If you have purchased a mobile generator for construction, backup, or other on-site needs, it’s important to your business operations this critical piece of equipment is ready when needed, and to your long-term ROI that it lasts as long as possible.
To help ensure that will be the case, we recommend starting a regular maintenance schedule, and that you pay particular attention to the following suggested maintenance issues.
General Preventative Maintenance Guidelines
Some basic rules of thumb when planning regular maintenance include:
- Supply a reserve of oil and filters. Like most engines, generators require regular oil and filter changes to keep the engine running smoothly. Most manufacturers recommend changing the filter at every other oil change. Unlike road vehicle engines, generator use is measured hourly, and during an outage or other prolonged use, the oil and filters may need to be changed multiple times. It’s critical a good supply of both oil and filters be kept on hand, especially if the generator is used for critical backup power during emergency or adverse situations. Casual use scenarios should still maintain a supply for several oil changes.
- Test the batteries. A common cause of standby power system failures are weak or undercharged starting batteries. Keep your batteries fully charged and well-maintained to avoid any hitches when starting up your generator. Batteries must also be cleaned, and the gravity and electrolyte levels checked frequently. Adding a battery check and test to your monthly maintenance schedule will help ensure your mobile generator is ready to go when needed.
- Your generator needs regular exercise. Just like you, your mobile generator needs a regular exercise program to help keep it in top performance shape. Running the engine at least 30 minutes per month (loaded to no less than one-third of the nameplate rating) keeps the engine parts lubricated and thwarts oxidation of electrical contacts, uses up fuel before it deteriorates, and helps provide reliable start-ups.
- Fuel quality and long-term storage: it’s important to use clean fuel from a reliable source. For most generators, it’s best not to store gasoline in the engine or carburetor for long periods of time. Drain after use and replace with fresh gasoline before its next use. Fuel stabilizer can also be added if you are unable to drain the engine and don’t expect to use all the gas in the generator within a month or so. Diesel fuel can be kept in the generator longer than gasoline, but should still be tested periodically. A large percentage of emergency generator engine failures are fuel related, and dirty fuel not only causes engine failure, but also contributes to Greenhouse gases by releasing more soot and smoke into the atmosphere.
- Don’t forget trailer maintenance. Ensure tires have appropriate inflation pressure, tighten wheel lug nets every few months, and regularly check tires, wheel bearings, seals, springs, suspension parts and hangers, for any signs of corrosion, breakage or wear.
General Preventative Maintenance Items for a Diesel Generator Set
A more detailed suggested maintenance schedule might include the following items at the recommended intervals. Use this as a guide to plot your own schedule with your specific needs.
Method and Action to Take
|Key Maintenance Items||Visual||Record||Change||Drain||Test||Frequency|
|Coolant heater and level||X||X||Daily|
|Check and record oil and fuel level||X||X||Daily|
|Examine charge-air piping||X||Daily|
|Drain water from tank & filter||X||X||Weekly|
|Check air cleaner (clean if required)||X||Weekly|
|Check battery charger||X||Weekly|
|Drain water and sediment from fuel tank||X||Weekly|
|Check coolant concentration||X||X||Monthly|
|Check drive belt tension||X||Monthly|
|Check starting batteries||X||X||X||Monthly|
|Exercise motor (30 min.)||X||Monthly|
|Check air cleaner element||X||X||6 months|
|Change fuel, oil and air filters||X||X||6 months|
|Examine radiator hoses||X||6 months|
|Generator insulation resistance||X||Annually|
|Flush and clean cooling system||X||Annually|
|Rupture basin leak detect switch||X||X||Annually|
With routine maintenance and prevention, including these tips, we are confident you will extend the life of your generator and will be able to count on more reliable, fuel-efficient operation.
Southwest Products Team
Southwest Products offers several complete series of tough, long-running diesel generators designed for just about any work site or harsh climate. Whether you need standby power for your business, or towable generators for your job sites or events, SWP’s commercial generators consistently come through for your business. Contact us to start a discussion about your on-site power needs.