines and all of these engines need routine maintenance. Generators are no different. Their engine is what creates the mechanical force that in turn is transferred to the alternator where the electrical energy is created.

Just like your vehicle, the more you use your generator the more maintenance you are going to need. This is why the maintenance plan for your system must be tailored towards you and your usage. There is not a one size fits all solution here. It is up to you to document how often your generator is used and make the determinations for maintenance based off of those operating times. The most important thing to watch and maintain on your generator is oil levels. All engines need adequate oil and all engines need their oil changed routinely. Just by doing this simple task you will add years to your generator’s lifespan.

Along with checking and changing the oil you should also be reviewing the air filter and fuel filters to ensure they are clean and if they need to be replaced. Again, this is a fairly simple task but it can make a significant difference in your generator’s performance.

Lastly, it is recommended that a load test for your generator is done weekly, or at least monthly. These tests involve your generator starting up with little or no load and then shutting off after a few minutes. Visually inspect the unit during these tests. Were there any alarms or indicators that went off? Did you see any leaks anywhere on the unit?  If so, then these are all red flags that should be looked after immediately.

What I mentioned above are just some of the basic maintenance needs on your generator. These are by no means everything that has to be done. The problem is with the more advanced needs your generator can get a bit more specific and it may make sense for you to have a professional review the system. Some of these maintenance needs are ensuring that the battery is charging and is working as intended, checking the battery cables and electrolyte levels, visually inspecting the drive belts, reviewing the coolant lines, and changing the spark plugs. For more specific details I recommend reading this article from on the topic.


Each generator is different and requires different needs. This is why it is also recommended to read and review your owner’s manual so that you are not missing any major steps in the maintenance process.  In many cases the original equipment manufacturer you bought the generator from is your best bet when it comes for maintenance questions and needs. Chances are these OEMS also offer their own maintenance protection plan which can cost anywhere between four-hundred to eight-hundred dollars a year. This plan will allow for scheduled maintenance visits to your property by a trained professional. They will do a visual inspection on your unit as well as changing the oil and filters if needed.

Having a professional review your system multiple times pear year is your best bet when it comes to generator maintenance. As we stated earlier in this article, standby generators are a large investment for your home and your family. It only makes sense to spend that little bit more every year so that you have a professional reviewing your needs. This will also help your case as well if your generator is still under warranty. By having the dealer catching and diagnosing problems chances are they will fall under the warranty policy.

Thanks for reading folks and I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

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