Helpful Tips for Home Standby Generator Maintenance

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Helpful Tips for Home Standby Generator Maintenance

Tropical Storm Isaias that hit New Jersey and the New York metro area in early August, hit hard. Over one million households were without power in our state and many households waited nearly a week for power to their homes to be restored.

Those with standby home generators fared well throughout the storm, since a standby generator does what its name implies—it stands by to generate electricity when the power goes out. For those homes, lights and air conditioning were on, and home appliances were running.

To ensure your home generator runs as expected during the next power outage, and to protect your investment, here are some reminders about generator maintenance before, during, and after a power outage:

  • Listen for the generator’s automatic weekly test; it will start up and exercise once a week on the specified day and time. Expect your unit to run for about 12 minutes. It will not run any electricity in your home unless there is a power outage.
    • If you do not hear the weekly test, check the indicator lights on the generator’s side compartment. Yellow indicates it requires maintenance and red means either that a fault has been detected or that the unit is switched to OFF. Contact the generator installer for service. You can reach Bloomfield Cooling, Heating & Electric at (973) 237-0505.
    • If you have a permanent schedule change that won’t allow you to hear the generator test, we can change the exercise time and day on your unit.
  • During an extended power outage, shut the generator off after it has been running continually for 24 hours and—this is important—check the generator’s oil level. Here is the series of steps to follow:
    • Unlock the top cover with your key and move the AUTO/OFF/MANUAL switch to the OFF position.
    • After a minimum of one hour (during which time the oil inside settles and cools), located the dipstick (orange or yellow in color with a T handle).
    • Remove the dipstick, wipe it with a clean cloth, and insert it back into the generator completely. Leave it there for five seconds.
    • Remove the dipstick again and you should now see how much oil remains in the generator. If the level reads more than half on the stick, do not add oil.
    • If the level reads below half, add oil to the chamber as needed, but sparingly (do not overfill the chamber). We recommend using full synthetic SW-30 or 10W-30 oil which is available at gas stations, supermarkets, auto parts store, and other retailers. A funnel is useful for doing this.
    • Wait five minutes for the oil to settle; repeat the level check steps to determine if you need to add more oil.
    • When the chamber is properly filled, turn the switch from OFF back to AUTO.

NOTE: Oil checks are only necessary after the home standby generator has been running for a solid 24 hours, not after or during the routine weekly exercises.

  • Winter weather tips: clear all snow and ice from the unit in the winter, clear a path to the generator after a snowstorm, and clean the snow away from the cabinet. If you use a snowblower on your property, be sure the snow drifts are now blown against the generator.

These routine measures are different from the annual maintenance that must be performed to keep your home standby generator running well for many years. Those scheduled inspections, performed by a certified technician, includes service on the unit’s critical systems: fuel, coolant, lubrication, air system, starting system, alternator, and transfer switch. If you have a home generator and it’s time for its annual inspection, call Bloomfield Cooling, Heating & Electric . . . and take advantage of our special offer. If you’re considering a new standby home generator installation, contact us to discuss your needs. We install high-quality Generac and Honeywell equipment.

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