When you live in Texas, you can expect extreme weather. We get wind storms, ice storms, tornados, and, of course, hurricanes. Any of these events can tear down power lines. And many of us have considered buying a backup generator at one time or another. And some of us have already purchased one. So, when we see approaching storms, we need to be prepared. We also need to be aware of safety precautions for our appliances and our backup generators. Click2Houston has an article discussing some of the details of generator safety.
Safety guide for powering up portable generators
By Amy Davis – Reporter/Consumer Expert
Posted: 7:27 AM, August 25, 2017Updated: 11:41 AM, August 25, 2017
Some homeowners invest in portable generators just for storms like Harvey where many could lose power. If you’re thinking about buying one or if you have one you haven’t used in a while, consumer expert Amy Davis has some advice from the professionals to make sure you stay safe in the storm.
You can get a medium-sized portable generator that will power your fridge, a deep freeze and a couple of circuits in your home for lighting for about $600 to $700. If you already have one sitting in your garage, you need to get it out now to make sure it is working if the power goes out for an extended period of time.
So much of Houston was in the dark after Hurricane Ike in 2008, the city of Houston imposed a week-long curfew. Some families stuck inside their own homes with no power relied on generators to run fans and refrigerators.
That was 9 years ago. Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning and Electrical licensed electrician Angel Torres says it’s time to check yours to make sure it will help this time around.
You will need gas and you need to check the oil. If it’s dirty or dark, you need to change it. Portable generators won’t keep your whole house powered, just a couple of appliances; and you can’t let them run non-stop.
“I would run it like 3 to 4 hours and then let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes,” said Torres. “And then start it back up.”
Generators should stay outside, so you will need extension cords long enough to reach the appliance you want to power. They can withstand the rain; but make sure cables and the generator itself are not sitting in water.
Because carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat, you should position your generator to protect your family from those deadly fumes.
“Your exhaust is gonna come out through here, so you want it to go out that way,” explained Torres, motioning away from the home. “You don’t want it to go back inside your house.”
Start the generator first; then plug in the cords for appliances.
Before the storm, you can test it by plugging in just a lamp to make sure it’s working.
After you use your generator, you shouldn’t let the gas and oil just sit in it. You need to siphon it out or Torres says you can put a fuel saver like Seafoam into the gas tank. That will protect the gas for about 6 months.
Portable generators can be a good investment, especially if you have additional uses for them, like power tools. However, there are some other considerations before investing in one. Portable generators require manual operation and close monitoring. So, not only will you have to physically start and stop the engine, you must keep it full of gas. After a big storm, you may not have the ability to get gas and oil for quite some time. Another consideration is that a portable generator can only power a couple of appliances and even then, it can’t run constantly. So, you may have to decide if the lights or the refrigerator will get power.
Another option is a standby generator, like those made by Generac. These whole house generators keep your home fully functional. In a bad storm, your power can be out for days or even longer. This means you may not have air conditioning, refrigeration for food, lights or the ability to charge phones and radios.
Standby generators are quieter and safer than portable models and they operate automatically. Since they are fueled by propane or natural gas, they are very energy efficient. They will provide power to your home within seconds of a power failure and switch off automatically once utilities have been restored, even when you are not home. However, these systems are more expensive. They require a licensed, experienced electrician to inspect the electrical system and install the appropriately sized generator for your home. They will also need regular maintenance to ensure they are safe and reliable. Standby generators will recoup a significant amount of their cost upon resale of the house. And for some families with medical issues, the availability of constant power for medical equipment can save lives.
For more information about standby generators, visit our Abacus webpage or give us a call and schedule a consultation with one of our professional electricians.
Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical is a full-service residential contractor that has been serving the greater Houston area for over 50 years. Abacus is a member of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce and has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau of Houston. Abacus is licensed and insured and offers 24/7 emergency service. To learn more about Abacus Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, visit www.abacusplumbing.net or call (832) 554-9951. License Numbers: ALAN O'NEILL M-20628 | TACLB82488E | TECL 39119
Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical services the greater DFW area including, but not limited to: Houston, Humble, Baytown, Bellaire, Conroe, Katy, Spring, Sugar Land, The Woodlands and more. Check out Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical reviews or see Abacus A+ BBB to confirm Abacus is a company you can trust.