Generators

In Florida it seems like hurricane season is every day. The rain never stops and the storms keep coming. Generators are your protection for when the power goes out suddenly and left you with a house full of people and a fridge full of food. Generators keep your home going leaving you and your family prepared for any disaster.

Tips for Using a Generator
1. Never operate a generator in or too close to your house.

Generator manufacturers warn you over and over about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Yet every year, people die from running their generators in their garage or too close to their house. The manufacturers arent kidding. You cant run your generator in your garage, even with the door open. And you cant run it under your eaves either.

2. Never “back feed“ power into your home.

The Internet is filled with articles explaining how to “back feed“ power into your house with a “dual male-ended“ extension cord. But that’s horrible advice and you shouldnt follow it. Back feeding is illegal and for good reason. It can kill family members, neighbors and power company linemen every year. If you really want to get rid of all those extension cords, pony up the few hundred bucks for a transfer switch. Then pay an electrician to install it. That’s the only safe alternative to multiple extension cords. Period.

3. Let the generator cool down before refilling.

Generator fuel tanks are always on top of the engine so they can “gravity-feed“ gas to the carburetor. But that setup can quickly turn into a disaster if you spill gas when refueling a hot generator. Think about it, if you spill fresh gas onto a hot engine and it ignites, you’ve got about 8 more gallons of gas sitting right above the fire. Talk about an inferno! It’s no wonder generators (and owners) go up in flames every year from that little mistake. Spilling is especially easy if you refill at night without a flashlight. We know you can go without power for a measly 15 minutes, so cool your heels while the sucker cools down.

4. Store and pour safely

Most local residential fire codes limit how much gasoline you can store in your home or attached garage (usually 10 gallons or less). So you may be tempted to buy one large gas can to cut down on refill runs. Dont. Because, at 6 lbs. per gallon, there’s no way you can safely hold and pour 60 lbs. of gas without spilling. Plus, most generator tanks dont hold that much, so you increase your chances of overfilling. Instead, buy two high-quality 5-gallon cans. While you’re at it, consider spending more for a high-quality steel gas can with a trigger control valve.

5. Run it on a level surface.

Many small generators have “splash“ lubrication systems with crankshaft “dippers“ that scoop up oil and splash it onto moving parts. That system works well if the unit is on level ground. But if you park the generator on a slope (usually more than 10 degrees), the dippers cant reach all the oil, and some engine parts run dry. That’s a recipe for catastrophic failure. So heed the manufacturer’s warnings and place your generator on a level surface. If you dont have a level spot, make one. That advice holds true even if you have a pressurized lubrication system.

6. Keep enough motor oil and filters on hand to get you through an extended outage.

Most new generators need their first oil change after just 25 hours. After that, you’ll have to dump the old stuff and refill every 50 or 60 hours. During extended outages, you can easily run your generator long enough to need an oil change. Dont count on finding the right oil filter for your particular generator after a major storm. Instead, buy extra filters and oil before the storm hits.

7. Limit cord length to prevent appliance damage.

Generators are loud, so most users park them as far away from the house as possible. That’s OK as long as you use a heavy-duty, 12-gauge, outdoor-rated extension cord. But even a 12-gauge cord has its limits. Never exceed a total length of 100 ft. from the generator to the appliance. The voltage drop on longer runs can cause premature appliance motor and compressor burnout.

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