The world depends on complex infrastructure. We seldom appreciate how great that dependence is until it goes offline. If this happens in the middle of winter, it is frequently impossible to do anything except sit tight and wait for the lights to come back on again.
Many people who go through these episodes resolve to be better prepared the next time. This often involves purchasing a standby generator. The big problem with this solution is that most people expect their new generators to simply sit there for years and then faithfully fire up when they are needed. This often leads to unpleasant surprises.
Common Generator Problems
In general, generator problems fall into two basic categories. First, there are those instances when the generator itself won’t start. Since it isn’t a good idea to have a generator running inside the house, they have to stay outside. The middle of a northern winter can create starting problems for your generator due to issues like congealed lubrication oil or ice buildup inside the unit.
Some people also make the mistake of assuming that the gas they put in the tank three years ago is still perfectly fine. Yet the volatile additives that make engines easy to start can evaporate over time. Condensation can build up a layer of water hidden underneath the gas you see on top. The gas itself can eventually decay into uselessness. It can also evaporate over time so that the tank you filled up some time ago is now bone dry even though it has never been run.
The second set of problems comes when a generator starts but doesn’t put out any electricity. Since all modern generators are alternators instead of generators, they require an outside source of electricity before they can energize the coils and produce power inside the unit. This initial jolt of electricity comes from onboard capacitors which store up energy. Over time, they can bleed down to zero and you end up with a generator that can’t be of any help to you.
Wiring problems are also common. Corrosion in switches is not unknown. This can stop generators from automatically turning on when the main power goes off. Improper wiring can either prevent power from flowing or be so overloaded as to represent a severe fire hazard. It can also damage appliances that are plugged into an incorrectly wired unit.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
For these reasons and more, it is always a good idea to have your generator set up examined by a qualified expert electrician. Have your generator properly installed or maintained by Paxton Electric so that you can have the power you need during any winter storm in Rochester, MN. Our electricians offer repair services as well if you are already experiencing trouble.