The Do's And Don'ts Of Using A Generator During A Power Outage

When there is a power outage in your home, do you know the right way to handle it? It is important to find an alternative power source and remain safe while also avoiding some common mistakes if you have a generator. Here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind.

Do: Inspect the cords for damage

It is extremely dangerous to plug in a generator if it has exposed wires or frayed wires. Make sure you inspect the cords before a power outage occurs. This prevents you from dealing with a potentially disastrous situation if it is dark and you plug in the generator, not realizing it has frayed wires that could cause electrocution. If the cords look damaged but you aren't quite sure if they need to be replaced, contact an electrician to inspect them.

Do: Connect the generator with a transfer switch

Your generator should not be plugged directly into an outlet in your home. Instead, plug it into a transfer switch, which is then connected to the electrical panel. This is a manual switch, so all you do is turn the switch on when you need to run the generator. Have an electrician connect it to the electrical panel so you can be sure it is installed correctly and safely. It will be connected to the circuits you would like to run in your home during a blackout, such as lights and electrical appliances.

Don't: Set it and forget it

There may be long stretches of time where you have no need for the generator, but that doesn't mean you should just leave it. Your generator will need to have fresh gasoline added every month or so. This will allow it to run efficiently when you do need it. It is also a good idea to add a gasoline stabilizer to it. Make sure you switch on the transfer switch about once a month around the same time you are adding fresh gasoline. Leave it running for a few minutes with new gas in it. This allows you to find any potential issues before you actually need the generator.

Don't: Run the generator without protection

While the generator should not be placed inside your home or in an attached garage, you also don't want it outside where it could get damaged by rain and snow. Instead, keep it somewhere with an overhang or portable shelter. Many people keep the generator in their shed because it is close enough to get to safely, but not too close. Regardless of the option you choose, make sure it is a clean, dry area that is accessible if the power goes out.