Tips to Maintaining a Backup Diesel Generator During Wintertime
When it comes to commercial/industrial backup diesel generators for your business or facility, routine maintenance is key to ensure that the generator is ready to provide power during power loss during events of power outage. While routine maintenance on backup generators may be considered a standard within the industry, it is important to note that special care must be taken when performing generator maintenance during cold seasons such as Wintertime.
Though a lot of the maintenance process follows the standard protocol for routine maintenance, we also wanted to provide some tips and highlight items to keep in mind when conducting maintenance to keep your diesel generator ready to perform in colder weather when needed.
One of the most important items that we think should be examined is the block heater. Almost every generator has a block heater in some shape or form. A generator block heater will always keep your coolant and fluids, as well as the engine block at a nominal operating temperature to successfully start when needed. Ideally, you would also have a 50/50 mixture of glycol and water in your coolant that can help prevent the water in the engine from freezing.
Freeze plugs are usually installed inside the engine and are used to determine whether at some point, the engine had frozen and there was expansion due to temperature fluctuations. You can often determine if there were possible engine issues is whether the freeze plugs were displaced or missing altogether which could indicate that they were forced out.
Battery charges are a very simple item but play an important role in keeping the generator ready to run when needed. The sole purpose of a battery charger is to ensure that the generator battery stays charged at the right voltage and ready to perform when it’s needed. If the generator is sitting unused with plans for storage, be sure to switch the battery disconnect to ensure that power draw is cut from the battery to the unit. If your generator does not have a battery disconnect switch, then we highly recommend disconnecting the battery completely if you are not planning on using it. Prior to using the generator, be sure that the battery is meeting proper voltage, all connections are in place, including the battery charger.
Very briefly going over the basics, using a Winter grade coolant such as a 50/50 prediluted antifreeze coolant can go a long way in helping to maintain a backup generator during colder weather. Coolant is vital to help prevent a lot of issues such as the engine freezing, system freezing, and pipes from freezing.
Also be sure to test the coolant currently in your system to see whether it is up to par to perform under exposure and operation within cold environments. Sample test kits can be purchased at any local auto parts store. The coolant test kit will display the freezing point and boil over point. It is important to emphasize that coolant should not be taken from the coolant reservoir but would be taken from the radiator itself. Remember – do NOT take the sample or open the radiator cap while the engine is running or if it has been used and the engine is hot. Always remember to wait until the coolant and fluids have all cooled down after the engine has been shut off. Neglecting to follow this general rule can result in serious injury.
Two types of additives that we wanted to briefly discuss include fuel additives and oil additives. Fuel additives are very important to ensure that the diesel fuel does not gel or congeal when it gets cold outside and the same applies for oil additives and engine oil.
If you’re looking for more information or would like additional consultation regarding maintaining your diesel backup generator, feel free to reach out to us at Woodstock Power Company!
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