Are You Missing Something During Generator Maintenance?

Emergency Power

We’ve received a lot of great feedback over these past few weeks talking about Emergency Power Supply Systems. From very early on, one of our goals as a company was to reach professionals in our industry and reinforce good habits in the trade so that we may all benefit from each other’s diligence and safe work practices. This philosophy applies to everything from routine safety practices to electrical engineering, and everything in between.

As electricians, we often work on equipment that has been under the care of another professional before us and will likely be maintained by someone else after us. If you aren’t taking pride in your work and taking the time to perform your task properly, you could potentially be creating unsafe work environments for future personnel accessing that equipment. When you consider the lasting effects of your job performance, and not just your ability to do the task, you begin to understand the importance of training, focus, and follow-through.

This week we’ve teamed up with our good friends over at CCPS (Central Coast Power Services) to give you a more in depth look at some common issues that arise when it comes to generator maintenance. We asked Andrew Clapp, Director of Operations and Projects, for what he considers the most important things to keep in mind during a generator maintenance. He also provided the most common mistakes found when they are called to troubleshoot a generator.

“The number one thing getting overlooked during a generator PM is definitely the proper maintenance to perform on a battery. Too often techs simply use the engine as the supplemental load and set the meter to min/max and only record the voltage drop. The correct way would be to bring in a supplemental load on the battery and test what the CCA is of the battery. Very similar to what auto parts stores do with their battery testers.”

Top 3 Things Missed During a PM

  1. Battery condition and maintenance
  2. Breaker left in the open position
  3. Unit left “OFF” instead of “AUTO” mode

As you can see, the range of knowledge required to be fully competent in your profession can be wide, and simple mistakes can still happen. For examples of simple mistakes, my mind always jumps to the disgruntled IT tech asking, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” However, this is also an example of poor customer service. And if I’ve learned anything from thirty plus years in the industry, it’s that treating every call out as an opportunity to earn a new customer absolutely needs to be a top priority. Anyone who will tell your otherwise, probably wouldn’t be able to keep you as a client for very long.

We discussed some basics for generator maintenance in an earlier article, as well as touched on some tips and requirements straight from NFPA 110 on what you need to have for a successful maintenance program. Keep in mind, if you have personnel who are trained and qualified to work on your equipment, that documentation must be kept on file and readily accessible. If your facility does not have qualified personnel, then you need to use a trusted outside contractor like CCPS. And as always, you should be referring straight to the NFPA Standards for all electrical maintenance performed at your facility.

For example: NFPA 110 Figure A.8.3.1(a) and (b) fully outline what inspections and maintenance should be performed weekly and monthly on your system. If you follow this format, or adapt your own that meets the standard, you should be able to ensure smoother operation when your EPS is needed.

Quick Reference: the standard requires weekly that a qualified person to inspect the fuel levels, lubrication system, coolant system, exhaust system, battery system, electrical system, prime mover, generator, and take care of any general housekeeping in the EPS area. And as I’ve mentioned before, logs must be kept of these maintenance procedures that include the date of maintenance, type of maintenance, and ID of qualified personnel performing the task. If during inspection there are found to be abnormal or unsatisfactory conditions related to the components or equipment, remarks are to be recorded that will include the repairs made and the replacement parts used. Follow-up testing of the repairs is also to be recorded and performed as per the manufacturer’s recommended specifications.

If you’re looking for more information on generator maintenance and testing, need help understanding the Standards or requirements, or for an evaluation of your EPSS, feel free to contact us and we’ll be sure to get you pointed in the right direction.

I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Andrew Clapp at CCPS for helping us out this week. You can find out more about CCPS and their team of sharp technicians at their website.


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