Winter is coming, which means winter snowstorms are just around the corner. Since farm chores must be completed regardless of the weather, it’s important to have a generator on hand as backup in case you lose power.
Perhaps you have a standby generator installed, in which case you’re probably ready for anything. But if you count on a portable gasoline generator to serve your winter needs, you’ll want to follow our handy pre-winter checklist to ensure your generator is primed and ready to serve when you need it.
1. Make Sure Your Generator Is Readily Accessible
If you lose power during a winter snowstorm, you want your generator to be readily accessible—not buried in a shed behind all your summer lawn equipment. Before winter arrives, make sure your generator is waiting in a convenient location, preferably with easy access to outdoors.
(Due to carbon monoxide risks, generators should not be used indoors.)
2. Change the Oil
Check your generator’s instruction manual for guidance on how frequently to change the oil. Even if you’re not due for a regular oil change, you might want to trade the summer oil for low-viscosity oil (such as 5W30) more suitable for use in cold weather.
3. Change Filters if Necessary
Oil, air and fuel filters should all be cleaned and/or replaced depending on how heavily your generator has been used. Check the instruction manual for a recommended maintenance schedule.
4. Stabilize the Fuel
You want your generator ready to run at a moment’s notice. Since an empty gas tank can be an invitation for corrosion, it’s best to leave the tank filled when not in use.
But if gasoline starts degrading after just a couple of months, isn’t it risky to leave the tank full all winter long? What if you get lucky and never need to use the generator?
This is where fuel stabilizers enter the picture. Mix an appropriate amount of stabilizer into your fuel and you’ll significantly extend its lifespan, alleviating the issue entirely.
5. Charge the Battery (and Keep It Warm)
Batteries can struggle in cold weather, so if your generator features a battery-powered electric starter, make sure the battery is fully charged before winter. If your generator is stored in a heated garage, perfect. If not, consider removing the battery and storing it indoors until needed.
6. Test the Generator (Both Now and Throughout the Winter)
Once you’ve finished your pre-season maintenance, go ahead and give the generator a test run. Let it run for five or 10 minutes, just to let the stabilized fuel spread through the system and confirm everything is in good order.
In general, engines benefit from running with some regularity. So go ahead and fire up your generator at least every few weeks during the winter to keep it in good working condition.
7. Stock up on Extra Parts and Supplies
There’s no reason to be short on spare parts and supplies—you’ll use them all eventually. Head into winter with extra spark plugs, filters and gas on hand so you won’t run short during the snowstorm of the century.
If you’re concerned about using the spare gas quickly enough (probably not an issue if you’re busy plowing snow with your ATV!), add a fuel stabilizer and don’t give it another thought.
Once your generator is prepped and ready, you can rest easy even when fierce snowstorms are on the horizon. Stay safe!