10 Mistakes to Avoid when Using a Home Generator
Following the proper steps for home generator usage and maintenance ensures that there is safe, dependable, and stable power if you experience power outages in your home.
Consistent and Reliable Power Means Proper Maintenance
Proper generator maintenance is critical to achieving a sense of security that it will operate in the next power failure, but the issue about home generators is that winging it is not a choice. Understanding how to maintain and operate a generator cannot be learned on the fly because it is far too easy to make errors that can destroy the unit or jeopardize one’s safety. When it comes to machine operation and maintenance, without a cautious approach, you are bound to make some relatively common mistakes.
Follow these tips to keep to keep your generator well running and ready to use in the case of a power outage.
Connecting to the Service Panel
Connecting a generator directly to a home’s service panel, or back feed can result in a very dangerous chance of electrical fire. When the power comes back on, residual energy can move up the line backward. Not only could this unlawful activity endanger you, but it may also endanger your neighbors and any service staff who might be exposed to the high voltage.
Instead, a qualified electrician can mount a manual transfer switch on any portable generator. This switch transfers the home’s power supply between the grid and the generator.
Operating the Generator in Enclosed Areas
It is not advisable to start a generator from the garage or anywhere near the house because the exhaust produces toxic carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It has no smell and is heavier than air. It slowly fills the room until the people inside suffocate.
The best place to use a generator is outdoors, in a dry environment away from open doors and windows. Generally, a distance of at least 25 feet is considered secure. Allow at least 5 feet of clearance all around the unit.
When you’re using a portable generator that’s been stored in a garage, never operate it there. A stationary generator should also be mounted in a suitable position by professionals.
Wrong Extension Cord
Generators require a 14-gauge outdoor grounded extension cord with GFCI functionality. Without it, electricity may flow in places it shouldn’t and cause hazards such as fire or electrocution. Bear in mind that old cords can be dangerous, and the length of the cord and the amperage of the load can also play a role in what the cord can actually handle. The general rule for running your generator safely without blowing a fuse, being electrocuted, or sparking a fire is to refer to the user manual.
Using Substandard Fuel
It might be appealing to save a few dollars by using less expensive fuel instead of premium, but doing so will pose a risk to the device and end up costing even more in the long run. Clogged injectors caused by polluted gas can promote microorganism growth and reduce generator production.
Old gas may have deteriorated if a generator has been idle for a few months. To prevent this, run the machine on a regular basis, drain the gas before using a stored generator, or add a fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel new. Check the gas lines for leakage on a regular basis if you use propane or natural gas to avoid an explosion and wasted fuel.
Running the Generator in the Elements
Never operate a generator in rainy weather to prevent destroying the inverter or being electrocuted. The dangers arise when water enters outlets or electrical panels, causing the frame to short circuit. Generators should be used on flat surfaces in a dry, open space, or under a generator cover (even though they technically work in rain, snow, or sleet).
Incorrectly Turning On And Off
To turn on and off a generator properly, most generators follow a set of simple steps. Plug in extension cords before starting a generator. Then plug in any additional loads to the extension cable. To switch off the generator, first, disconnect the loads from the cable, then disconnect the cord from the generator. Switch off the generator until all cords have been unplugged.
Check the user manual to ensure that the generator is switched on and off correctly to prevent damage or strain on the device.
Fueling up While Operating
It is best to wait until the generator is completely cool before adding fuel. Adding fuel while the generator’s motor is working, or even if it is switched off but still hot, can cause a fire and explosion. Also, stop topping off a generator’s gas tank when it is empty. A small splash of fuel landing on the spark plug or on the hot exhaust will immediately start a fire. As a result, before fueling the generator, make sure it is switched off and has had a chance to cool down.
Neglecting Routine Maintenance
Since generators are complex pieces of equipment, they require scheduled maintenance. Failure to obey manufacturer recommendations or fix minor issues can lead to problems in the long run. At best, there may be issues starting or the generator seizing up, and at worst, the device may collapse completely.
Checking and cleaning the oil and air filter, testing the batteries, and operating the generator at least monthly are all part of routine maintenance. During the colder months, generators must be used more often.
Hiring an Inexperienced Technician
When it comes to the maintenance and repair of a home generator, technical abilities are often needed. You would almost certainly need a specialized skill set and technical experience to mount, restore, or maintain the machine at any point during its lifetime. That is when a trained technician comes in handy.
It is prudent to carefully evaluate a technician’s skills and expertise by researching them, determining if they are Electric Generating Systems Association-certified, asking them questions, and reviewing their credentials.
Keeping Poor or No Records
It’s important to know how to use, service, and maintain a home generator, as well as what the machine can do for a house. This involves the amount of fuel required, how the power will be used, and when it will work. Understanding and keeping track of these items would help guarantee that there is still a consistent amount of gas and generator power. If only a few notes are kept, or worse, none at all, it may easily result in wasted fuel or other costly errors.