How To Use a Generator Safely: Top 10 Tips

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standby home generator in denver

With dropping temperatures, pending snow, and the winter months upon us, it’s time to talk generators.

Generators in Denver are a great, short-term solution to any power outage. Thunder and snowstorms are no match for a good generator that can keep you and your family warm and well-lit. Choosing the right generator is the first step to preparing for what Mother Nature brings our way.

At Bell Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, our expert Denver electricians put together a list of our top 10 tips for using a generator safely. Read on to learn what they are, or simply reach out to schedule an appointment with our licensed electricians if you have questions or need help with your generator!

Top 10 Tips for Using a Generator Safely

1) Use the right size

Make sure you have the right generator for how often you’ll need it and how much power you need it to supply. You’ve probably already done this, but it’s worth mentioning again. Having the correct size generator prevents overloading, overheating, and short-circuiting.

2) Keep it dry

Always store and operate your generator on a level surface and in a dry place. Create a DIY tent, or purchase water-proofing supplies specifically for keeping your generator dry. Never operate it unprotected in wet conditions.

3) Store your fuel safely

Use an approved safety can that prevents corrosion and leaks. Keep your fuel out of living areas. Never store your fuel next to a fuel-burning appliance. Fuel plus fuel-burning appliances mean greater potential for fires.

4) Have the right accessories

Make sure you have heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords in perfect condition. Inspect them regularly for exposed wiring or other problems. Always use extension cords with a grounding pin (that’s that third prong).

5) Install a transfer switch (if you don’t already have one)

A transfer switch safely connects your generator to your home without worrying about extension cords. It prevents overloading and protects utility workers from electrocution when they’re working to get the power back. A transfer switch will also automatically connect power to the sources you deem most important. Like your refrigerator, freezer, and heat source. It will also connect back to the main power source when utilities are restored. Let’s face it. A generator only works when it gets turned on!

6) Set it up correctly

Turn off all power at your circuit breaker to prevent overloading when the power returns. Turn the generator on and plug your appliances directly into the generator, or use those extension cords we talked about. Never plug your generator directly into your home unless an electrician has cleared you to do so. This causes “back feeding” of the electrical current, which will kill someone. To be clear, we’re not exaggerating the risk.

7) Maintain proper ventilation at all times

Never use a generator indoors, including garages, workshops, or basements. Keep the generator outdoors at least 20 feet from any vent, door, or window. Point the engine exhaust away from your home. Keep a 5-foot distance between the generator and surrounding surfaces.

8) Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning

This is nothing to mess with. Carbon monoxide (CO) can kill you, your family, and your pets within minutes. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or very sleepy, go outside and call emergency services. Opening windows or doors doesn’t adequately vent your space and won’t remove the CO from the air. Install CO alarms in your home for extra safety.

9) Refuel safely

Turn off your generator and let it cool completely before refueling. Touching a hot generator will result in some nasty burns, and introducing gas to a hot generator is likely to spark a fire.

10) Shut it down correctly

Unplug your appliances one-by-one, then turn off the generator. Let the unit cool down completely. If you don’t plan on using the generator for another month, drain the fuel.

Bonus tip: Don’t wait until you need it

Do test runs, have plenty of gas on hand, have a plan, read the instructions, and inspect your generator regularly. You never want to be caught in the middle of an emergency or outage without the proper set-up and knowledge.

Have more questions about Generators?

As your neighborhood electricians, your family’s safety is our #1 priority. We’re here to help, from choosing the right products to maintaining and repairing them. Give us a call today!

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