Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Save money by doing your own basic generator maintenance

RV generators are great because they allow you to run all your electrical stuff without being hooked up to shore power. It’s not uncommon for us to pull off on a lonely roadside, fire up the generator and use the microwave to make lunch.On excessively hot travel days we use the generator to run both our air conditioners to keep the coach cool. Generators have become standard equipment on motorhomes and on many 5th wheels and travel trailers as well.

RV generators provide 120 volts of alternating current (AC power) and are powered by gasoline, propane or diesel. Since generators are crucial to the RV lifestyle it is important to maintain them properly. Maintenance procedures and intervals vary depending on manufacturer and model, so I recommend you consult your generator manual for guidance on the proper maintenance schedule.

Basic generator maintenance requires the following items be done:

Change the oil and oil filter every 100 hours or once a year whichever comes first.
Change the fuel filter when required.
Clean or change the air filter every 50 hours of use or more frequently if operated in dusty conditions.
Check belts for cracks or fraying, bolts for tightness and fuel lines for leaks.
Check the antifreeze level on generators that are water cooled.
Record the hours so you know when to preform the next maintenance.

The video below goes into detail on the basic maintenance procedures.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with all your format but you are dry firing the engine,wether it be any fuel source. All oil filters should be pre lubed,by adding at least a pint of oil that is to be installed into the engine,into the filter and rolling the filter to saturate the internal filter media,so the engine's oil pump is not trying to push oil thru dry media.

Anonymous said...

Blowing out paper air filters is no no. Tapping gently to remove any build up is OK . Much better to use a new one each time.

Jim Twamley said...

Anonymous said "Blowing out paper air filters is no no". First of all who says it's a no no? Second, what scientific evidence explains why it might be so? Third, do you think the filter manufacturers are going to tell you to do this when they would loose sales? You can't just write a comment like this without supporting your statement. Where are the facts to back up your claim? Seriously, I've been blowing out paper air filters on all types of vehicles and motors for over 30 years without incident. Use your judgment, if it's too dirty replace it with a new one (like I said in the video). Compressed air is a useful tool if used correctly.

As to the first comment, filling the new oil filter with oil before replacing it is a great idea if it is a vertical installation. The engineers of my generator didn't think it was important so they mounted the filter at a slant making it physically impossible to "pre-fill" the filter wit new oil without spilling it all over the place. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Blow out sure, one other trick hold a light inside filter, if you can see light threw filter reuse if not replace. Also I put oil in filter center hole even on vertical mount, I lose very little if any.

Anonymous said...

Running the generator on a monthly schedule, under load, for at least 1/2 hour to prevent deposits building up in carb.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on blowing out the filters. I've done it for years. I enjoy your tips. Keep on truckin'. jb

Anonymous said...

I wish that it were true that you can blow out the dust from a paper element air filter.

I am an engineer, and have used disposable filters in a variety of designs. Everything from nuclear facilities to wood shops to paint booths uses disposable filters. They get expensive and are bulky for disposal.

We tried blowing the dust out of our filters many times. The biggest problem was that there was often a tiny tear created by the air jet that was not detected by the person doing the cleaning. Sometimes there were many tiny splits in the media.

In a clean room, for example, this would be very bad. Even in a paint shop, the intake air of a paint booth needs to be quite clean to keep the finish of the product smooth. In these applications you notice when your filter is not performing well immediately. In an intake filter for an engine, you probably won't notice any problem right away, but the dirt will cause wear over time.

We also tried vacuuming the filters, but the improvement in flow was not very great with dust filters.

We ended up agreeing with filter manufacturers, that disposable filters really are not reusable.

Thanks for all the great advice in your column!

Tireman9 said...

If I add stabilizer to my gas and run the generator for a while to be sure the stabilized fuel is now in the generator why do I still need to run my gen every month?
Has anyone seen large RV dealers out running generators on their lots? At some large dealers there would be a gen running all the time.

Anonymous said...

I also use a "Sharpie" to write the date on the fuel and oil filters, as well as in my service booklet.

Anonymous said...

When changing the oil, place a ziploc bag or a plastic shopping bag around the filter just before removing it to catch any spilled oil. Makes much less of a mess.

Anonymous said...

ive been blowing out air filters for 30 yrs.hold it up to sun light can you see light thru the filter?its clean enuff!
item two,if you pour oil into oil filter about half way up in the filter,roll it around the oil will be absorbed by filter in about a minite,no spill prefilled,now install
into horizontal position.great for cars with same horizonal oil filter positions.k2

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