Let’s face it, power outages are not only an inconvenience for the average person, they can be very costly for a business and even deadly for care facilities and hospitals. That is why homeowners, businesses, apartment complexes, hospitals, colleges, and many other organizations spend a lot of money purchasing emergency power systems to ensure that they will have electric power should the power grid fail.
But these emergency power systems are not infallible! You cannot just install them and walk away with the false sense of security that they will work when you need them. Without proper maintenance, these units will fail and leave you without power when you need it the most!
Common Sources of Failure
The most common failures that we see in our generator service business are:
- Battery failure – If the battery fails, the generator will not start. Batteries fail due to poor connections, corrosion on the battery terminals, age, and lack of charge.
- Block heater issues – The block/coolant heater of the generator keeps the engine block at operating temperature which allows the generator to ramp up to full load in seconds. If the block heater has failed and the coolant is below operating temperature, the engine may not start.
- Fuel issues – Among other contaminants, diesel tanks can become fouled by water or become corrupted by algae (which feeds off the diesel fuel). These fuel contaminants will cause the generator to fail to start because of substandard fuel or clogged fuel filters.
- Oil – Low engine oil can prevent your engine from starting. Also, engine oil can get acid build up over time which can cause excessive engine wear. In addition, water, fuel, and soot deposits can contaminate engine oil.
- Coolant – Low coolant can cause engines to shut down on high temperature. Engine coolant does deteriorate over time and use which can also cause over heating issues.
- Clogged DPF – If a generator has diesel particulate filtering (DPF) installed and these are not properly maintained, they can become clogged which prevents the generator from starting.
- Sensor failure – There are quite a few sensors on power generation equipment and many of these sensors can fail and this can prevent the generator from starting.
- Equipment not left in “auto” mode – this is a common mistake, not equipment failure, but happens more often than you think!
How Can You Mitigate these Risks
So, how can you avoid the potential cost to your organization of an emergency generator failure?
The best way to avoid a costly failure is actually very simple – get a regular generator inspection by a qualified generator technician! Depending on the criticality of your application; quarterly, semi-annual, or annual inspections should be performed.
During these inspections, a generator technician will visit your facility and complete a multi-point inspection on your generator. They will make recommendations for any issues they find that would put your system at risk. Depending on the issues that are identified, they may fix them at that time or order parts and come back for a second visit.
The technician should also do a test run of the generator using a load bank. They will start at minimum load and then slowly ramp up to full load. They will be doing generator readings and other tests through this process to confirm proper generator functionality.
Take action now and schedule an inspection to ensure that your generator is ready for the inevitable power grid failures and avoid costly downtime!