The short answer to this question is a resounding YES, at least from the perspective of generator specialists. We’ve been working with diesel generators since long before “load shedding” was even a thing, and we’ve seen some scary things happen to generators that haven’t seen a spanner since their time on the factory assembly line. Is the cost of replacement higher than the cost of planned maintenance? This article takes a look at why generators need maintenance, why it’s better to prevent catastrophe instead of quelling it, and whether or not servicing a generator can actually save you money:
Why do generators need servicing?
In order to make sure that your generator kicks in when load shedding kicks in and the lights go off, generator technicians check on the gen set’s fluid & oil levels, oil filters, belts & hoses, connectors, lines, control panel, and exhaust system.
Generators that miss their important maintenance intervals are prone to producing carbon monoxide, which is lethal when breathed in by humans. Depending on where your generator is located, this could be a serious issue during times of prolonged operation.
During times of zero power outage threats, generators are often forgotten. If they aren’t used for long periods of time, generators suffer fuel issues as the internal fuel deteriorates over time. For this reason, it is recommended that generators have the fuel supply changed twice a year.
Prevention is better than cure
- With planned generator maintenance, critical gen set issues – that might cause complete breakdown if left unattended to – can be picked up and rectified earlier.
- Regular maintenance, as applicable to any mechanical device really, will greatly extend the lifespan of the generator and its individual components.
- The warm, snug inside of a generator set is an ideal home for all sorts of critters – including mice & rats (who love eating through wires and hoses), snakes, and other creepy crawlies.
Can generator servicing save money?
Once-off generator repairs are going to cost you, especially if the generator technician is being called out in the wee hours of the morning. Even more expensive is the cost of replacing an entire generator set. When you engage generator specialists about planned maintenance, where technicians come around on pre-defined dates to service your generator, you can save costs by committing to planned maintenance – thereby catering for generator maintenance instead of having to scramble for funds to repair or replace the generator when the worst happens.
Get generator maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal
S&A Generators has been providing exceptional generator repairs, generator maintenance, generator fuel refills, and generator installations in KZN for over 25 years. We are generator specialists on call 24/7, and travel the length and breadth of the KwaZulu-Natal province throughout the year – seeing to all manner of generator-related matters. Get in touch with us for any of your generator installation, repair, or maintenance needs.
S&A Generators recently partnered with Diesel Electric Services (DES) to replace an 11000 KVA transformer for a client in Umhlanga. The transformer replacement project occurred between 13 and 24 July 2019 and included removing and replacing the old transformer using a crane, fitting steel gratings, securing steel support beams, and building a new bung wall around the unit. Below you can find out more regarding what the issue was, how we facilitated an effective solution for the client, and photographs taken at various stages of the project:
S&A Generators removing the road closure for the transformer replacement.
Our client called us in to assess the state of an old transformer located indoors. After many years of operation, transformers become damaged and this causes them to overheat. Due to operating at higher than usual temperature, a transformer’s insulation will weaken – affecting its overall performance. Our assessment lead to the client deciding a transformer replacement was in order, so we contacted our friends at Diesel Electric Services (DES) and asked them to give us a hand.
Rigging the new transformer into place using a crane
Removing a transformer of this size, and then replacing it with a new one, is no easy task. This required the use of a crane, which meant we had to arrange a temporary road closure. We first had to deconstruct the brick bung wall that surrounded the old transformer, so as to give the crane access to the unit. We then carefully removed it, and replaced the transformer with a brand new one.
S&A team member guiding the transformer replacement as it is lowered into position by a crane
Once the new unit was in place, we fitted steel gratings and secured steel support beams. We also built a new bung wall around the transformer to catch and drain out any liquid without causing too much of a mess in the area.
The new transformer in position.
The transformer replacement end result: bung wall painted and in place
If you’re operating a business in South Africa, you’ve more than likely been affected by the periodic load shedding that Eskom implements as and when required. Chances are you’ve even invested in a diesel generator to keep your business operations going when the power goes out. This blog article takes a look at seven signs your generator might need generator specialists to take a look – so that it functions when you need it most…
How to Tell If Your Generator Needs Repairs
1. Excessive Leaks
The first sign of a faulty backup generator is the easiest to spot. If you notice puddles of diesel or other fluids underneath your generator, there’s a serious problem. If the liquid is diesel (or whatever fuel your generator runs on) you run the risk of using up a lot of fuel in a short period of time, which will cost you. If the fluid is coolant, you run the risk of your generator overheating after a while of operation. Be sure to call a generator maintenance team as soon as your generator seems to have sprung a leak.
2. Issues when Starting
So, the lights have gone out and Eskom says you’re experiencing stage 3 load shedding. You go outside to get the backup generator started, but it’s spluttering and spitting before eventually starting up. This could be due to it not being started for a while, and might not be an issue at all. However, if your generator is slugging to get going every time you switch it on, this is a sign of something more serious.
3. Damaged Components
Before starting up your generator, take a walk around it and visually inspect the components. When the lights stay on for weeks and months at a time, a generator is forgotten. However, this neglect as it were often leads to components becoming caked in dust or sun damaged. Be sure to inspect your generator’s wires and cables for wear, and feel each nut and bolt to make sure they’re as tight as can be. If you notice a component that is clearly damaged, rather call in a generator specialist to take a look before activating it.
4. Excessive Smoke
Been a long while since you had to use your backup generator? Chances are there’ll be a few puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust for the first few seconds of start-up. However, if the smoke doesn’t dissipate after a minute or two, there could be a serious underlying issue. If the smoke is black, it’s almost certainly a problem that will require attention from a professional. When smoking excessively, turn of your generator immediately to avoid causing any further damage.
5. Strange Noises
Most generators are extremely loud, and it might be hard to distinguish between the normal noises a generator makes and other uncommon sounds that could indicate issues. We always recommend listening carefully to your generator when it’s in operation, and if you hear any metal-on-metal noises, or rattles that seem to be getting louder, get the number of a generator professional and let them take a look.
6. High Fuel Usage
When purchasing your backup generator, you should be given an indication of how much fuel your generator can take – and how many hours of operation a full tank should offer. However, if you notice during times of power outages that your generator’s fuel consumption is increasing dramatically, this could be indicative of an issue. If you’re unsure as to how long your generator should be able to operate given your generator’s fuel capacity – and the load it is required to power, contact generator experts and let them assess your situation.
7. It’s Really Old
Has your generator been sitting there since your building was built back in the early 1980s? It might be an obvious one, but the older your generator is – the greater the chance it might need generator maintenance. If your generator is a golden oldie, find out from management when last it was serviced – if ever – and be sure to book a generator service before next starting it up.
Get 24/7 Generator Maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal
S&A Generators has over 25 years of experience in the generator and backup power industry. We’re skilled generator professionals specialising in generator installations, generator repairs, managed generator maintenance, and generator support. We’re also able to relocate generators – regardless of size – when moving premises. Contact us today for any and all of your generator-related needs in KwaZulu-Natal!
To keep your generator running smoothly, generator maintenance is essential. As South Africa still faces plenty of concern when it comes to load shedding, more homes and businesses are starting to look at back-up solutions such as standby generators. These tools help to ensure that the lights stay on, even when the national electricity grid comes to a stand-still. With that said, simply buying and installing a generator is only the first step. In order to get the most from your generator, you will need to look at a generator maintenance plan that keeps your device going strong throughout the year.
S&A Generators offers a comprehensive generator maintenance service that keeps your generator in optimal condition throughout the year. This means that it will be able to work as expected whenever it is needed, without any issues. Keep reading to learn more about our maintenance service options.
How often should I service my generator?
A Guide to Our Generator Maintenance Service
Our generator maintenance service includes monthly (inspection), quarterly (routine) and annual (major) services. Here’s a breakdown of what each service entails.
Monthly (Inspection) Service
Each month, our generator maintenance service covers the following tasks that help to spot any potential issues and make sure that your generator is working at its best:
- Thorough cleaning of your generator
- Checks for abnormalities and leaks
- Checks and top up of coolant
- Checks and top up of oil
- Checks and bleeding of water traps
- Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
- Checks of battery condition and charge rate
- Checks of the control panel
Quarterly (Routine) Service
Every quarter, we do a routine generator maintenance service that is designed to give you optimal usage of your generator. Tasks done during this service include the following:
- Cleaning of generator and plant room
- Checks for issues and leaks
- Operation of immersion heater and controls
- Checks of battery for issues
- Checks of coolant/oil levels and top ups
- Checks and bleeding of water traps
- Checks of the control panel
- Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
- Undertaking of mains fail on generator set/mains
Annual (Major) Service
Once a year, we perform a major service that ensures that your generator is still functioning at its best. The following is done during these services:
- Oil replacement
- Coolant replacement
- Changing of all filters
- Setting tappets to manufacturer’s recommendations
- Cleaning of generator and plant room
- Painting/touching up of exhaust housing
Get generator repairs
Along with our generator maintenance plans, we also provide maintenance as needed, although this can end up costing more than our service plans. We can also provide generator fuel top-ups as needed. To learn more about generator maintenance in Durban and surrounds, contact S&A Generators today.
How do you go about choosing the right generator? With load shedding still a very real risk in South Africa, finding the right power generators has become more important than ever. Generators used in a residential building are very different to those used in commercial buildings. The simplest way to determine the best generator size and capacity is to first consider your requirements and power usage on a day to day basis. Just taking size into account, generators typically come in three sizes – small (2kW to 7kW), medium (8kW to 20kW), and large (20kW to 40kW). The size of the generator will come down to the type of building and the average power needs.
There are a few other things that you will need to consider, too. In this short guide, we share some advice on how to select the right power generators for your specific type of building so that you can avoid loss of power in the event of scheduled or unscheduled power cuts.
How to Go About Choosing the Right Generators
Wondering which generator is the best choice for your building? Here are some of the things to consider when choosing power generators.
Smaller kVH generators are best suited for residential buildings. Backup or standby generators for houses are usually smaller and often portable. They are designed to provide power for light-to-moderate usage of various appliances that residential property would require. To determine the exact size, you would need to think about the items in your home that require the most amount of electricity. It’s best to consider the startup current as well as running power to make sure that larger items such as pool pumps do not overload the system when starting up.
Loads you will need to consider powering with your generator could including anything from lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and other rooms to plug points for appliances and devices, larger kitchen appliances such as fridges and freezers, smaller appliances such as kettles and microwaves, televisions and any related appliances, garage door openers, computers, and security systems such as alarms, electric fencing, and outdoor lighting.
Industrial & Commercial Buildings
For most commercial and industrial buildings, whether factories or retail outlets or businesses, larger generators are often a better solution. You will need to be able to fully power your business premises, store or commercial site in the event of a power cut. You will also need to run continuously until power returns. These generators are larger, with features such as automatic operation. This means that generators kick in as soon as the power goes out; shutting down once the power comes back on again. For any type of business, this is crucial to avoid downtime. If there are any gaps between power going out and generators going on, computers, security, lighting, and industrial machines run the risk of not running, which can cause major problems.
Although generators can be used to power the entire building, they can also be used for a single purpose. For example, standby generators could be used specifically for elevators, fire safety systems, emergency lighting, sump pumps or other essential services that cannot risk being offline at any point. For these systems, a large generator of at least 100kW is recommended. Smaller buildings may have different requirements depending on requirements and daily power usage. Smaller retail buildings may only need to power appliances and machines such as computers, security systems, and lighting, and may not require the same level of power as a large-scale factory, for example.
What size generator is needed to power a house?
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you have the right sized generator for your building is to speak to a specialist who can offer advice according to your individual requirements. Here at S&A Generators, we work with a wide range of residential and commercial clients, offering a range of generators in Durban to suit every need. Contact us today for expert advice on choosing the right generator for your building.