Generator Care Generator Maintenance

Generator Safety Checklist: User Should Inspect before Run

We can neither control the weather nor can we prevent power outages. However, the best thing we can do is stay prepared and ready for when the disaster hits. One way of doing so is by keeping your generator ready and understanding the necessary generator safety measures for safe generator operation.

This post is a generator safety checklist that you can use next time you’re operating your unit. Some of the safety measures I mentioned here are common to many, but most genset owners take them for granted. It’d be best if you followed everything in here to keep yourself, your family, and neighbors safe when operating a generator.

Generator Placement

NEVER and I mean NEVER run your generator indoors. It’s a MUST you place it in a properly ventilated spot outdoors, an area that cannot allow the generator fumes to accumulate.

Your generator should be 1.5ft away from your house, 5ft from any entrance, including windows and air vents. The nearest power company meter should be at least 3.5ft and block/brick foundation 1.5ft.

AVOID places the generator in a breezeway, a shrub-, trees, or vegetation-blocked recesses or areas affected by snowdrifts.

NEVER run your generator inside an attached garage, even with a wide-open door.

ALWAYS ensure you direct generator fumes away from all near buildings’ windows, doors, or any wall openings on the building. Direct them 5ft away to a direction that is clear of a building. It’d be best to install a CO detector to alarm you when the CO reaches dangerous levels in your home.

ALWAYS place your generator in a dry and non-moisture or –flooding susceptible spot. Also, avoid standing on the water when handling the generator. You can cover it with a generator cover/tent or use an enclosure to keep it dry.

Fuel Handling

NEVER refuel your generator from a container when it’s hot. Ensure the engine is off and its surface temperature is below the gasoline ignition temperature.

AVOID fueling your generator indoors unless the room has all the required fire protection features, there are no heat sources in the room, and it’s adequately ventilated as per the building code.

NEVER smoke a cigarette when fueling a generator. The fires from the smoke can ignite the fuel vapors and cause spontaneous ignition.

NEVER allow a child to handle the fuel – keep it away from the children and in well-labeled storage can or container.

AVOID spilling oil. If unavoidable, clean the minor spills after fueling or refueling using a paper towel, sawdust, or a rug. Don’t forget to discard these cleanup materials inside a safer disposal container – AVOID the garbage disposals drains, toilets and sewers.

AVOID leaving the fuel tank cap open after fueling or refueling. Gasoline is highly volatile with a low flashpoint. When you leave the lid open, the fuel vapor will escape and create a fire hazard.

When fueling the generator, fill it to 90% full. The 10% is to allow room for fuel expansion, especially on a hot day.

ALWAYS store your fuel in approved fuel containers only, those designed to handle gasoline, and mark them according to their content and the date you put the fuel in them. That will help you use the older fuel first and also avoid mixing stale fuel.

ALWAYS store your generator fuel away from any heat or flame sources, including cigarette lighter, match, running or hot generator, water heater, and more.

Generator Operation

ALWAYS check the fuel and engine oil levels before starting the generator. Ensure you have enough oil when the generator is on a level surface. Don’t slant it in any way.

ALWAYS plug in the generator or appliance to the unit after the generator engine starts and stabilizes. It will help avoid the genset from losing the necessary residue magnetism needed when starting the engine. The same applies when shutting it down – unplug the unit and any plugged-in appliances before shutting it off.

ALWAYS use the proper extension cords. When using the 50A and 30A receptacles or 20A outlets, ensure the extension cord is rated to support the current to avoid overheating or reduced output. And AVOID using worn-out and torn extension cords.

NEVER hook up your generator directly to any of the home outlets. Plugin the appliances directly to the genset or use a transfer switch or interlock device to connect it through the service panel. Hooking the generator to an outlet or the service panel without a transfer switch can potentially feed back the mains electrical distribution in your home. This endangers the electrical workers restoring the power or anyone working on the line.

AVOID joining two extension cords together to extend the length. Consider getting one long extension cord. The more the joints, the more the risk of electric shock and electricity leak.

AVOID overloading your generator by powering essential appliances only that their total wattage need is below what the genset can deliver. Use our wattage calculator to determine if your unit can handle your devices to avoid overloading.

Always ground your generator unless your generator manufacturer explicitly states that it’s already grounded or uses a frame bonded grounding.

KEEP a fire extinguisher around your home if you have a generator. Also, avoid water-based extinguishers – you MUST never use them on your generator.

ALWAYS operate your generator as per the instructions in the owner’s manual.

Generator Maintenance

NEVER work on a hot generator. Allow the engine to cool down when performing any maintenance like oil refill or anything requiring you to touch the generator.

ALWAYS remove the spark plug when handling the generator fuel or opening the engine to avoid accidental ignition.

Generator Storage

ALWAYS store your generator away from any flammable materials, including fuel.

ALWAYS wipe away any fuel or oil on the generator before placing it in the storage.

AVOID keeping it in the basement or a garage attached to your home, especially with fuel. You can empty it and keep the fuel away from the room.

ALWAYS keep the generator surrounding clear – check the user manual for the safe radius for your generator.

ALWAYS keep your genset in a spot you can easily access during an emergency. It needs to be clean of any sharp objects or something that could injure you when retrieving the unit.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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