Hurricane season had an ominous start this year, though nothing much has come of it, so far. Still….
So what about preps? Generators are a good start. You don’t want to wait until the last minute to find your generator won’t run.
My main backup generator is a diesel. Not much problem with diesel and I give it a monthly (more or less) exercise to keep up the battery and equalize the system batteries. Mom’s backup was a Generac natural gas-fired rig, perfect for old ladies. It self-exercised once a week. That’s a bit much, in my opinion. Most folks don’t have a natural gas or diesel generator and the typical gasoline generator can be a lot more fussy.
Mine is fairly typical, with a Honda engine and 6750 watts. It has been stored for a year, full of gas. It started on the first tug of the rope! Let’s look at why.
When I got the machine, it was given to me in non-running condition. Oil leaked out and it wouldn’t start. The oil leak was simply a loose drain plug and a Honda engine has low oil shutdown protection. Then there was the carburetor. The machine had been stored full of regular gas for years, with the fuel valve on. Modern gas is terrible for several reasons. It is ok for running, but not for sitting. The alcohol separates from the gas and causes corrosion. The gas slowly turns to syrup and eventually to a solid. The carburetor needed an overhaul.
Everything was cleaned up. New spark plug. Oil change. Crumbling foam air filter replaced. Good to go.
After the machine was running again, I put on a quieter muffler. The old one was louder than Spinal Tap cranked to 11. I made a cord to tie to the input of my Sunny Island inverter, test ran and then prepped for storage.
The tank was filled with alcohol-free marine gas. Sea Foam fuel stabilizer was added. It was cranked and then the fuel valve was turned off to drain the carburetor. On Hondas, there is a drain screw on the carb that you can use, too. That’s the way it was left. Leaving fuel in the tank is iffy, but this was the good stuff.
When the generator is in constant use, it will run fine on pretty much any gas you can find, as long as it is fresh. Just make sure that if you leave it filled, use only alcohol-free and an additive like Stabil or Sea Foam.
A Honda engine should start on the first or second pull if it is in good shape. Other engines usually are not quite that obliging, but if you feel chest pains coming on while trying to start your generator, it is probably time for a tuneup and maybe even a carb overhaul.
Running a generator for days on end can use a lot of gas that can be hard to find. Not only that, you need to change the oil every 25 or 50 hours. Running the generator on a battery backup power system can be super efficient. It will use a lot less gas, put fewer hours on the engine and let you sleep at night without that constant roar.
Get ready while the weather is calm. Store it completely full of gas to avoid condensation or completely empty to avoid the gas going stale. Leftover gas can be burned in your car. If you don’t have mechanical skills, take it to the shop early. Local shops, here, can take over 2 weeks to get to your engine during mowing season.