Time: 1-2 hours
Chaotic storms can knock out your power in an instant, but that’s why we’ve got portable generators. Crank one up when the power goes out and it’ll keep your refrigerator and other small appliances running (not your entire home — that needs a permanently-installed generator, which is a different beast). Change the oil and fuel in your portable generator to make sure it's ready for the next outage.
What's in it for you?
- A running refrigerator
- Peace of mind during a power outage
- Lubricated generator engine
Change the Oil & Fuel in Your Portable Generator to Keep it Outage-Ready
Run the generator to warm up the engine. Start up your generator and let it run for a few minutes so the engine is warm and the gunk gets unstuck. (You want it to drain out with the oil.) The engine and oil will be hot afterward, so use work gloves. Safety first, people.
Drain the old oil. Look on the bottom of your engine for the oil drain plug (it’s probably a metal bolt). Put a metal pan under the drain plug, grab a socket wrench and lefty-loosey to remove the drain plug. Let the oil drain and replace the plug with the socket wrench.
Refill the oil. Find your generator’s oil fill cap — they’re usually yellow and on the top or side of the generator engine. Don’t see it? Some generators use the same hole for draining and filling oil. Unscrew the cap (or use a socket wrench) and insert a funnel into the hole. Time to refill — pour the oil into the funnel and don’t stop until the oil level is just below the top of the hole. Replace the cap, and done!
Drain the old fuel. New oil is great and all, but it’s not going to do you a lot of good if old fuel is gunking up your engine. No worries — just use a shaker siphon from the hardware or auto parts store to drain the old fuel into a gas container. Unscrew your generator’s gas tank and stick the siphon tube in it so the end with the copper fitting is hanging out. Put the gas container on the floor (or anywhere that’s lower than the gas tank) and stick the other end of the shaker siphon into it. Shake the copper fitting to get the gas flowing into the container and let gravity do the rest. Don’t forget to dispose of the fuel responsibly later.
Store your generator with an empty tank, and use fuel stabilizer. Once you’re done draining, don’t refill the generator’s gas tank. Instead, keep a container of gas on hand with fuel stabilizer mixed in. You can find this stuff at the hardware or auto parts store. Just follow the directions to find out how much to add.
Pro tip: Running your generator for 20 minutes once a month makes sure that fresh oil you just added is primed to do its job — lubricating your engine parts. Just add a bit of gas, fire up the generator and let it run. (It’s ok if there’s some gas left at the end.)