Factors to consider if you install a generator for your home
Submitted by: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector Lic GI 0121, President of Accurate Inspections, Inc, a New Jersey home inspection company
Use of Portable Generators
Some people use emergency generators to provide back-up power. While generators can be used in a safe manner, improper use of a generator can pose significant hazards to you and your family. Hazards include electric shock, carbon monoxide poisoning, explosion and fire.
Prevention of Electrical Shock
It is extremely important to insure that your generator does not feed electricity back into the power distribution system. You should consult with a qualified electrician to insure that your generator installation is safe.
Since the generator must be operated outside your home, it is important for it to be equipped with a ground fault interrupter.
Only use grounded type extension cords that have the rated capacity to handle the given electrical load.
Inspect all extension cords prior to use and never use a damaged cord.
Do not run extension cords through water or across wet surfaces.
Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide (CO), but at high levels it can kill a person within minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause. Never operate a generator in an enclosed place including your garage or near an open door or window.
Gasoline safety tips
Always store gasoline in containers approved for the storage of gasoline.
Never store gasoline in your home. Keep it in a detached garage or tool shed.
Never fill your generator when it is running or when it is hot. Wait until it is cool before filling.
Always refuel your generator outside away from any source of ignition.
When refilling gasoline cans, always place the cans on the ground. Never fill a can that is in the bed of a truck or in a vehicle.
Never transport gasoline in the trunk of your car.
Only store a reasonable amount of gasoline. The maximum quantity of gasoline stored should not exceed (10) gallons.
Hazards of Gasoline
Gasoline vapors burn not the liquid.
Gasoline will produce sufficient vapors to burn at any temperature above 44o Fahrenheit.
The vapors are heavier than air and can travel a considerable distance before finding an ignition source.
Static electricity will ignite gasoline vapors.
Gasoline is lighter than water. Using water on a gasoline fire will spread the fire.
Gasoline is poisonous and can be fatal if swallowed
Buying a home in New Jersey? www.NewJerseyHomeInspection.com
has a listing of home inspectors in all counties of new Jersey. New Jersey Home Inspections are performed by the author of this artical Michael Del Greco in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic Counties.