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Staying Ahead of the Storm: Preparing Your Generator for Unexpected Outages

Staying Ahead of the Storm: Preparing Your Generator for Unexpected Outages


As we are in the midst of storm season, and winter weather is just around the corner, ensuring your home is prepared for unexpected outages is of the utmost importance. If you own a portable or automatic standby generator, or are considering purchasing one, we wish to remind you that enjoying the comfort of backup power requires preparing your unit for operation before the next outage occurs. Follow these steps to ensure the quality performance of your backup power products throughout the year:

Preparation Tips for Portable Generators


Always follow the maintenance recommendations provided in each product’s owner’s manual. Refer to your manual to verify the duration of your unit’s break-in period and follow these tasks to ensure long-term operation thereafter:

Every Season or 100 Hours of Operation

• Change oil and replace oil filter*

• Clean spark arrestor

*Change once a month when operating under heavy load or in high temperatures

Every Season or 200 Hours of Operation

• Replace spark plug

• Service air cleaner

Monthly (electric start models only)

• Charge battery for no longer than 48 hours continuously

If you do not intend on using your generator for more than 30 days, follow the long-term storage instructions provided in the owner’s manual. To locate a product’s documentation online, use its model or serial number for searching purposes here.



First and foremost, when a portable generator is needed in an emergency, be sure to take the unit outside and place it no closer than five feet from the nearest window, wall opening or structure. As portable generators produce carbon monoxide emissions, failure to keep the unit at a safe distance can cause severe health issues. For more information on safely using your generator outside, watch this helpful video from the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association.

After safely placing a portable generator away from the home, homeowners should then add fuel and start the engine prior to running extension cords and connecting their desired loads. While many portable generators run on gasoline, certain models are designed to operate on liquid propane. Ensure your gasoline is fresh and your LP tanks are properly filled before attempting product startup. For homeowners who would prefer to limit time spent without power when outages occur, utilizing a manual transfer switch can safely provide power from a portable generator to select loads in your home’s electrical panel to backup pre-determined loads. To ensure that you are able to acquire the ideal products for your home’s configuration and local code requirements, contact an independent authorized dealer in your local area.


Preparation Tips for Automatic Standby Generators


Similar to portable generators, automatic standby generators periodically require maintenance to help ensure long-term performance and extend the life of the generator. When the unit is running continuously, check the enclosure’s louvers for dirt and debris. Any shrubs or tall grasses that have grown within three (3) feet of the intake and discharge louvers on the sides of the enclosure should be removed, and any debris (dirt, grass clippings, etc.) that has accumulated inside the enclosure should be cleared out. Lines and connection points should also be checked for fuel or oil leaks before each use. Report any leaks immediately to your local service rep or fuel line provider.

Automatic standby generator owners should also check the engine’s oil level after 24 hours of continuous operation. Refer to the product’s owner’s manual to ensure you are utilizing the appropriate oil type for your local climate. Also, it is important to note that while most automatic standby generators feature a low oil pressure shutdown system that prevents catastrophic engine damage due to low oil, users should not rely on this defense mechanism as an indicator of when oil maintenance is required.

As for periodic maintenance requirements, following these steps will help to ensure a long product life and optimal operation when outages occur:

Yearly/Every 200 Hours of Operation

• Check battery condition, electrolyte level and state of charge

• Change oil and replace oil filter

Every four (4) years/400 Hours of Operation

• Replace air filter

• Re-gap spark plugs**

• Inspect and adjust valve clearance

**Replace spark plugs if pitted or fouled

If performing any of these tasks seems intimidating, rest assured—Generac’s independent authorized dealers are capable of providing product maintenance on an annual or bi-annual basis, and many complete these services at affordable rates. To locate an independent authorized dealer near you to inquire about product servicing, use Generac’s online dealer locator.



When properly prepared for operation, Generac’s automatic standby generators require minimal owner interaction when an outage occurs. The generator continuously monitors local utility service and starts up automatically when an outage is detected. No pull-start requirements. No connecting extension cords. No time getting wet in the rain or snow. Just relax and wait for the generator to startup, which will restore power to your home until local utility service returns.

For questions about product maintenance, contact Generac directly at 888-GENERAC (436-3722).
For more outage preparation tips, click here.

To refer to product documentation online, use the model or serial number of your personal unit for searching purposes in our online manual search.