RV Generator Care & Maintenance

We have come to expect generator power to be available on demand, not realizing that without following regular maintenance and exercise programs, the generator may not even start. Just like the human body, if we want positive performance results, exercise is important to generator longevity. Generally, motorhome manufacturers recommend operating the generator under load at least once a month. Complete an overall visual inspection every eight to 10 run hours. This may include removing a panel to gain visual access. Fuel filters should be changed every 400 to 500 hours, or every one to two years. Valves, in older-style generators requiring such maintenance, need adjustment every 800 hours. Check slip rings and brushes every 500 hours. Check the exhaust system, which includes the brackets and spark arrestor. Not all generators have spark arrestors, but those that do may require annual cleaning. If you have a diesel generator, the water must be drained from the fuel system annually or every 100 hours of run time. The coolant, thermostat and radiator caps need to be replaced every two years on diesel models as well. Again, check the details in the owner’s manual for suggested scheduled maintenance in order to stay in compliance of specific requirements. Just like any vehicle, the engine oil, filter and air cleaner must be changed in accordance with the manufacturer’s suggested intervals. Consult your generator owner’s manual for the specific service details. Most gas and propane generators require oil and air filter changes every 100 to 150 hours, or once a year. Extended storage can create problems with the generator’s carburetor because the parts and passages are very small. Varnish is a result of old fuel that can collect in the jets or on the needles and will diminish their function. A few signs that the generator may be experiencing this problem are difficulty in starting, surging and abnormally high or low run speeds. Take into account that varnish can also be cumulative. Fuel stabilizers work wonders in preventing this problem when used properly. If the varnish buildup has already occurred, you will probably need to have the carburetor either rebuilt or replaced. Most motorhomes are designed so that the generator will stop running when the fuel tank is around the quarter-full mark. After the fuel treatment (STA-BIL is a good choice) is added, exercise the generator for the recommended time and load; you will then be ready for extended storage.

Do’s and Don’ts for Better Generator Performance

The Do’s

DO keep your generator clean by wiping it periodically with a clean cloth.

DO turnoff all appliances in cold weather before starting your generator, for best long-term performance.

DO check the operator’s manual for the periodic maintenance schedule.

DO check the exhaust system regularly for damage or leaks make sure the exhaust pipe extends out at least one inch beyond the vehicles perimeter.

DO check the air filter periodically and it by tapping it on a flat surface. Never wash it in solvents or blow it out with an air hose.

DO exercise your generator regularly.

DO change your fuel filter. The fuel filter is an often forgotten part of any engine. Your generator has one too. It removes bits of debris from the fuel to prevent clogging the carburetor jets.

The Don’ts

DON’T run the generator for long periods of time without using it to power appliances. It wastes fuel and may cause the engine to misfire.

Don’t attempt to adjust the carburetor, governor, choke, etc. yourself

Don’t run your generator with the door panel open.

So take a little time and care of your generator and when you need it most it will always be there for you.

For more tips about RV maintenance and service, contact Mike at mikeb@rvglass.com

or call (800) 551-9149 ext. 2030