11 Generator Maintenance Tips (Checklist Included)

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Discover the standard portable generator maintenance tips and our printable PDF to keep your machine in top performance.

Generator maintenance checklist

Do the things on this generator maintenance checklist in the right intervals to get the most out of your machine.

  1. Change generator oil
  2. Check for leaks
  3. Check generator fuel stores
  4. Track fuel freshness
  5. Empty gas tank for extended storage
  6. Do generator test runs
  7. Replace broken generator parts
  8. Clean or replace the generator air filter
  9. Clean and/or adjust your generator spark plug
  10. Store the generator in a cool, dry place
  11. Keep the electric start battery full

1. Change generator oil

Generator oil keeps your engine moving smoothly which helps avoid damage and improves efficiency.

However, as you use your generator, the engine oil gets used up. And even if you don’t use your generator, engine oil gets stale.

How often you should change generator oil depends on your usage conditions too.

However, changing your portable generator oil every 50 to 100 hours of operation or 6 to 12 months if this comes first is a good general rule.

For standby generators, this maintenance task is something to do every 100 to 200 hours of operation or every 1 to 2 years.

2. Check for leaks

Checking for leaks is a straightforward generator maintenance task you want to do before every use.

A quick look at where you stored the generator can sometimes prevent a lot of trouble.

3. Check generator fuel stores

Checking your generator fuel stores is an important point on the checklist since you need these to produce electricity.

This starts at the fuel inside of a gasoline or diesel generator but applies to a propane tank too.

The two main things to pay attention to are any leaks in your fuel stores and simply how much you still have left.

4. Track fuel freshness

Tracking the freshness of the generator fuel is another fuel-related maintenance task.

Keeping your fuel stores fresh is important since fuel types like gasoline can go bad.

Your generator will not function if the fuel is too stale. Old fuel can also clog up your generator carburetor.

5. Empty gas tank for extended storage

When storing your gasoline generator for longer than a month without using it you will need to add fuel stabilizer to your tank or just empty it entirely.

According to Champion, this can extend the gasoline’s lifespan for up to 1 year.

Emptying your generator gas tank entirely is the safer option but requires more time and attention.

6. Do generator test runs

Doing test runs with your generator to check things like its power should be part of your maintenance checklist too.

The recommendations for how often you want to test your generator vary from weekly to yearly.

So the more essential your generator is and the closer you get to storm season, the more it makes sense to do these test runs more frequently.

7. Replace broken generator parts

As you can expect replacing broken generator parts after you notice them is essential.

This generator maintenance task applies to extension cords, transfer switches, fuel tank lines, and other things too.

8. Clean or replace the generator air filter

Generator air filters prevent dust and debris from getting into the machine. When your air filter gets too dirty your generator will run suboptimally or not at all.

Your generator manual should tell you how and when to clean or replace the air filter of your specific machine.

9. Clean and/or adjust your generator spark plug

Maintaining your spark plug is important for making sure your generator starts during emergencies and other situations.

First of all, you want to clean your spark plug by taking the steps described in the generator manual.

Secondly, your generator spark plug will have a recommended gap size. You may have to carefully bend the side electrode to stay within the recommended range.

10. Store the generator in a cool, dry place

Since a generator should not get wet you want to store it in a dry place after completing the other maintenance tasks.

You want to follow other generator storage guidelines like keeping it in a cool location too.

11. Keep the electric start battery full

Electric and remote start generators use the power of a built-in battery instead of a recoil pull to start the machine.

However, you need to maintain the battery levels during extended storage without using the generator.

At least if you want to be able to start the machine at the push of a button.

There are many ways to charge a generator battery. The exact steps in this maintenance task can vary a lot from brand to brand and generator to generator.

Generator maintenance checklist pdf

Portable Generator Maintenance Checklist - Generator Decision

You can also print out our portable generator maintenance checklist pdf to keep track of what tasks you need to do.

How often should a generator be serviced?

A generator should be serviced with small maintenance tasks like checking oil and fuel levels before every use.

Maintenance tasks like an oil change should be done every 50 to 100 hours of operation or 6 to 12 months if this comes first for a portable generator.

Similarly, you should clean your generator air filter about every 50 hours of use or every 3 to 6 months.

In simpler words, you definitely want to check your generator manual to see what specific maintenance tasks it needs and when.

FAQ

What maintenance is needed on a generator?

Some examples of maintenance tasks that are needed on a generator are oil changes, leak checks, and tracking fuel stores.

How do you maintain a generator at home?

You maintain a generator at home by checking your user manual, getting the necessary equipment, and following a maintenance schedule.

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.