Backup power generators
Also known as standby generators, can be lifesaving devices when the power goes out. But many homeowners and businesses learn when it’s too late that their generators fail. This is because emergency generators are used so infrequently that any problems might go undetected. This is particularly the case with older generators. Just as with any machine, there is a higher mechanical failure risk as equipment ages.
Houstonians have relied on backup emergency generators for years during severe weather events. But as many have discovered, generators can fail, particularly when they’re not maintained properly. Unfortunately, it’s also likely to happen when you need it the most.
Texas is home to many tropical weather events. But it was a massive winter storm in February of 2021 that made homeowners and business owners realize the importance of a functioning backup emergency generator. Many Texans were without power for days, and many died due to the extreme cold. Businesses also were impacted and had to close temporarily.
For homeowners and businesses who thought they were prepared for such an event by having an emergency generator, many were surprised to discover that their generators were not in working order.
If you have a backup power generator, it’s crucial to have an experienced electrician perform routine maintenance to keep it working in tip-top shape.
A regular inspection, particularly during seasons where the risk of needing your generator is greater, is also prudent. A monthly assessment, for instance, is likely to detect any problems your generator might have. This often involves running the generator for 30 minutes by triggering the transfer switch.
Here are some of the detectable problems that an inspection is likely to uncover:
When a generator becomes too hot, it will shut off. That’s why it’s vital that your emergency generator has sufficient coolant. Otherwise, it may not run for an adequate amount of time, or it may not start up at all when the regular power goes out.
The most common cause of a standby generator failure is a bad battery. Generator batteries often fail because of a buildup of sulfates or a loose connection. An inspection will easily detect either of these conditions.
Fuel leaks typically leave evidence due to their strong odor. It might not even take an inspection to discover this type of problem. But if it’s a small leak, an inspection will likely detect the problem. If the leak is found when the generator is running, a broken fuel line or fuel pump is likely the culprit. Leaking fuel while your generator is running can be a dangerous situation.
Errors in the Controls
Sometimes the controls are left in the wrong setting after testing or maintenance, especially when someone unqualified performs the task. This can cause a generator to fail. Anytime maintenance of any type is done on a generator, the proper resetting procedure must be done. Otherwise, it risks the integrity of the generator. That’s why it’s so crucial that a qualified technician or electrician does any generator maintenance or inspection.
An oil leak in a generator is typically caused by a condition called wet stacking. This occurs when fuel, oil, and other liquids have built up in the exhaust pipes. When fuel injection tips become carbonized, or crankcase breathers release too much oil when venting, an oil leak can occur.
Empty Fuel Tank
An inspection should uncover an empty fuel tank. That’s why it’s crucial to check fuel levels when testing the generator each month. Also, sometimes fuel gauges become stuck or show erroneous levels, which can cause also an empty fuel tank. Just as your car won’t run without gas, your generator won’t operate without fuel.
Sometimes, fuel will bleed back into the fuel tank of the generator rather than going through the engine as it should. If this happens, a faulty check valve or air going into the injection system could be the cause. When either of these happens, it’s as if the generator is out of fuel. It won’t come on or start when it’s supposed to.
How Easy is it to Fix a Backup Power Generator Failure?
The more relevant question is how easy is it to fix a backup power generator when it fails. When you think about it, we most often need emergency power during wide-scale events that impact much of the population at the same time.
Chances are if you detect a problem during a widespread storm, you probably won’t be the only person in the same situation.
Think about what happens during the summer when everyone’s air conditioner goes on the blink at the same time. You call your AC repair guy, and he’s booked solid for days, right when you need him.
So, the first issue is that you may not be able to get the help you need when you need it. In the meantime, your freezer full of food is defrosting. You have no heat or air conditioner to keep your family comfortable. And you’re just plain ole in the dark.
And if you remember, back in February of 2021, everyone was in the same boat. Roads were impassable, and no one would have been able to make it to you anyway at that time.
It’s also important to understand that there isn’t always a quick fix for a backup power generator problem, even in a best-case scenario. Sometimes a part will need to be ordered or something different can cause a delay.
So, the best way to prevent a catastrophic power failure is to schedule frequent, routine inspections and maintain your backup generator regularly.
Schedule an Appointment to Have Your Backup Power Generator Inspected Today
Have you recently purchased a backup power generator and want to keep it operating smoothly as long as possible? Is your emergency generator older, and you’re concerned about it coming on when you need it? Maybe you don’t even have a standby generator, but you’re considering one.
In any case, Illuminations Lighting Design is here to help. Our team of certified electricians is here to help you keep the lights on. Don’t wait until you have an electrical outage or disruption to schedule an appointment.
We have years of electrical and backup power generator experience serving homeowners throughout much of the Texas region. We’re happy to serve you!
Give us a call at (713) 863-1133 to get on our schedule before the unexpected happens. Be prepared today, so you don’t have to worry about tomorrow.