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Generator Overhauling, Cummins Generator Installation

Standby Generators: A Brief Guide On Maintenance Plans

Regardless of any industrial equipment type, they all will require a maintenance schedule to ensure they’re always in their best working condition.

Especially when it comes to generators – you will all the more have to keep the maintenance schedule in check. Once there is a generator failure, there will no longer be any power source to supply to the business. As such, generator overhauling may be needed to pinpoint the problem.

When your main generator has broken down, your standby generator has to step in and provide power instead. However, what if your generator is experiencing failure at the same time or is not even working anymore?

To help you ensure that such an incident does not occur – here’s a couple of guidelines you should follow when putting together a maintenance plan. 

Before we dive directly into the brief maintenance schedule, you should make sure to look out for these certain areas in your generator:

Fuel system

While the generator is still operating, get your staff or yourself to check the fuel supply lines, filters, return lines and fittings for abrasions or cracks. Also, ensure lines are not rubbing against anything which could lead to failure eventually.

Always remember that diesel is susceptible to deterioration and contamination over time. Which is why constant monitoring should always be done to make sure the stored fuel is used up before it starts degrading.

Other simple actions to take also include draining fuel filters and water from the fuel tank. Letting bacteria build up in diesel fuel can be an arising issue during warm climates.

Consult your engineer on how often you should be doing fuel polishing or testing. It is all the more crucial for you to check on your fuel’s status if the fuel has not been used up or replenished for about three to six months.

Lubrication system

Before you take a look at the engine oil level, make sure the engine has been turned off.

To get a much more accurate reading on the engine’s dipstick; you should wait approximately 10 minutes once the engine has been shut off. This will let the oil in upper parts of the engine flow back into the crankcase.

Now, just ensure you are using the same quality and brand of oil and fill up the engine until it reaches as close as possible to the “full” mark. Remove any used filters and oils to prevent any environmental damage or liability from occurring.

Coolant system

Before you proceed to do any other step, check the coolant level when the generator is turned off. Take out the radiator cap once the engine has cooled down and, add in coolant if necessary until the level reaches about 3/4 of the tank.

There is also a need to inspect the exterior of the radiator for obstructions and take out any foreign material or dirt using a soft cloth or brush. To clean the radiator, try to make use of a stream of water or low-pressure compressed air in the direct opposite direction of normal airflow.

Starting batteries and charger

Often, undercharged or weak starting batteries are also a leading cause of standby generator failures.

Testing the batteries: When batteries start to age, their internal resistance to the current flow will go up. And as simply checking the output voltage does determine the batteries’ ability; terminal voltage is the answer. Either the diagnostic test is done automatically, or a manual battery load tester has to be used.

Caring for batteries: Using a damp cloth, wipe off any dirt. And if corrosion is spotted near the terminals, take out the battery cables and wash the terminals. Don’t allow the solution to enter the battery cells and rinse the batteries with fresh and clean water once you’re done.

Check for the specific gravity: Using a battery hydrometer, check for the specific gravity of the electrolyte. You should make sure that it has a specific gravity of 1.260; it means the battery is fully charged. Otherwise, charge it if you notice the reading has fallen below 1.215.

Check the electrolyte level: Keep checking the level electrolyte for at least every 200 hours of operation. If it’s low, fill up the battery cells to the bottom of the filler neck using distilled water.

Creating a maintenance plan

Once you have decided on a maintenance plan, such as predictive maintenance (PdM) or preventive maintenance (PM) – it’s time you go into the basic tips as well. While the engineer may be able to check on your generator’s condition from time to time – you ultimately also have a part to play in maintaining your equipment.

Weekly

  • Inspect fluid levels: fuel, coolant and oil
  • Let the generator run and identify any irregular issues

Monthly

  • Inspect belts and hoses for any wear and tear
  • Take out any sediment and water from the fuel tank
  • Check the battery and charger

Bi-annually

  • Look out for oil leaks and check lubrication system connectors and hoses
  • Inspect areas like the drive belts, enclosure, coolant heater, exhaust pipe, exhaust system, muffler, air induction piping and connections, AC wiring and DC electrical system
  • Check the different areas of the battery such as – cables, connections, specific gravity and electrolyte level

Yearly

  • Change the oil and filter, fuel filter, air filter and spark plugs
  • Inspect the coolant concentration
  • Visually identify any problem areas and call in for servicing if needed
  • Conduct load testing to spot for any issues

The chances of a power outage, human error or fault in equipment occurring is always likely. And if you don’t take action before one of these happens – your business and staff are the ones who will end up suffering the consequences.

For instance, if you have previously gone for a Cummins generator installation, you should get the engineer who helped with the installation previously. They would know how to handle a Cummins generator repair and even suggest an appropriate maintenance plan to go along with it.