Generator maintenance

Updated: Thursday, September 01, 2016 @ 8:17 AM
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 9:26 PM
By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

Every week, consumers take their portable generators to local stores hoping for good news.

They swear they’ve been performing the recommended monthly maintenance on the machines so loud, but so valued when the power goes out following a storm. But the tell-tale thick brown sludge in the generator’s carburetor gives them away.

It’s OK, say local generator store owners. There’s no need to lie — especially now that we’re in the height of the hurricane season.

The important thing, they add, is to bring in that unused generator to be serviced before a storm is on the way.

For fees typically ranging from $65 to $125 — depending on the amount of work to be done — local generator “specialists” say they can get that neglected piece of equipment back on track.

“I get a couple of generators a week that come in for maintenance,” says Justin Suggs, general manager at Stuart Lawn & Garden. “They won’t start. People have left gas in them, or they are not doing the monthly run on the engine.”

His standard generator maintenance advice: Once a month, put a half gallon of gas in your generator and run it for at least a half-hour. A month later, do the same thing.

Even a generator that’s out of gas still has vapors that create a blockage in the carburetor, says Suggs, whose also owns and operates Suggs Lawn Equipment in Royal Palm Beach.

There are easily hundreds of portable generators idled in garages and storage sheds that haven’t seen the light of day since Wilma left town four years ago. What’s more, the current recession has moved generator maintenance to the back-burner for many owners.

Still, in one week last month, customers dropped off five generators to be brought up to snuff at Blast Off Equipment Inc. in West Palm Beach, co-owner Felix Finnegan Jr. says.

He said that’s a sign that despite the recession, the storm season is making folks recognize the need for maintenance.

“People have … left gas in them and gummed up their carburetors,” Finnegan says, which can lead to a generator mechanic having to remove the fuel completely and dry out the system with an air compressor.

One area of generator sales that has jumped during the recession is “whole house” or stand-by generators.
Jon Andio, co-owner of 1 Stop Generator Shop in Palm Beach Gardens, said since people can’t sell their homes, they figure they might as well install a generator.

He says while the store sells portable generators, sales of stand-by units — which start at $8,000 — are up 65-70 percent over 2008 and make up the bulk of his business.

But, he warns that the stand-by generators, which operate automatically and start instantly in the case of a power outage, also require maintenance.

“The big ones are car engines,” he says, “And just like a car mechanic tells you to change your oil, you should change the generator’s oil every six months.”

Power station
Generator neglect is common, say mechanics. But there are some basic maintenance tips to avoid a bill that could easily top $100.

  • Always empty fuel from a generator when it is not in use.
  • Put in a half-gallon of fresh gas and run it once a month.
  • Plug in a lamp, drill, or a small appliance to make sure the generator works.
  • If it has an electric start, keep the battery charged.
  • Cover it when not in use to keep out dirt and dust.
  • For specifics, refer to your generator’s manual.Helpful Web sites:
  • Find the right generator for you
  • Honda generators
  • Consumer Reports (Search for “generators”)
  • Running the basics
    Generator size: 5,000 watts
    Price: $1,000 (average)
    What it will run:

  • Refrigerator (1,200 watts)
  • Electric fry pan (1,500 watts)
  • Microwave (1,000 watts)
  • Three lamps (180 watts)
  • Computer and monitor (1,000 watts)
  • Television (300 watts)
  • Neglect vs. proper care
    Cost of generator: $1,000
    Cost of proper do-it-yourself maintenance: a half gallon of gas ($1.50) for 12 months = $18
    Cost of neglect: A dead generator that takes $65-$125 in service. And if it requires parts …
  • New carburetor: $100 (plus labor)
  • New battery: $60.
  • New oil and air filters: $50.
    - Susan Salisbury
  • Related

    Atlantic hurricane names

    Updated: Friday, September 30, 2016 @ 8:15 PM
    Published: Thursday, May 19, 2016 @ 4:59 PM
    By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com



    When the the winds from these storms reach 39 mph (34 kts), the cyclones are given names. Years ago, an international committee developed names for Atlantic cyclones. In 1979 a six year rotating list of Atlantic storm names was adopted — alternating between male and female hurricane names. Storm names are used to facilitate geographic referencing, for warning services, for legal issues, and to reduce confusion when two or more tropical cyclones occur at the same time. Through a vote of the World Meteorological Organization Region IV Subcommittee, Atlantic cyclone names are retired usually when hurricanes result in substantial damage or death or for other special circumstances. The names assigned for the period between 2016 and 2020 are shown below.
    Names for Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclones

    20162017201820192020

    Alex
    Bonnie
    Colin
    Danielle
    Earl
    Fiona
    Gaston
    Hermine
    Ian
    Julia
    Karl
    Lisa
    Matthew
    Nicole
    Otto
    Paula
    Richard
    Shary
    Tobias
    Virginie
    Walter
    Arlene
    Bret
    Cindy
    Don
    Emily
    Franklin
    Gert
    Harvey
    Irma
    Jose
    Katia
    Lee
    Maria
    Nate
    Ophelia
    Philippe
    Rina
    Sean
    Tammy
    Vince
    Whitney
    Alberto
    Beryl
    Chris
    Debby
    Ernesto
    Florence
    Gordon
    Helene
    Isaac
    Joyce
    Kirk
    Leslie
    Michael
    Nadine
    Oscar
    Patty
    Rafael
    Sara
    Tony
    Valerie
    William
    Andrea
    Barry
    Chantal
    Dorian
    Erin
    Fernand
    Gabrielle
    Humberto
    Imelda
    Jerry
    Karen
    Lorenzo
    Melissa
    Nestor
    Olga
    Pablo
    Rebekah
    Sebastien
    Tanya
    Van
    Wendy
    Arthur
    Bertha
    Cristobal
    Dolly
    Edouard
    Fay
    Gonzalo
    Hanna
    Isaias
    Josephine
    Kyle
    Laura
    Marco
    Nana
    Omar
    Paulette
    Rene
    Sally
    Teddy
    Vicky
    Wilfred

    Grills are convenient, but can be dangerous

    Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 2:02 PM
    Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 10:35 PM
    By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

    When the power goes out, you may be cooking on a charcoal, propane or natural gas grill, or a hibachi.

    Never leave grill unattended. Keep children away! Don’t grill near leaves, wood or other flammable objects.

    CHARCOAL GRILLS

    Safety first! Grills can kill. Charcoal emits carbon monoxide. It’s odorless and colorless and deadly. Grills emit it even if the lid is on, and they can emit it even if coals appear completely out. After Hurricane Wilma in 2005, a mother in a family of three died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a smoldering grill was left in a kitchen.

    Grill food in a well-ventilated area. NEVER bring a grill inside a home, camper or tent. Do NOT grill in a garage, carport or shed.

    Douse coals with water, stir and douse again. They are out when they are cool to the touch.

    Stock up early. Store in a dry area, away from flame.

    PROPANE GRILLS

    Fill your propane tanks now! Lines will be long once the storm approaches. If you have a big tank, have it filled regularly during the season. If you use small tanks, have two or even three full ones on hand.

    When refilling, have supplier check for dents, damage, rust or leaks. At home, check hoses for leaks, kinks or deterioration.

    If tank appears damaged after a storm, don’t use it.

    Keep propane tanks outside the home, but secure them so they don’t become missiles during the storm.

    Use and store propane cylinders outdoors in an upright position after the storm. Do not store spare tanks close to a hot grill.

    Don’t tamper with supply lines or permanent connections.

    Keep grill lid open until you’re sure it’s lit.

    Always make sure valves and dials are shut tight on both grill and tank. Escaping propane fumes, easy to detect by their strong odor, are deadly to breathe in quantity and can explode. If you smell gas, clear the area and seek help.

    Never smoke around propane! 

    Interactive: Home inspection tips

    Updated: Friday, September 23, 2016 @ 9:17 PM
    Published: Sunday, May 10, 2015 @ 4:39 PM
    By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

    Updates on Citizens, State Farm

    Updated: Friday, September 23, 2016 @ 8:57 PM
    Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 @ 10:45 PM
    By: www.prod.cmgdefault.com

    Citizens

    Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is a state-created entity that serves as the insurer of last resort for policyholders locked out of the private market.

    Changes made by the legislature ended requirements that Citizens charge the highest rates in Florida and also allowed more policyholders to obtain Citizens coverage.

    Eligibility requirements for a Citizens policy were changed to allow for people who are unable to find coverage and those who are unable to find affordable coverage to obtain a policy. Citizens has almost 1.1 million policyholders.

    In order to buy coverage from Citizens, consumers must either be rejected by other insurers or have a quote for coverage that is more than 15 percent higher than a similar quote for coverage from Citizens.

    Citizens policies do not offer the same breadth of comprehensive coverage options as some private insurers. For example, Citizens has limited loss-of-use coverage, the coverage that would pay your living expenses if your house was heavily damaged or declared a total loss and you were forced to live in a hotel or temporary apartment.

    Citizens will only pay living expenses of up to 10 percent. Private insurers, in contrast, normally pay up to 20 percent.

    Another limitation is that personal property coverage is limited to 50 percent of the value of your home.

    If your home is valued at $200,000, you are limited to $100,000 coverage for all your personal belongings. This includes all your furniture, electronics, clothing for your entire family, and all household goods. Private insurers usually offer personal property coverage of up to 70 percent.

    Citizens also does not offer optional coverage for artwork, antiques, collectibles and jewelry.

    Other caps include limiting liability coverage to $300,000. If a neighbor trips in your house and sues you, the most Citizens would pay is $300,000. Private insurers can offer liability coverage of $1 million or more.

    On the Web: www.CitizensFla.com

    State Farm

    State Farm negotiated a deal in December 2009 that will keep it in the state, but allows the company to drop some clients in high-risk areas such as South Florida.

    The plan also allows State Farm — the state’s largest private insurer — to hike its rates by an average of 14.8 percent, although some customers will see larger increases.

    About 125,000 households will be dropped by State Farm, which began sending out notifications to those customers in February. Cancellations will start in August, when the rate increases take effect.

    The agreement also allows its agents to write policies for other insurance carriers.

    It’s likely the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will have to pick up some policies.

    State Farm had said it would pull out of Florida completely, leaving 806,000 residents looking for new insurance, after the Office of Insurance Regulation denied a 47 percent rate rise in 2008.

    For more help:
  • Rates: www.shopandcomparerates.com
  • Florida Market Assistance Plan: www.fmap.org
    Source: Office of Insurance Regulation