Don’t Ignore These 2 to 5-Year Generator Maintenance Events

Don’t Ignore These 2 to 5-Year Generator Maintenance Events

Properly maintained, your standby generator should last from 10,000 to 30,000 hours. But what if your generator is only running 50 hours or less a year? Will it last for 20 years, 30 years or more, even if it’s not running regularly?

The answer is yes: your commercial generator can last 30 years or more, as long as it’s being properly maintained.

The more hours per year a unit operates, the more frequently it will require service. But if you haven’t run your generator in a long time, there are specific 2, 3, and 5-year maintenance items that must be performed to keep your backup generator in good working order.

Annual and Semi-Annual Generator Maintenance: The Starting Point

First, let’s look at the generator maintenance items that should be completed every six months to a year. The fewer of these you’re doing regularly, the more critical 2 to 5-year maintenance can be. These items are not a substitute for 2, 3 and 5-year generator maintenance, but are critical to the long-term care and operation of your standby generator:

Bi-Annual Maintenance (Remember to always use a certified technician)

  • Inspect the enclosure.
  • Check the battery electrolyte level and specific gravity.
  • Check battery cables and connections.
  • Inspect drive belts.
  • Inspect the coolant heater and record temperature.
  • Check coolant lines and connections.
  • Check for oil leaks and inspect lubrication system hoses and connectors.
  • Check for fuel leaks and inspect fuel system hoses and connectors.
  • Inspect the exhaust system, muffler and exhaust pipe.
  • Check and clean air filters.
  • Inspect air induction piping and connections.
  • Inspect the DC electrical system, control panel and accessories.
  • Inspect the AC wiring and accessories.

Annual Maintenance

  • Change oil and filter.
  • Change the fuel filter.
  • Change the air filter.
  • Clean the crankcase breather.
  • Change spark plugs.
  • Check coolant concentration.
  • Flush the cooling system (as needed).
  • Perform load bank testing.
  • Fuel testing & reconditioning (diesel-fueled units only).
  • Remove water from fuel tank (diesel-fueled units only).

2 to 5-Year Generator Maintenance Requirements

In addition to regular maintenance, there are other non-annual maintenance services that are equally important for the health of your generator. These services cover maintenance and replacement of engine components that are not typically replaced during Annual, Semi-Annual, or Quarterly maintenance visits.
If you hope to have your backup generator last 30 years or more, your maintenance plan should also encompass these 2 to 5-year events. Here are some examples of the type of maintenance required after the first year:
Battery Change (every 2-3 years)
Tune Up (every 2 years, spark-fired engines only)
Cooling System Service (every 3 years)
Valve Adjustment (every 5 years)

Including long term service to a routine generator maintenance plan provides added protection for your backup power system, and a reduced risk of unexpected service costs and downtime.

The Benefits of a Long-Term Generator Service Plan

Budget Planning

Maintaining your 2 to 5-year service plan allows your chief engineer or facilities manager to budget for these items ahead of time. This prevents the need to get approval to replace maintenance items at an unexpected time, such as the point of an equipment failure. And since the cost for regular maintenance is typically predetermined by your service contract, you can plan your costs ahead rather than incurring the expense of an emergency service call.

Cost Savings

Scheduling this routine maintenance is almost always less expensive than incurring the costs of emergency repairs or replacement. Emergency calls typically require after-hours repairs and even overtime labor costs. And If the replacement parts are not readily available, shipping costs can add to your expenses, along with the cost of a temporary rental generator.

Preventing Downtime

Critical and Life-Safety facilities cannot have generator downtime. Loss of power can mean loss of life, which is unacceptable. For data centers, downtime can mean the loss of critical data and risk of lost revenue. When an emergency generator cannot operate, a facility is at risk of having zero backup power, potentially resulting in downtime, safety concerns, critical loss, and liability.

Including 2 to 5-year service to a routine generator maintenance plan provides added protection for your backup power system and reduces the risk of unexpected service costs and downtime as your generator sits for prolonged periods of time.


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