Portable Generator Safety – Do Not Do These 6 Things

You've got your portable generator, ready to power through any outage.

But hold up! Are you sure you're using it safely?

Don't make these six common mistakes.

We'll guide you on what not to do, helping you avoid serious mishaps.

Read on to ensure you're not just powered up, but also safe and sound.

Ignoring Manufacturer's Instructions

Ignoring the manufacturer's instructions when using your portable generator isn't just a bad idea, it's downright dangerous. Every generator is unique and comes with its own set of guidelines. When you disregard these, you're risking damage to your generator, your property, and even your life.

You might think you've got a handle on it because you've used one before, but that's a risky assumption. It's not just about turning it on and plugging in your devices. There's a correct order to follow, specific fuels to use, and safe distances to maintain. It's not worth taking a shortcut.

Operating in Enclosed Spaces

After you've carefully read and understood the manufacturer's instructions, it's crucial to remember never to operate your portable generator in enclosed spaces. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide building up, which is deadly. This colorless, odorless gas can kill you before you're even aware of its presence.

So, ensure you place your generator outside, at least 20 feet away from your home, windows, and doors. Avoid using it in your garage, even if the doors are open. Also, don't forget to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. They're your best defense against this silent killer.

Overloading Your Generator

While it might be tempting to power all your appliances at once, you shouldn't overload your generator as it can cause serious damage to your equipment and even pose a fire risk. Overloading your generator creates an excess of heat which could lead to melting or burning of wires, possibly resulting in a fire.

It's crucial to know your generator's power capacity and ensure you're not exceeding it. If you're unsure, consult the user manual or a professional. Also, remember to unplug devices you're not using to avoid unnecessary load.

Regularly check the generator while it's operating, to identify any signs of overloading. Be smart, be safe, and avoid overloading your generator.

Neglecting Proper Ventilation

You mightn't realize it, but neglecting proper ventilation when operating your portable generator can have serious consequences.

It's not just about keeping the air around you clean, but also about keeping you safe from harmful carbon monoxide emissions.

Let's explore the risks associated with carbon monoxide and discuss some appropriate ventilation methods to mitigate these dangers.

Carbon Monoxide Risks

One must never underestimate the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning when operating a portable generator without proper ventilation. This colorless, odorless gas is deadly, and since you can't see or smell it, you mightn't even realize it's building up.

Always run your generator outdoors, away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. If you're using it in a garage, make sure the garage door is wide open. Don't assume you're safe because you can't smell exhaust fumes; carbon monoxide is stealthy and silent.

Invest in a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector for added safety. Remember, neglecting proper ventilation isn't just risky, it's potentially lethal.

Proper Ventilation Methods

Don't make the mistake of neglecting proper ventilation; it's essential to follow these four methods when operating your portable generator.

Firstly, always use your generator outdoors, away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow exhaust to enter indoors.

Secondly, ensure the exhaust is directed away from any occupied spaces, to prevent inhalation of harmful fumes.

Thirdly, never operate your generator inside a home, garage, or other enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.

Lastly, regularly check your generator for blockages in the exhaust system that could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Skipping Regular Maintenance

You might think skipping regular maintenance on your portable generator isn't a big deal, but you'd be wrong.

It's not just about keeping it running smoothly; it's about safety too.

Let's discuss the importance of routine checks, common oversights, and what could go wrong when maintenance is neglected.

Importance of Routine Checks

Neglecting routine maintenance checks on your portable generator isn't just a mistake, it's a safety hazard. Remember, you're dealing with a device that generates power and can cause harm if not properly maintained. Its performance and lifespan depend on your diligence in carrying out these checks.

Skimping out on regular maintenance could lead to sudden breakdowns, affecting your power source when you need it the most. It could also lead to dangerous conditions, such as fuel leaks or overheating, which can cause fires or other serious accidents.

Regular inspections can help you spot potential issues early on, saving you from costly repairs or replacements. So, don't take these routine checks lightly. They're crucial for your safety and the generator's efficiency.

Common Maintenance Oversights

Despite your best intentions, skipping routine maintenance on your portable generator can lead to major problems over time. It's easy to forget, but the consequences can be costly.

Overlooking simple tasks such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and filter cleanings can cause your machine to run inefficiently or even break down. Don't underestimate the importance of regular inspections, either. They're key in detecting minor issues before they escalate.

Lack of maintenance can also void your warranty, leaving you on the hook for expensive repairs. So, don't fall into the trap of neglect. Stay on top of your generator's upkeep. It'll save you headaches, time, and money down the line.

Consequences of Negligence

Without regular maintenance, your portable generator's performance can plummet, leading to severe and costly issues down the road. A neglected generator won't provide the power you need in an emergency. It's also more likely to fail prematurely, forcing you to buy a replacement sooner than expected.

Poorly maintained generators are also a fire risk, especially if fuel leaks occur. Moreover, a faulty generator can produce deadly carbon monoxide, putting you and your loved ones at risk.

Refuelling While Running

Even though it may seem convenient, you should never refuel your portable generator while it's still running. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to serious injuries. Imagine pouring gasoline into a hot engine – the heat can cause the fuel to ignite, leading to an explosion.

It's not just the flames you need to worry about. The fumes from the gasoline are also highly combustible and can be ignited by a single spark. So, always turn off your generator and let it cool before refueling.

It's better to be patient and wait for a few minutes than to risk a fire or explosion. Remember, safety should always come first when dealing with machinery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Safety Gear Should I Wear When Operating a Portable Generator?

When operating a portable generator, you should always wear protective gear. This includes sturdy gloves, safety goggles, and closed-toe shoes. Don't forget to protect your hearing by wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.

Can I Use a Portable Generator During Bad Weather Conditions?

You shouldn't use a portable generator during bad weather conditions. It's unsafe due to potential water exposure which can lead to electrocution. Always ensure you're operating it in a dry and well-ventilated area.

How Can I Safely Transport My Portable Generator?

To safely transport your portable generator, ensure it's off and cooled down. Don't fuel it until you've reached your destination. Secure it properly to prevent movement and damage during transit. Always handle with care.

What Is the Safe Distance to Keep My Portable Generator From My House or Camping Site?

You're asking about the safe distance for your generator. You should always keep your portable generator at least 20 feet away from your house or camping site to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It's a crucial safety measure.

What Should I Do if My Portable Generator Isn't Starting?

If your portable generator isn't starting, first check the fuel and oil levels. If they're fine, inspect the spark plug. Still no luck? It's time to consult your user manual or contact a professional.


In conclusion, don't make these common mistakes with your portable generator.

Always read the manufacturer's instructions.

Never operate it in enclosed spaces or overload it.

Ensure it's properly ventilated and don't skip regular maintenance.

And remember, never refuel it while it's running.

These precautions will keep you safe and prolong your generator's life.

It's not just about having a backup power source, it's also about using it sensibly and safely.