For many of us, the arrival of spring means spring cleaning. When dealing with critical power equipment, spring maintenance is especially important to make sure your generator systems are in top working order, and is a great time to see how your unit fared over the winter. Any time of the year has potential for utility outages and the 2017 Eaton Blackout Tracker has shown that power outages in the US are on the rise. In fact, last year there were over 3,526 noted outages with an average outage duration of 81 minutes. To keep your facility online and running smoothly, here are a few tips to keep your emergency power in great shape.
- Preventative Maintenance This is always the number one thing that needs to be done for your generator health. Both natural gas and diesel powered generators have similar maintenance recommendations. At minimum, there should be a major and a minor preventative generator maintenance service performed annually. If the generator unit has not been serviced before or has not been serviced in a long time, a major preventative maintenance service (or PM) should be performed first to ensure that the unit works properly. preventative maintenance includes several points of inspection, including:
- General Inspection
- Lubrication Services
- Cooling System Service
- Fuel System Service
- Service and Test of Batteries
- Loadbank or regular engine exercise
For any PM inspection, it is crucial to follow manufacturer recommendations, as well as National Fire Protection Association NFPA 110 guidelines to know which maintenance plan fits your generator best.
- Load Bank Testing A full maintenance schedule for most generators should also include load bank testing. This involves using a resistive load bank (a heater/resistor) to produce a load on the generator, other than from the building source. The load is increased until it is near capacity of the customer’s load requirements. This not only assures
the generator unit is reliable under load conditions, but for diesel generators, it also prevents wet stacking, a dangerous condition (and fire hazard) where carbon builds up in the exhaust and restricts the generator’s capacity. The NFPA 110 guidelines can also provide guidelines to how often a unit should be load bank tested.
Regularly Sampling Oil and Coolant Most manufacturers recommend that oil and coolant checks be performed for generators on an annual basis. An oil check on your generator can help identify contaminants that could lead to larger future issues with operation. Testing the coolant can help identify contaminants, and also can identify if the coolant is degrading and needs to be changed.
- Check for Corrosion After a long winter, generators need to be checked for corrosion, both from salt, as well as from the coolant system. In a coastal community, salt corrosion can come from the air. In addition, it is important to check old fluids (such as anti-freeze) in diesel generators. Fluids in generators that are not regularly changed can lead to corrosion of the radiator. It is also important to check a generator’s fuel filters to make sure they are clear. A fuel filter that is not regularly checked can become corroded or plugged.
- Animal Nests This is a check that not many people think of! Depending on how often your generator is tested, small furry or feathered friends may take refuge from cold weather inside your generator. Checking all exhaust pipes, connectors and fans will assure that you keep both your generator running and animals safe.
Are you ready to do some spring cleaning for your generator, but you still aren’t sure where to begin? Click here to contact QPS for a free site survey by a technical expert to assess your generator and maintenance needs.