How to Winterize My Generator
Winter is a season of cold weather and harsh conditions that can be hard on many things, like your vehicle or home—and your generator.
That’s why, if you’re hoping to keep your own standby generator around for the long haul, it’s important to prepare it for the upcoming season. Taking the time to winterize a generator can help you catch minor repair needs before they become more expensive, and it helps to ensure your generator will be ready when you need it if a winter storm cuts off your power. Make sure to read up on what to do if your generator won’t start in cold weather so that you can ensure you always have power in the winter weather.
Read on to understand how to winterize a generator and why it matters.
Why Does My Generator Need to Be Winterized?
As the season sets in, winterizing your generator will consist of two main tasks:
- Preparing the generator for long-term storage
- Preparing the generator for use if it’s needed amid a winter storm
The maintenance tasks you’ll take care of with these efforts will help ensure your generator continues to perform at its best over the course of its lifespan.
What Happens if I Don’t Prepare My Generator for Winter?
Neglecting to prepare your generator for extreme weather could come with unfortunate consequences.
- Damage or leaks could go unnoticed and worsen over time.
- Debris buildup inside the generator could damage the engine or other components the next time it’s used.
- Skipping maintenance tasks could worsen your generator’s overall performance and shorten its lifespan—or even make it unsafe to use.
- Improperly storing your generator could create fire or other safety risks.
While portable generators may not be as costly as standby generators, they’re still a sizable investment. So, it’s worth taking the time to care for them properly to help ensure they’ll last as long as possible.
How to Winterize a Generator
Not sure how to winterize generators? The following are some of the most important items to add to your to-do list as you prepare your portable generator for storage and use during winter.
Give the Generator a Thorough Cleaning
To reduce the risk of rust and corrosion, give your generator a deep clean before stowing it away for the season. Dust off and wipe away dirt and other debris as needed. Just be careful not to get the electrical panel or engine parts wet.
Pick the Right Place to Store the Generator
When it’s time to store your generator, you’ll need to pick out a safe location where it can be protected from damage. This helps ensure it’s ready for use when you need it.
Portable generators should be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. They should be protected from the elements, and the generator's ventilation should never be obstructed.
Clean and Re-Oil Your Air Filter
Your generator’s air filter keeps debris from entering the engine, where it could otherwise build up and cause damage over time. However, without regular maintenance, your filter could clog and reduce your engine’s air intake, which could inhibit its performance, cause damage, and even shorten its lifespan.
How often DuroMax portable generators’ air filters should be cleaned and re-oiled will depend on the generator. Requirements for yours will be outlined in the “maintenance schedule” section of your owner’s manual.
To clean your portable generator’s air filter:
- Remove the air filter housing cover.
- Remove the air filter elements and clean them in mild, soapy water.
- Rinse the air filter elements.
- Allow the air filter elements to dry completely (ideally overnight).
- Apply a small amount of oil to each filter and wring them to evenly distribute it.
- Place the air filter elements back in their generator housing.
- Replace the air filter housing cover.
Check for Leaks and Damage
The sooner you can inspect your generator, the earlier you can identify repair needs before they become more serious—and more costly.
Watch out for:
- Oil or fuel leaks
- Damaged wires
- Rust and corrosion
Change Your Oil
Just like your vehicle, your portable generator needs regular oil changes to ensure it stays clear of debris and can function the way it needs to. A well-oiled generator will run more efficiently and is less prone to overheating.
DuroMax generators’ oil change intervals and other requirements can be found in the owner’s manual for your specific generator.
If you’ve ever changed your vehicle’s engine oil at home, the process of changing your portable generator’s oil is quite similar.
To change your generator’s oil:
- Place a drain pan under the generator.
- Remove the oil drain bolt/fill plug.
- Allow the oil to empty into the drain pan.
- Refill the generator with the correct motor oil type.
- Replace the oil fill plug.
DuroMax generators can use 10W-30 or 5W-30 oil however after the initial break-in period we recommend Synthetic Oil. Note: 5W-30 is recommended for below-freezing temperatures.
In addition to performing regular oil changes at the necessary intervals, you should also check your generator’s oil before each new use.
Drain the Fuel Tank
If you plan to store your generator longer than 30 days, you’ll want to drain your generator’s fuel tank of any gasoline to prevent problems like corrosion.
To drain your generator fuel tank:
- Close the fuel valve.
- Remove the fuel valve drain cap and its sediment filter.
- Place a gas container under the fuel valve.
- Open the fuel valve and allow the fuel to drain into your gas container.
- Replace the fuel valve drain cap.
If you plan to store your generator for less than 30 days, you can add a fuel stabilizer additive to its gasoline to protect the generator from corrosion.
Please note that some portable generator models might have alternate instructions for draining the gasoline. Always consult your generator manual for maintenance instructions for your specific generator.
Drain the Carburetor
In addition to draining the gas tank, you’ll also need to drain your carburetor of fuel to avoid corrosion risk. Even if you run your generator until the engine stalls out, there may still be some remaining fuel in the carburetor.
To drain the carburetor:
- Place a container underneath the carburetor to capture the fuel.
- Loosen the carburetor drain bolt.
- Remove the drain bolt and allow the fuel to empty into the container.
Inspect the Battery
For long periods between uses, consider placing your battery on a battery tender until it’s time to bring out your generator again.
Look out for signs of battery corrosion before putting your generator to use again.
Protect It from the Elements
Snow and sleet do not mix well with engines or electricity. You’ll need to make sure your generator is protected from the elements while it’s in storage and while you’re using it.
If necessary, you can use a weatherproof generator cover with adequate ventilation to protect your generator during use in winter weather.
If you’re hoping to use your generator in an emergency, you may not have the opportunity to drive somewhere and stock up on fuel after the fact—making it crucial to have that fuel on hand ahead of time.
Luckily, DuroMax’s Dual Fuel generators can take both gasoline and propane, and our Tri Fuel generator can also run on natural gas. The additional flexibility will be much appreciated when the availability and prices of different fuel types may vary.
Have Your Necessary Accessories on Hand
Every home portable generator setup will be different. However, having the right accessories—like durable extension power cords—at the ready can make complicated setups in an urgent situation that much easier.
Prepare Your Generator for Storage
If you expect the winter months mean your generator will spend an extensive amount of time in storage, you’ll need to take some steps to ensure it works properly the next time you need to use it.
What those steps include depends on whether you expect your generator to remain in storage for more or less than 30 days.
If you expect to store your generator for less than 30 days before the next use:
- Add a fuel stabilizer if there is remaining gas in the tank.
- Turn your main breaker to the “off” position and let the generator run for 3-5 minutes.
- Turn the fuel valve off and let the generator run until it stalls.
Turn the battery switch to the “off” position. (If applicable)
If you expect to store your generator longer than 30 days:
- Turn the main breaker to the “off” position and let the generator run for 3-5 minutes.
- Turn the fuel valve off and let the generator run until it stalls.
- Turn the battery switch to the “off” position.
- Completely empty the gas tank.
- Drain the carburetor.
- Remove the spark plug.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the cylinder.
- Remove the generator battery and place it on a 12V battery tender in a suitable indoor location.
Finally, store your generator in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area until it’s ready for use.
Your generator manual will outline these steps in more detail if you need additional guidance.
Remember Periodic Test Runs
To ensure your generator stays in good working order, plan to let it run for about half an hour or so every three months. Without running the engine periodically, parts will lose protection from oil coverage, rubber seals and hoses may begin cracking, and other issues might emerge.
Let it Snow—You Have a DuroMax Generator
The winter weather outside may be frightful, but a DuroMax portable generator can keep the inside of your home feeling delightful.
If harsh winter weather causes a power outage, don’t let your home go dark. Having a portable DuroMax Generator on standby—one that’s been properly winterized, of course—can help you power your home’s most essential items until the lights come back on.
Do you live in a place where a snowstorm isn’t the biggest threat, but maybe a hurricane? DuroMax can help you with all of your hurricane-related questions as well, whether it be how to prepare for a hurricane , what to do during a hurricane , or if a hurricane generator fits your home’s needs.
Another plus: Our Dual Fuel and Tri Fuel generators can give you more options after a severe weather event when fuel can be in short supply.
If you’re not sure how much power you should look for in a generator, we offer a quick and easy quiz to help you find out, and our product specialists are happy to answer additional questions you may have about your particular needs. Get ahead of your winter storm preparation by ensuring you have a reliable DuroMax generator today.