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Consumer Reports: Storm-prep your generator

Consumer Reports says there are simple steps to keep your generator up and running if a storm hits. (Photo credit: Consumer Reports)

If you’ve spent money on a portable gasoline generator, the last thing you want is trouble starting it when a storm hits. Consumer Reports says there are simple steps to keep it up and running.

Always have enough fuel. You’ll need more than just what the generator’s tank can hold. Figure on 12-20 gallons per day to keep it running 24/7. Add a fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel fresh. If your gas is old, your generator might be difficult to start, won’t run properly or might not run at all. This also eliminates the need to drain your tank when you’re finished using your generator. To save fuel, run the generator for several hours to get your essentials running and then turn it off.

Next, pay attention to the oil. Many portable generators automatically shut off if the engine oil gets too low. So, check the oil before you start your generator to avoid disruptions in your power or worse, damaging your generator. If the oil is low, add only enough to bring the level to the “full” mark.

If you want to go the extra mile, check the filters. Change paper air filters if they’re visibly dirty. For foam filters, clean them in soapy water, let dry and re-oil according to the manufacturer's instructions. Many generators have a filter cup at the fuel tank opening. If it’s dirty, tap out any solid bits and wipe with a clean rag.

Consumer Reports says your generator needs exercise. Once a month, start it up and let it run for 20 minutes. This burns off moisture, lubricates the engine and recharges the battery. And remember … avoid carbon monoxide exposure: never run your generator indoors - not even in your garage, near open windows or doors.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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