Having a generator to provide backup power during an emergency can make the difference between sitting in a cold quiet house waiting for the return of electricity and being able to function on a relatively normal basis regardless of how long it takes for power from the grid to resume. Having a generator, however, does not automatically ensure that the lights will remain on and that appliances will continue to run, especially if some of the common mistakes are committed.
These mistakes include:
* Not having fuel on hand – This mistake usually occurs after the generator has been sitting idle for a while. Proper maintenance calls for tanks to be emptied prior to extended periods of non-use, which can result in an “out of sight, out of mind” situation where the need for fuel isn’t recognized until someone tries to start the generator.
* Not having a sheltered area for the generator – Generators cannot be run indoors or in a garage due to the emission of carbon monoxide. They also can’t be run with direct exposure to water, meaning that there should be a dedicated shelter to protect the generator from the elements. Without a shelter, a generator can’t be run until rain stops, which can leave a household in the dark until weather passes.
* Forgetting where extension cords are stored – Running a portable generator requires extension cords to be connected to the items that will be powered during an outage. While it may be tempting to use them for other purposes, have extension cords stored in a specific location that will only be used for the generator.
* Forgetting about maintenance – A generator will require some maintenance, especially if it hasn’t been in operation recently. Follow the maintenance protocols in the operators’ manual to ensure that your generator starts when you need it.
Avoiding these mistakes can make sure that your generator can do exactly what you bought it for. Otherwise, that generator that could be powering your house in an emergency may just sit around until you can get it to work after the storm moves on.