Backup generator maintenance question


Hi Readers,
I live in New York State and just bought a brand new Briggs&Stratton 5500W generator to be used in the rare event of emergency backup (i.e. ice storm and no power for days). I've yet to add oil or gasoline, but I have the containers ready and am comfortable doing it by flashlight if needed. I would like to do as little maintenance as possible on the generator (within reason) without jeapordizing it. What's better for the engine: leave it dry and empty until needed (maybe months or years!), or add oil and gas (and gas stabilizer) and run every couple of months? It's kept under a tarp in the garage, but the garage does get humid during wet weather.
All advice greatly appreciated.
Regards, -Tony
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Fire it up and USE IT (even if to power a dummy load right next to a working "shore-power" outlet) a few times before the warranty expires.
Thereafter, every 4-6 months, put a quart of gas into it and run it until it quits.
Those with ANY sense don't ignore a spare tire, simply hoping it will remain fully inflated until needed, if ever. They CHECK it occasionally. Do the same with your new generator.
--
:)
JR

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Jim Redelfs wrote:

Hi, Worth remembering Mr. Murphy's law, LOL!
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Jim Redelfs wrote:

We could start a pool. How long does everybody think it will last? Will the OP get even a single "live" use out of it?
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Jim Redelfs wrote:

I'll second this advice except maybe just run for a few minutes every couple of months. If yours is like mine, they recommend a first oil change after 5 hours running. Also note, I believe the oil that comes with it is 30 weight which should not be used below ~40 degrees. You can use lighter or multigrade oil but keep a check on level. Frank
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I keep mine full of gas and stabilizer and run it for 10 minutes every month. Every 6 months I change the gas. That is optional, but the longer you keep the gas the harder it gets to start. It has seen me through 3 major outages over 6 years.
But, I also hedge. I found a nice used generator for about a third of what it was worth, and keep that dry with oil in the cylinder. I could make a nice little profit by selling it, but the moment I do...
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Put oil in it, preferably Mobile 1 synthetic or equiv.
Hang a tag and a pencil on a string on the generator where you can note the fuel fill date and each test run date.
Fill the fuel tank full (minimize air space for condensation) with gas with Sta-Bil added.
Run the generator under load (a portable 1,500W heater is sufficient) for about 30 min each month. At the end of the 30 min unplug the load and after a couple minutes turn off the fuel valve. Let the generator run the remaining few minutes with no load to cool off and then run the carb. dry so it won't gum up. Top off the fuel as needed to keep the tank full. Note the test date on the service tag.
Every 12 months, drain the generator tank into a gas can and put the gas in your car to use it up (the Sta-Bil insures it's perfectly fine). Refill the generator tank with fresh gas and Sta-Bil. Note the fuel change date on your service tag.
Unless you have reliable gas sources during an outage (you'll use 3/4-1 gal per hour of run time) you should keep a couple 5 gal gas cans full of gas with Sta-Bil as well and keep them on the same annual rotation schedule as the generators tank.
Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't, and it helps insure the generator will be ready to go when you need it.
Pete C.
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Hi Pete,
Which generator did you go with? I've had several estimates that swung at the extremes: low and high. Pete C. wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

There is no choice in the matter! As Pete C. said, if you don't run it occasionally _under_ load, it will eventually lose its' residual magnetism. If that happens, when you really need the generator, it won't put out any power (even though the engine starts and runs), then you'll be back in here trying to find out how to flash the generator field winding. Just starting the generator and running it without a load it is _not_ sufficient.
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What's the time factor? My generator has sit as long as two years, and powers up just fine.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

It's rather unpredictable and varies with the quality of the generator. Besides the magnetic field issues, running monthly under load also helps to drive accumulated moisture out of the generator windings, another good thing. It also recoats the engine interior with oil as well helping prevent rust and / or corrosion depending on the surface and preventing the rings and valves from sticking.
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As to brands of motor oil, please don't be cheap. I like Castrol, because with my last truck, that was the only brand that quieted the rod knock. I was using 20-w-50, but you should use 10-w-30 in your generator.
The others on the list have given you excellent advice about running it every couple months. In my case, my generator sits as long as two years between runs. I know; not good. My last run was when a couple friends in Buffalo lost power, during the snow storm in October. I went there to run their furnace.
In the box with the generator, I have also a quart of oil, and a spray can of ether. Usually when I go to start the motor, it doesn't want to start. A squirt of ether on the paper air filter runs the motor for a second. Do this three or four times, and the motor runs on gas. From personal experience, never take out the spark plug and spray ether into the spark plug hole. Dries out the cylinder wall, and then the generator is useless.
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