Thursday, April 15, 2021 Detailed Auto Topics
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Many folks have asked for our recommendations for storing their portable generators, after storm season ends. We hope the following general recommendations will be of help and of use the next time the generator is needed.

  • There are two schools of thought, with regards to fuel in the generator. The first is to drain all fuel out of the system. Fuel left in the system will degrade and can cause varnish buildup and other problems. The best way to drain the system is to allow it to "run out of fuel." Simply do not refill when you realize storage time is near and let the generator run, until it runs out of fuel. If the carburetor has a removable bowl, remove and dry the bowl.

  • The second school of thought is to fill the tank of the generator. This can lessen the chances of having seals and gaskets dry out, but precautions must be taken. First, fuel stabilizer must be added. This requires fresh fuel to be in the system, as stabilizer can only protect fresh fuel. Stabilizer cannot regenerate old fuel. It is best to completely fill the tank with stabilized fuel. It is also wise to start the generator and allow it to run at this time.  Running will allow the stabilizer to go through the entire system. Also advisable is to start the generator at least once a month and then refuel with stabilized fuel after letting it run for 20 to 30 minutes.  This will normally give the best results with the least risk of damage.

  • Change the engine oil and fill with the recommended viscosity before storing. Let the engine run until warm before changing, to remove the most contaminants. Wipe the fill plug area clean to prevent dirt from entering the engine.

  • Remove the spark plug and inspect. If the plug is worn or fouled, replace it with a new spark plug. While the plug is out, add about one teaspoon of high detergent oil to the cylinder, through the spark plug hole. While the spark plug is still out, crank the engine a few times to distribute the oil and replace the spark plug. This will help clean and protect the cylinder.

  • Wipe the outside of the motor and generator clean and cover it. Generators should be stored out of the weather, but never in the house. A few old socks can be used to hold moth balls. These socks should be placed under the cover and at the four corners of the generator. This will help prevent rodents from entering and chewing on wiring.

  • Remember, most wear to engines occur because of dirt. Air filters should be checked and replaced frequently. Be certain the air filter is completely seated and don’t try to clean a dirty air filter. Dirty fuel is also a major source of contamination. All fuel should be strained or filtered before adding to the generator. Also be certain to keep the fuel tank area clean and wipe off the cap before opening.

  • Left over fuel should be used and not stored. Buy fresh fuel when the generator is to be put back into service.

If these steps were followed before storing, re-starting the generator should be very simple.  If not, and it will not start, try these steps.

  • Remove all fuel from the system and replace it with fresh fuel. 

  • Remove the spark plug and try replacing it with a fresh plug.

  • While the spark plug is out, try cranking the generator several times.  This can sometimes help clear a flooded engine.

  • Test the engine for spark by placing the plug, connected to the plug wire on the engine block.  Crank the engine and see if a spark jumps the plug gap.  If not, check the "kill-wire" closely.  Rodents sometimes chew on these during storage, causing a no-start.  If not, ignition coils often fail on small engines.

  • If you attempt to use starting fluid, use extreme caution.  Engine damage and burns can easily result.

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