Things to Know if You Have a Backup Generator

A backup generator can give you peace of mind in the event of a hurricane or routine power outage. While they can come in handy, owners should know the right way to install and maintain them. If you have a backup generator, make sure you know the following.

  • Review local laws. Federal, state and local regulations may require you to obtain a permit before using a generator.
  • Keep the area clear. By giving off a lot of heat, backup generators can create a fire if objects are too close. Keep any objects far away from the generator.
  • Check the ventilation. Putting a generator in an enclosed structure can lead to dangerous levels of CO. Keep them at least 15 feet away from open windows so that exhaust doesn’t enter anyone’s home.
  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector. This will warn you if CO levels rise, which can be fatal.
  • Keep it in a dry location. Operate your generator on a dry surface under an open structure and make sure your hands are dry before touching it. Wet conditions can lead to short circuits, which can lead to fires.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close by. This added precaution can help if a fire was to break out.
  • Keep cords tucked away. Not only should you make sure a path is clear of wires, but you should also check these wires regularly to see if any are frayed which again could lead to a fire.
  • Don’t plug them into a wall outlet. The low voltage from the generator can increase to thousands of volts when it passes through a utility transformer. Plug your generator into a manual transfer switch instead – this distributes power in a safer manner. Also, before you turn on your generator, disconnect your normal source of power.
  • Always keep enough fuel handy. Know your generator’s rate of fuel consumption and be sure to have enough fuel on hand. Store fuels in a cool, dry area, away from heat sources. Always turn off your generator and allow it to cool before you refuel it.
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