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Standby generator installation and maintenance

Post written by: Mark Byers

shutterstock_94591576Having a generator available to provide standby power can be a great convenience during extended power outages.  Improper installation or maintenance, however, can create hazards.  The following are some tips that may help you avoid losses caused by your standby generator.

Installation

All standby power units should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. One of the things often overlooked during installation is the extreme amount of heat produced by the engine exhaust and the need to maintain adequate clearance to combustible materials to prevent a fire.  Particular attention should be paid to the exhaust pipe where it passes through building walls.  Installing the exhaust pipe and centering it in an approved pass-through or masonry flue liner and maintaining at least 18 inches clearance to combustible materials along the entire length of the exhaust pipe will help reduce the likelihood of fire.  It may also be necessary to install metal shields to protect building structure.  Metal shields should be installed on non-combustible standoffs with at least a two inch clearance to combustible materials to allow adequate cooling airflow.  Shields should extend for a minimum of 18 inches in all directions from the exhaust pipe.

Maintenance

Following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations will help keep your generator running trouble free.  An important item to service regularly is the air cleaning system.  Failure to provide adequate airflow into the engine may cause the engine to run inefficiently and create a buildup of carbon deposits in the exhaust pipe.  These deposits could ignite and spread to the building structure.  Exhaust pipes should also be inspected regularly and cleaned if necessary to remove carbon buildup.

Operation 

Check out the following links for some tips on safe generator installation and operation:

http://dma.mt.gov/des/library/genbrochurev3.PDF

http://www.duke-energy.com/safety/electric/standby-generator.asp

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