Broken out into weekly, monthly, and yearly actionable steps, this guide to commercial generator maintenance can help you understand the major components of your machinery. Industrial generators require the same care as other equipment, including a regular preventive maintenance schedule. Some components require the knowledge of experienced technicians, like those at Blanchard Energy. However, this guide to industrial generator maintenance also includes maintenance tasks you can do yourself.
Blanchard Energy has a team of experts to help maintain your generators and ensure reliable energy. We back our energy solutions with exceptional service to support your operations regardless of industry.
The Importance of Generator Maintenance
Consistent power is critical for many industries, from hospitals and construction sites to data centers and manufacturers. You rely on your generator to kick in when a power outage occurs, giving you a sense of security that work will continue. This great sense of security requires a dedicated maintenance schedule. Without it, the generator you rely on may not be as reliable as you think.
Whether you run your industrial generator as prime power or standby for when power outages occur, you can’t underestimate the importance of generator maintenance. A regular maintenance schedule is important for the following reasons:
Keeps the generator running optimally
Boosts reliability, efficiency, and safety levels
Helps avoid massive breakdowns in the future
Increases the life span of your industrial generator
With a schedule, you can prioritize which parts of the generator to check at which times. As you begin maintenance, keep a log of work, especially when making repairs or replacements. A maintenance log allows other technicians and engineers to understand what’s happening and helps you see issues that build over time.
Critical Generator Components to Maintain
An industrial generator maintenance checklist will help you look for any major or minor issues. We will help you maintain each aspect of a generator, from checking battery levels and fluids to running load tests and other assessments.
Because generators have many moving parts to keep your operations running as prime or standby power, you will want to focus on several critical components, including:
Fuel: The fuel system maintains the flow of fuel to the engine, whether gas or diesel. Check for leaks and blockages to avoid combustible reactions.
Cooling: Avoid overheating and proper ventilation by maintaining the cooling and exhaust systems.
Lubrication: Lubricants help industrial generators operate smoothly by reducing friction. Components in the engine and the alternator bearing require regular lubrication and frequent replacement to avoid contamination.
Alternator: The alternator converts mechanical energy to electrical energy, which is the core component of an industrial generator. Look for alternator issues like high rotation speeds, broken coils, and damaged brushes.
Battery: Without a charged battery free of corrosion, the generator may have trouble starting. Keep the battery charged and ready to go.
Engine: By combusting fuel, the engine generates mechanical energy. Poor performance can affect the generator’s output if the conversion ratio falls.
Voltage regulator: The voltage regulator regulates the power output of a generator. Without it operating properly, you will experience irregular output.
Other critical components of an industrial generator to maintain include:
Ensure you’re familiar with all the working parts of a generator so you can correctly identify critical components.
Commercial Generator Maintenance Checklist
You can perform many parts of a generator maintenance checklist on your own. However, for the more technical inspections like running a full load test, you should rely on the professionals. Your warranty may require trained technicians to complete these inspections. If you’re looking for the right people, you can count on Blanchard Energy.
Whether you have a diesel or gas-powered industrial generator, maintenance cycles are similar. Check your unit’s OEM maintenance manual for specifications.
General Inspections with Each Use
Each time you use a generator, you want to inspect several things before starting the engine.
Test the battery
Rely on a manual start
Inspect for leaks and wear
Look at the intake and exhaust
Remove dirt, debris, and other contaminants
With general inspection comes cleanliness and looking for the more obvious issues. Check that there are no loose parts, leaks, corrosion, or damage.
Maintenance When Needed
While you should do some items on your checklist regularly, other maintenance tasks are only necessary when components reach their limit. As-needed maintenance includes:
Replacing worn parts
Cleaning the generator
Lubricating operating parts
Changing air and fuel filters
Topping up fluids, including coolant, oil, and fuel
When topping up fluids, wait for the generator to settle and cool if it’s been running so the oil drains back down.
Weekly Generator Maintenance Checklist
Each week, include these tasks in your schedule.
Check the fluid levels
Run the generator with no load
Place it in automatic startup mode
Ensure the circuit breaker is closed
Drain any water from filters and fuel tank
A key part of owning a generator is running it when you don’t need it to ensure everything runs smoothly. As it’s running, check the exhaust system, looking at the manifold, muffler, and exhaust pipe. Inspect the unit for leaks or overheating, and listen for odd noises and misfiring, smoke, or fluctuations in power. Checking the control panel and warning lights will also give you an idea of how the generator is operating.
Monthly Commercial Generator Maintenance
Monthly maintenance inspections are more intense than weekly tasks. Each month, you’ll need to inspect the generator and conduct a few additional tests.
Conduct a load test
Maintain fluid levels
Exhaust the water trap
Check the radiator hose
Examine the block heater
Look at the cooling system
Inspect the charging voltage
Record running hours and kilowatts
Inspect the battery cables and battery levels
Clean off corrosion and dirt from battery terminals and other areas
When topping up the cooling fluid, ensure it’s the correct concentration. Some generators require a mix of antifreeze and water. The battery is also a significant component you want to examine at least once monthly. Battery failure is common without proper maintenance, so check battery levels and corrosion.
Bi-Annual Generator Maintenance Schedule
In some maintenance schedules, bi-annual inspections are included with annual checks. Depending on your industrial generator, environment, use and other factors, you can determine when the following inspections are necessary:
Inspect drive belts
Clean air cleaner units
Scan air induction piping
Check fan belt tension and wear
If your unit is inside a closure, you will also want to check it. Remove obstacles and debris, ensuring enough airflow to prevent the generator from overheating in this process.
Annual inspections are more detailed and include one of the most critical aspects of maintaining a generator — performing a load test. Here’s what maintenance tasks you should perform annually:
Change the oil
Replace the filters
Change the spark plugs
Test the transfer switch
Flush the cooling system
Wipe down the switchboard
Inspect the air intake system
Check clamps, nuts, and bolts
Check the crankcase breather
Perform a functional test with a load
Clean the alternator and connections
Conduct a full inspection of the electrical system, including both AC and DC wiring
The more you use an industrial generator, the more often you may have to conduct these inspections. Your work environment also plays a role. More frequent inspections are necessary if you operate in more severe weather, like extreme temperatures, dust, or humidity.
Make sure to turn off all power switches when inspecting the transfer switch. Sometimes, you may have to coordinate this with a planned power outage to ensure optimal safety measures. Additionally, alternators are often overlooked during the maintenance process. It’s best not to rely on visual inspections but to feel if it’s overheating from a buildup of dirt around the windings. You will also want to check the unit for moisture. Heat, dirt, and moisture can quickly reduce power output levels.
Finally, conducting a load test once a year will show how the generator runs with a full load, ensuring your operations can rely on its power.
Annual tests and inspections are more challenging than a simple oil check, so the generator is more likely to experience problems if you miss one. This is when you can rely on the professionals.
Types of Cat® Commercial Generators
Cat® generators range in size, complexity, power output and fuel type to support your exact requirements. While generators can power anything from small businesses to hospital complexes and telecommunications buildings, you need to find a solution that matches your specifications.
We offer flexible financial plans for new Cat generators and deliver well-maintained used generators, so you can choose the option that best fits your needs. Our technicians also provide expert repair services and maintenance for your industrial generators. If you don’t have in-house technicians or want the technique of a skilled expert to help maintain your unit, you can rely on us for generator maintenance and inspections.
Contact Blanchard Energy for Your Generator Maintenance Needs
When you need professional generator maintenance, call us at 844.252.6242 or contact a Blanchard Energy representative online. You can also find a location near you to come in for one-on-one support. We recommend licensed technicians maintain your commercial generator because they are trained to work with specific models and follow guidelines accordingly. Our team can inspect and certify your generator for the next year. We also offer free quotes and 24-hour emergency repair services.