Portable Generator Inspection Checklist

A portable generator can be extremely handy in places where power outages are frequent and also for powering tools, equipment, etc at places where electricity is not available. They are very useful for powering homes as well as small businesses like bakeries, family restaurants, and butcher shops.

A portable power source is also incredibly convenient for hauling outdoors if you want to go camping, along with more practical uses for workers carrying out repairs in remote areas. However, such inventions also need you to go the extra mile when it comes to their care and maintenance.

Proper and regular maintenance of your generator is crucial so that it always works at peak efficiency. A thorough upkeep will ensure that your generator will start when you need it. If your generator does not work properly or fails to start, it could pose serious problems for you during an emergency.

You hence need a kind of checklist to guarantee that your generator remains in top shape as much as possible. We’ll provide this below:

Visual Inspection

Visual inspection of the generator and area around it is quite is critical. Such an inspection will help you to ensure that there are no leaks and no blocks. Check for damage or loose fuel lines. In general, make sure that you keep the generator and the area around it as clean as possible.

Always wipe and clean the generator so that it remains dry. Keep the operation area clear of dirt, stones etc.

Check Oil and Coolant Levels Regularly

You should check oil levels regularly for a smooth functioning of the generator. If oil levels dip, a portable generator may not able to perform at its peak efficiency. Checking of coolant levels is important for liquid-cooled models.

Changing the Oil

No matter what kind of generator you have, changing the oil on a regular basis should always be a priority. This can enhance its lifespan by a decent amount, though many generator owners might neglect this aspect.

Frequent oil changes are important for your generator, as the maintenance depends on how many hours you’ve run it. Your generator might have an hour meter on it, while you can also add on if there isn’t. If nothing else, you should log in the hours manually using a notes app or a clipboard hanging nearby. Whoever turns on the generator and turns it off should note the time so that you can calculate the number of hours with some accuracy.

Check the Oil

If your generator has been sitting unused for some time, the crankcase might get some water mixed in with the oil. This is why you should empty out the oil and change it if your generator is coming out after a season.  

Another thing to check for is metal shavings inside the oil. This is actually quite common, so it’s best to invest in a magnetic drain plus. This way, the metal shards will stick in one place and won’t damage the generator any more.

An oil filter should also be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Check the manual to see if your filter is replaceable. High-end models usually have this feature.

Oil Changing in the Winter

When the colder season rolls around, the oil in your generator could thicken up considerably.

Here’s a Great Tip About Wintertime Oil Changes

Oil has a tendency to be much thicker during the cold winter months. This means that your generator probably won’t start very easily, especially if the starter isn’t the electric kind. Even the fuel-efficient, quieter model can have this issue, especially if the temperature dips below freezing point.

The internal oil shut-down switch might be able to detect when the oil is on the low side. This could shut the whole unit down if the oil inside doesn’t flow properly after starting, as is usually the case when the consistency is thick.

When storing your generator for the winter or before starting it up in the cold season, you should consider switching to an oil with less viscosity. This will enable you to start up the generator without too many attempts and will also lubricate any moving parts.  

Proper Storage

There might come a time when you want to store away your generator for a long while. This might happen when you’re going away on vacation or only use the machine for the camping season. You hence need to learn how a portable generator is stored in a proper manner.

First off, put in a certain amount of fuel stabilizer into the tank and run the generator until there’s no gas left. Any gasoline inside the tank for a long period of time will start a varnishing process and go stale at the same time. It’ll turn into a sticky kind of sludge, which will affect the fuel lines, carburetor, and the tank itself. If this occurs, your generator might very well be useless when you finally want to turn it on.  

If you do want to store the generator with gasoline inside, keep topping off the gas tank. Any space left inside will attract water, which will settle inside and make things very difficult in the future.

There are also fuel additives available in the market, which might come in handy for adding to the gasoline while your generator is in storage. These might even dissolve the pesky varnish that keeps forming.

Changing the Fuel Filter

Your generator model might not have a fuel filter, but if it does, you need to add its maintenance to the checklist. Installing such a filter isn’t very difficult, as they’re mostly of the paper variety. It’s a logical idea to have a fuel filter on your machine, so do consider this possibility.

There are also some clear plastic options available, which allow you to detect any buildup quite easily. These also help us check whether any water has seeped into the gasoline. During installation, though, you have to make sure that the fuel flow into the carburetor remains unstructured.

Check the Spark Plugs

If your portable generator is becoming increasingly hard to start, the problem might lie in the spark plu. A fouled plug could be the result of sludge and carbon that might accumulate with extended use. In such situations, your generator’s spark plug might not even be able to produce a spark that’s hot enough for igniting the gasoline inside.

Cleaning the spark plug might be an option, but it’s a cheap and easy project to simply change them out. The best thing to do is to keep a couple handy at all times. If you find that the spark plugs are fouling up quite often, you might want to call someone in for tuning up the engine.

Maintaining the Starting System

The starting system or genset of your portable generator also needs some close attention from time to time. An electric starter, for instance, the battery shouldn’t sit idle without a recharging session every now and then. If you don’t use your generator regularly, consider installing a trickle charger that can slightly charge your battery while it’s in storage.

Another item to check off is the battery’s electrolyte level, If it gets too low, your battery has a high chance of failure unless it’s one of those no maintenance sealed varieties.

Finally, the pull cord is a must for inspection. If it isn’t kept up to the mark, it might rub away, fray,   and even break at the most inopportune moment. Change it up before this happens.


Whether you live in an off-grid home or want a portable generator on hand for camping trips, you need to keep this equipment in proper shape. This is necessary both for our convenience and safety while using the generator itself. It might cause some hassle and effort but bringing this maintenance into your routine will make your life much easier in the long run.