Friday, 27 February 2015

Why Generators Fail to Start

Reliance on an unlimited supply of electric power helps organisations and societies to function smoothly.The availability of this continuous power allows businesses to sustain operations without hiccups. To safeguard facilities from the disastrous consequences of power disruption, many companies are choosing to invest in standby power systems.
It is imperative to for companies to understand how to operate and maintain their power equipment, as a lack of generator maintenance or operation knowledge will undoubtedly result in generator failure at a time when they need it most.
Let's take a look at nine most common reasons generators fail to start, and what you can do to try and prevent these from occurring.
1.   Battery failure
The single most frequent reason for generator issues is related to battery failure. Most battery failure is related to sulphatebuild-up — the accumulation of lead sulphates on the plates of lead-acid batteries. You can avoid this if you replace the batteries regularly. Some experts recommend replacing them every three years. Also, many battery problems are caused by dirty and loose connections.Hence maintenance is critical. Cable connections need to be regularly cleaned and tightened.
2.   Low coolant levels
The most obvious cause for a low coolant level is either an external or internal leak. One must pay close attention to any visible puddles of coolant around the generator. While many generators are equipped with low coolant level alarms, few have a dedicated alarm indicator for low coolant. Commonly, this alarm will be tied in to a high coolant temp shutdown circuit.
3.   Low coolant temp alarms
Low coolant temp alarms are mainly the result of faulty block heaters. Unfortunately block heaters fail periodically. Normal walk-through inspections should include checking the cylinder head (or engine thermostat housing) for temperature and verifying that the engine or block heater hoses are warm.

4.   Oil, fuel, or coolant leaks
Most often, oil leaks are not in fact leaks but the result of “wet stacking” caused by excessive no-load run time. When generators operate considerably below the rated output level, the engine can start to over-fuel or “wet stack” and damage the engine.Cooling system maintenance will help prevent leaks. Replacement of hoses and coolant every three years is recommended.
5.   Controls not in auto
“Not in auto” messages are the direct result of human error. The obvious reason for “not in auto” situations are because the main control switch was left in the off/reset position. This usually occurs after testing or servicing of a generator.
6.   Air in the fuel system
This is a common problem with newer generators that are not run on a regular basis. Closer tolerances within the fuel systems make it more susceptible to air affecting start up.
7.   Ran out of fuel
Mechanical fuel level gauges may not always be accurate. Unlike a vehicle that is moving and using a higher percentage of its tank's capacity, a generator tank has no movement, causing the fuel to become stagnant. Mechanical gauges may also stick in a position until vibrations break them free.
8.   High fuel level alarm
High fuel level alarms are required to prevent the overfilling of a fuel tank. The alarm should activate when the fuel tank reaches between 90% and 95% capacity. This lets the person fuelling the tank know when he or she should stop filling.
9.   Breaker trip
Verify that nobody has accidentally pushed a remote emergency power off switch.

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