Preparing your generator for the storm season

Most people purchase a generator for the following reasons:

  1. As a power supply for camping or caravaning.
  2. As a back up power supply in the event of a power failure.

When not in use, most generators are left idle until needed. Unfortunately, it’s when you need to use them most, after you’ve lost power,  that they won’t start!

Most of the generators we book in for repair for failing to start have stale fuel in their carburettors.  The standard response from most customers is “I didn’t know fuel could go off”. Unfortunately, fuel does go stale. The shelf life of petrol depends on the octane rating of the fuel and the storage conditions it is kept in. Most petrol has a shelf life of between 3 months and a couple of years.  It also depends on how long the fuel you purchase at the petrol pump has been in storage for.  A simple test for determining if your fuel is stale is to smell it. Stale fuel will give off a sour odour.

For a more detailed article on what makes petrol go stale please read this article.

The second most common reason for generators failing to start is contamination of the petrol. The majority of contamination cases are from water.  This typically occurs where the generators are stored outside in the weather and rain.

Taking into account the above, what steps can you take to ensure your generator will start when you need it to?

  1. Ensure that you add a fuel stabiliser to the fuel you use in your generator.  In fact, it is good practice to use a fuel stabiliser in all the petrol you use for your mower, trimmer and other powered garden equipment. Fuel stabilisers can increase the shelf life of petrol for up to 2 years.
  2. Ensure you purchase a generator with a fuel tap.  Start the generator and turn the fuel tap off.  Run the generator in the idle position (if possible) until the generator runs out of fuel.  This will ensure the carburettor is drained of petrol. Most Honda inverter generators are not fitted with fuel taps.  Should your generator not have a fuel tap, it is a good idea to have an inline fuel tap fitted to allow you to run the generator out of fuel.
  3. Store your generator under cover and out of the weather.
  4. Store your fuel in clean containers with tight caps.  Plastic containers are preferable to steel containers which can rust.
  5. Keep your container nearly full to reduce exposure to the air.  Warning, do not overfill petrol containers as they can burst when the temperature increases.
  6. Store petrol in a cool dry place to reduce evaporation and oxidisation.
  7. Start your generator at least once a month to ensure it is working.





Return to Articles Home Page