Should I Have My Generator Inspected?

July 20, 2020

The reason why you probably purchased a generator for your home is to have a backup power source if the electricity ever goes out. This means that the generator has to be ready to go in what will often be a surprise and unpredictable situation in Seattle, WA. There may never come a day when you need to use your generator, or it can be several months before you ever do. While the generator is sitting around, it could be losing battery power and gathering dust. So, you want to make sure that it remains in good shape even though it has not been used. Professionals like Brennan Electric in the Seattle area can inspect your home’s generator. Here are a few reasons why the inspection is necessary.

1. Battery

The most common reason why a generator fails to operate is battery failure. There could be loose connections to the battery, or the battery simply running out of juice. If sulfate accumulates on the battery plates, this harms it as well and prevents it from operating as intended. By scheduling a regular inspection, we take a look at the battery. We will test the battery for you, and if it needs to be cleaned up, we do so. Plus, we double-check all the connections. They may be loose when we arrive at our appointment. We will clean and tighten the connections because we want to make sure they stay that way after we leave.

2. Top Off the Coolant

The technology found in HVAC equipment, electric-powered equipment, and vehicles are very similar. Any time any of them over-heat, they shut themselves down. A home generator is no different. The mechanism that keeps it from over-heating is the coolant. This means that the coolant levels always have to be topped off to nearly full. During an inspection, we take a look at the coolant level. We fill it up, if necessary. If the power ever goes out in your area, there is no way to predict when it will come back on. You have to be sure that your generator will be able to run as long as needed. A full coolant level is one way to make that happen.

3. Check for Leaks

When it comes to electric equipment, there can never be leaks in it or around it. A leak from the unit will cause it to stop working eventually. If the coolant is leaking, for example, when the liquid is gone, the generator will overheat and stop working. During an inspection, we also check for fuel leaks. While you may not be able to spot a coolant leak, you can smell when the fuel is leaking. We take a look at why this is happening. It usually means that the fuel line is broken or that the fuel pump is not operating as intended.

We also look for oil leaks. If we see that oil is leaking, this is a symptom of a larger issue. That issue can be build up in the generator’s exhaust pipes, carbonization in the fuel injection tips, or faulty crankcase breathers that are releasing too much oil when the device is venting.

It is important to remember that an inspection is about keeping the generator in good shape. If you purchase a home generator, you made an investment in the machine. Therefore, it should operate as intended when you need it.

4. Control Settings

A generator is controlled by its settings. There are times during maintenance when someone accidentally changes the settings. During an inspection, we take a look at them to ensure that they are correct. When they are incorrect, the generator could shut down because it is no longer programmed correctly.

5. Empty Fuel Tank

Since a generator does not require electricity to operate, it requires a different power source. A generator uses fuel, so this means that the fuel tank must be full just like the coolant level. When the fuel and coolant levels are topped off, the generator is going to run longer than if they are half-way full. In Seattle, it rains often. A particularly forceful storm always has the capacity to knock down a power line. If this happens in one neighborhood, your city workers can probably get it back up and running in a timely manner. When the damage is widespread, however, it is going to take time. When this occurs, you are asked to be patient. Being patient is easier when you have a fully working generator powering your home at least for a couple of days.

During an inspection, we take a look at the fuel tank level. Additionally, when we test the unit, we are ensuring that the fuel is running in the right direction. Fuel bleeding back into the tank instead of into the engine can occur. This means the generator is going to think the fuel tank is empty, so it will prevent the generator from functioning correctly. When the fuel bleeds back into the tank instead of going to the engine, it is a symptom of a larger problem. The issue could be air in the injection mechanism or faulty check valves. Whatever the case may be, we run a set of diagnostic tests to pinpoint the problem. Then, we fix it.

6. Maintenance is Key

An inspection is a preventive service. Your investment is not going to serve its purpose if it is not well-maintained. While it makes sense to think that a generator that is not used is going to maintain it’s out of the box manufacturer’s settings and specification, it is not the case. Since the generator lives outside in the elements, it is experiencing them as well as catching any debris that floats around on a daily basis, especially when it rains.

Professionals like ourselves do make emergency service calls. The issue is that you do not want to get caught up in a storm of other emergency service calls for a generator. This means that you are going to have to wait in line. We work quickly, but you are still going to have to wait, which is not ideal. Instead, by scheduling the inspection in a timely manner before an emergency presents itself, you will be ready to go. This protects you, your home, and your family.

In order to prevent the need for an emergency generator service, keep up with regular maintenance appointments. This allows professionals to clean up the unit. It also allows them to top off the fluids. This is an opportunity to test the generator in a calm situation, too. During a routine visit, load banking is also tested. The professional can also test and check the unit against guidelines such as the NFPA 110.

7. Retrofit Industry Advanced Components

Technology continues to evolve, and so does the equipment such as generators. If you have an older model that can still do its job, our team can retrofit and apply any new measures that have been developed since your purchase. This gives you access to modern features.

To schedule an inspection for your generator, give us a call at Brennan Electric in Seattle to schedule an appointment. In addition to generator inspections, we also offer lighting installation, surge protection, and electrical repair services. We look forward to explaining all the ways we can help you with your indoor climate comfort needs.

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