Is your generator ready for hurricane season?

June 17, 2009 3:37:33 PM PDT
The 2009 hurricane season is underway and while there is nothing currently brewing in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, now is the time to get one piece of your hurricane kit ready -- the generator. After Hurricane Ike, it may need some special attention so it will work the next time the lights go out. If you pushed your generator to the back of the garage after Ike and have not given it a second glance, chances are it is not ready for the next storm.

If your generator was not stored properly or has not been started in months, you may be in for a surprise the next time you need it.

Elvis Bolivar from the University Lawnmower Shop is seeing a steady stream of generators that will not start. The reason? Gasoline that was left in the generator has gone bad.

"It spoils, gums up, and then it clogs everything inside the ports and it will not go anymore," Bolivar explained.

If you drained your generator of gas before storing it, the carburetor should be fine, but few people take the steps to get their generators ready for the winter and now those devices need a mechanic's touch to get them running again.

"You are going to have to take them to a professional, tear them apart, pull the fuels lines out and take the carburetors off the machine," Bolivar said.

Repair shops are already seeing generator repair orders as a few people get prepared for the next hurricane.

"[The gas] was in there so long that it turned to varnish and coated the inside," Kevin Habegger from the Southwest Mower Service Center explained. "At that point you have to take it apart, manually clean it, and then put it back together."

Replacing parts can take a few days and mechanics say those who wait until a storm is bearing down on Houston to take action may not get their generator fixed in a timely manner.

"When you get under the gun and a storm is brewing in the Gulf and you find you need pieces, a lot of times you find the shops are sold out on the parts you need, like the gaskets and stuff to get it back together," Habegger said.

The repair costs should run less than $150, unless you need a new carburetor or other major part. Most generators will just need basic repairs.

If you've been restarting your generator every month, you should be fine. You can also repair your own generator if you have the tools and the skill, but most folks need a professional to do this.

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