Problem-free winters

27 May 2015

Winter means problems not only for humans and animals, but machines as well. However, there are many ways in which you can store away your generators in a shed without any problems, while absolutely minimising shutdowns limited to an absolute minimum. In particular, the fuel, the battery, and the cooling circuit require special attention.

The fuel

When fuel freezes, diesel starts solidifying and forms paraffin crystals in the filters. To prevent this, add special anti-solidification additives to the diesel from mid-October till the end of March. It is extremely important to switch over to winter diesel well in time.

  • Use up all summer diesel in time. If certain generators or work site tanks still contain summer diesel, top them up with winter diesel so that they will be protected at least to some extent.
  • After switching over to winter diesel, ensure preventive replacement of the generator(s) fuel filter(s) so that crystals that have already formed cannot cause any problems.

The battery

The most common problems in winter are ignition problems caused by weak batteries. These problems tend to recur when the first heavy wintry weather sets in, and after long weekends or holidays.

Batteries must be charged to more than 75% to ensure problem-free ignition of a generator motor. Cold temperatures reduce battery capacity and can therefore make adequate charging impossible. Older batteries with capacities reduced by wear and tear are always the first to succumb to cold weather.

  • A battery has an average life of 4 years, depending on the type and use. If you notice reduced battery capacity, it is best to have it inspected and replaced if so required. The inspection of the battery (and of the alternator) is best done before wintry weather begins to set in.
  • Run the generator for a sufficiently long period without stopping, in order to fully charge up the battery. If when starting up the generator, you sensed ignition problems, never shut it down after running it for just a few minutes.
  • Also ensure that you completely disable the control panel when switching the generator off at night. The control panel may consume sufficient electricity during a long, cold night to fully discharge the battery.

The cooling circuit

The coolant discharges the heat generated by the combustion engine to the radiator, thereby ensuring that the motor runs at its ideal operating temperature. The coolant also protects the motor against internal corrosion and lubricates vital components like the water pump. The coolant protects the engine block against freezing in the winter.

It is crucially important for the coolant to contain sufficient antifreeze to protect the engine and the radiator even in extreme winter temperatures. The inadequate cooling caused by insufficient antifreeze can cause grave damage such as cracks in the radiator and/or the engine block or damage.

  • Ensure that you check the level and the coolant freezing point before the winter sets in
  • Replace the coolant after 5000 hours of operation – after excessively long use, the coolant acquires aggressive properties that can cause corrosion and can corrode internal water hoses.