Generators have got our back in emergencies if we’ve got theirs when they’re in need. Fail to give them the TLC they deserve, and there’s a good chance they’ll leave you high and dry when grid power ghosts you, and one of the regular maintenance practices you should be working into your routine is an oil change.
It can be a tedious task, but it’s one of the most important aspects of generator care. On the plus side, it’s a remarkably easy task provided you have your generator’s user manual to hand.
And to take even more sting out of this job, I’ll be guiding you through a 10-step oil-change method that applies to pretty much every generator on the market.
What You’ll Need To Change Generator Oil?
Before we begin, you’ll need to gather the following supplies:
- New oil — Make sure it’s the right type
- New filter — Again, make sure it’s the right one for your generator model
- An empty canister for draining the oil
- Protective gloves
- Protective glasses
- An oil funnel
- The appropriate socket wrench
- An oil filter wrench
- Flat-head and Phillips-head screwdrivers
Changing Generator Oil: A Step-By-Step Guide
Gathered all the supplies listed above? Perfect; let’s get down to business!
Step 1 — Safety First
Always consider your own health and safety before your generator’s. Don your safety gloves and glasses.
Step 2 — Warm The Old Oil
If you’ve ever owned a deep-fat fryer, you’ll know that oil is far less viscous when it’s heated up, so to make your job easier, run your generator for 3 to 4 minutes to warm up the residual oil. Once heated, it’ll drain much quicker and more completely.
Step 3 — Set Your Generator Up On Blocks
Set up some blocks on a big, strong table, then place your generator on top of them. You can set blocks up on the ground if it’s an even surface, but to save you from bending over for the rest of this guide, use a table if you’ve got one. Why the blocks?
Well, you want to create a decent amount of space between the oil plug and the table (or ground) to make drainage easier. If your generator is too beefy to pick up and set on blocks, ask someone to come and give you a hand to get it up there. It needs to be securely seated, so take your time with the placement.
Step 4 — Disconnect The Spark Plug
The last thing you want is for your generator to fire up unexpectedly mid-way through the oil change, so next up, you need to carefully disconnect the spark plug. It can be tricky to find these little connections, as they may be hidden behind plastic covers, so, if need be, consult your user manual.
Particularly powerful generators may have multiple spark plugs, so, again, a quick flick-through of your user manual will clue you up on what needs to be done here. Once you’ve located this covert connection, ever so gently remove the wire connected to it.
The safest way to do so is to grip the spark wire boot firmly, then curl it back and forth whilst pulling it away from the spark plug. Even if there’s a little bit of rust or corrosion around the spark plug, the curling motion will free the wire up.
Step 5 — Locate The Drainage Plug
You’re almost ready to drain the oil, but to do so, you’ll need to locate the drainage plug. Plugs are normally ⅜” nuts with square or hexagonal heads, but this won’t always be the case.
Step 6 — Prepare Your Drainage Container
Set your container directly beneath the oil plug. Depending on the distance between the plug and the container, you may want to lay some old rags around to catch any splashes.
Step 7 — Pull The Plug
If your generator has the standard ⅜”, you’ll of course need to use a ⅜” socket and a ratchet to loosen it up. When the plug is nearly off, put your ratchet down and finish taking it off with your hand.
Get ready, though, for as soon as you remove it, the oil, it will be a-flowin’. Allow plenty of time for the old oil to vacate the reservoir.
Side Note — Never pour old oil in the trash, as it can seep into the earth of a landfill and even infect water supplies. Take it to a specialty recycling facility to dispose of it.
Step 8 — Switch Out The Filter
Grab your oil filter wrench and pop the oil filter out. If you don’t know where it is, consult your manual again. Just like you did with your socket and ratchet, use your oil filter wrench to loosen the filter most of the way, then remove it manually.
The filter might be quite hot after running your generator, so it’s essential that you’re wearing robust protective gloves. Once it’s off, hold it above the drainage container for a little bit, as there might be a bit of run-off. Check the filter sealing frame for damage and debris.
If it’s structurally sound, give it a quick wipe down, then lubricate the gasket of your new filter with some fresh oil, and start fixing it in place manually. Once it’s fitted, secure it with your filter tool. Be careful not to damage your new filter by over-tightening it.
Step 9 — Tighten The Plug
You’re almost ready to replenish the oil reservoir, but remember to tighten the drainage plug back up — You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget this part! Same again… tighten the plug manually until it’s set in place, then secure it with your socket wrench. Next, pop the oil cap and place your funnel inside the reservoir.
Step 10 — Pour New Oil
And finally, pour the new oil through the funnel and into the reservoir, keeping the maximum capacity in mind. Once the oil has been replenished, secure the oil cap in place, and that’s that — Job done!
While no one looks forward to changing the oil in their generator, it’s not the most challenging of tasks once you know how it’s done. I know just as well as anyone how easy it is to put his job off, but if you want your generator to stand the test of time, you’ll stick to a strict maintenance schedule.