The maintenance you should routinely perform on standby generators

A backup generator is crucial to most business applications (as well as to many homeowners) in the event of even the shortest interruption in utility power. If you lose power and your generator does not start, you are subject to unscheduled downtime. In order to give your generator the best chance at running as expected, you should be performing maintenance on a regular schedule. In this article we will discuss a proper generator maintenance schedule and tell you who should be performing that maintenance to keep your generator in peak condition.


At install, your technician should program your generator to exercise for at least 15-30 minutes a week to ensure that it will easily start up in the event of an emergency. This weekly test can be done with no load, but is more effective if you are able to transfer the full load to your generator that would be transferred in the event of an emergency. A weekly full load exercise test is crucial to verify that your transfer switch is in working condition and to help prevent wet stacking in diesel generators. This exercise period should be scheduled at a time when you will be near the generator so you are able to verify that all is running as it should. Check for any fluid leaks, smoke, strange noises; or most importantly, a failure to run.

Every Two Weeks

Every other week you should verify the oil and coolant levels. Your technician should show you how to go about this during install. If any fluid levels are low, fill them to the appropriate levels and make sure that there are no corresponding leaks that could have caused the low fluid levels.

Every Six Months

You should be scheduling two maintenance appointments a year with a qualified generator technician. At the first appointment of the year your technician should be changing the oil and oil filter, replacing the fuel filter, and performing a detailed inspection of your generator to ensure it is in peak condition.

At the second appointment of the year, your technician should be performing a 2-4 hour load bank test depending on the specific needs of your generator, as well as do another detailed inspection. The load bank test is to ensure that your generator runs adequately under a full load, and will get rid of any wet stacking that may have occurred during your weekly no-load exercise periods. Wet stacking is the buildup of carbon deposits and un-burned fuel in your generators exhaust system that can cause it to smoke and run sub-optimally. These biannual inspections will help you to identify any small issues with your generator before they become larger, more costly issues.

Why Do You Need a Qualified Technician?

A well-educated and experienced generator technician will have dealt with many of the different and complex issues that can occur with different gensets. Over many years of dealing with generators, techs become attuned to the small changes in the ways your generator runs that may signal a larger problem is looming on the horizon. They will follow a structured inspection and maintenance routine to ensure that every area of your genset is checked; and should always return your equipment back to the proper settings after performing maintenance so you should have no problems transferring power in an emergency.

Well qualified technicians will have gone through extensive schooling, as well as routine training to keep them up to date on the latest technology. Qualified techs will have access to technology and information straight from your genset manufacturer to ensure that they are taking the best care of your equipment possible.

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  1. Hello Damien,
    Our standby whole house Generac generator is only 6 months old. It has only ran automatically for a few minutes every Friday since installed.
    Can we postpone maintenance checkup till later?
    Will appreciate your comments very much.
    God bless you,

    • Ada, generator maintenance is very similar to a car. Being proactive about your preventative maintenance makes sure that problems don’t develop and become costly. If you have only had the weekly exercise so far, we would recommend that you at least have an inspection at the 6 month mark to verify that everything is functioning correctly, then having the service performed at the year mark.


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