How to Maintain Your RV Generator? – Experts’ 10 Cleaning Tips
While there are many articles on how to maintain your RV batteries, there are fewer resources out there on how to maintain your RV generator. This is a serious problem given that it is far harder to replace a generator than batteries, and if your generator fails, you may not be able to recharge your RV’s battery bank. Here are experts’ ten tips on cleaning and maintaining your RV generator.
Schedule the Maintenance
Perform maintenance on the generator twice a year if you aren’t using it. This means you’ll need to pull it out of storage twice a year to clean and otherwise maintain it. If you are using it regularly, plan dates to do the maintenance.
By planning when you’ll do the maintenance, you ensure that it is done instead of forgotten and put off. Regardless of how often you perform the maintenance, plan on at least an hour each time.
That’s the minimum amount of time you need to thoroughly check the generator and do basic cleaning.
Maintain a Log
You’ll want to maintain a log of all the maintenance you’ve done. This may be necessary just to keep the warranty valid. Record when you performed the maintenance, any issues you found, and especially anything you fixed or replaced.
Take the maintenance log with you when you have the generator repaired. Issues like repeatedly replaced spark plugs or leaks help the mechanic or service department more quickly identify the root cause.
Record maintenance and repairs completed by a third party, too. Yes, you want to record everything else someone else does as part of the best RV inverter generator maintain and repair log.
Start by Checking the Overall Condition of the Generator
Before you start disassembling it to clean it, check its overall condition. Look for potential issues that warrant repair before you start taking it apart to clean it. Are there loose wires or corroded elements? Are there any leaves or dirt clogging the air intake?
You may want to take some time to clean around the generator so that nothing is sucked in when you turn it on. If debris gets into the alternator, you’ll ruin the generator. Look for leaks, too.
There’s no point in adding oil if it is going to end up on the ground. If the fuel hose is cracked, now is the time to replace it.
Check the Oil
You’ll want to check oil levels before each use of the rv generator. For new generators, you’ll want to change the oil after every twenty hours of use. Once it is broken in, you’ll want to change the oil after every 100 hours.
However, if the oil is deteriorating unusually fast, you’ll either need to change the oil more often or have the generator serviced. Cleaning a grimy generator that’s creating metal shavings before turning it back on makes it look good but shortens its operating life.
Check the Air Filter
The air filter filters out dirt and debris as the generator sucks in air. If it is dirty, the generator will work harder to generate the same amount of power. That shortens its operating life.
You should clean the generator’s air filter after every hundred hours of use, sooner than that if you’re in a dusty environment. Replace it monthly, more often if you’re using the generator constantly.
Check the Fuel
Check the fuel. Dirty fuel may be caused by improper storage, or it could be caused by refilling the fuel tank in a dirty environment. If the fuel is dirty, replace it. And if necessary, replace the container you use to store the fuel.
Check the fuel strainer, too. That filters the fuel as it is poured into the fill port. If there is sediment in the fuel strainer, either clean it or replace it.
Check Your Spark Plugs
The spark plugs need to be inspected every 100 hours for damage, carbon buildup and oil residue. Carbon buildup and oil residue can be cleaned with either a wire brush or spark plug cleaner.
If either of these is excessive, you may want to have the generator checked out by a professional. If any spark plug has cracked porcelain, replace it.
Clean the Generator
Once you’ve checked the oil and air filters, you can start cleaning the generator itself. Use a gentle air supply to blow off dust and debris.
Do not use a pressure washer; this could damage the generator. Use a clean rag lightly moistened with degreaser to wipe off grease and caked on dirt.
Identify buttons that are stuck for gentle cleaning, but if that doesn’t work, have a mechanic look at it.
Bolts tend to loosen on generators after they’ve run for a while. Tighten up any obviously loose parts. As the generator runs, these can vibrate to the point of damaging other components.
In the case of nuts and screws, vibrations can cause them to wear down the threads to the point they won’t stay secure. While you’re at it, check the gasket head and pistons. If they are worn or cracked, replace them.
Once in a While, Clean the Fuel Tank
Most generator owners know that they need to drain the fuel tank if they’re going to store the generator for a while. Many understand the need to drain and refill the tank once in a while, as well as the legal requirement to properly dispose of the fuel. What many don’t know is that they should drain and simply clean the fuel tank itself once in a while.
When the tank has been drained, check it for rust, corrosion, sludge and cracks. Use a baster to remove large debris in the tank. You could add a liquid to the tank to try to loosen anything else stuck inside the tank, though you’ll want to thoroughly remove it after you’ve cleaned the tank. This step may be necessary if you continually need to replace the fuel filter ahead of schedule.
If you’ve been using old or cheap gas, you should refill the tank with fuel that contains detergents. If you haven’t used the generator for a long time, such as when it has filled with condensate, consider treating it with a biocide before filling it with fuel.
Cleaning every part of your generator allows you to identify potential problems when they’re easy to solve or cheap to fix. It will also extend the operating life of your generator, allowing it to last for years. Regular maintenance and cleaning also improve the efficiency of the generator, letting you get as much power as possible.