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    Assembling a get home bag Something is wrong. You don't know what it is. Your car won't start. No planes over head. No sounds of cars on the highway. Do you have a Get Home Bag? Do you have water? Can you make fire? Having a get home bag is important when you are away […]
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  • Garden Preparation For Spring
    Garden Preparation Getting a Garden Spot Ready for Spring Prepare a garden spot for spring planting by using some high mil black plastic. The black plastic will screen out the sun light killing any grass under it. Prepping a garden spot can also be done by placing cardboard over the area to be used [Read […]
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    Char Cloth Today I will show you how to make char cloth and charcoal. Some cotton cloth. Some pieces of wood. A small metal tin with one small hole punched in it. Add some fire and you can make char cloth to start a campfire and charcoal for writing on hard surfaces when you [Read […]

Generator Servicing and Maintenance

Servicing your generator is an important thing to place on your to do list at your home or homestead. A generator is quite often thought of as being very useful tool during a power outage, and it is. The generator's usage is for far more than power outages only.

generator service

Generator

A generator can be easily transported to anyplace on your homestead or in your yard where power it is not easily accessible. Whether using a pole saw to prune limbs from trees, shaping bushes or using a drill and the many other things that can be accomplished with the usage of a generator.

In this YouTube video I explain and show you how to maintain your generator.

Maintaining your equipment is very important. The maintenance on a generator is no different than the maintenance on any other small engine. Whether it is a lawn mower, pressure washer or any other piece of equipment that uses a small engine.

Oil Change

The first thing we will do is change the oil. You  will need an oil drip pan, a wrench of suitable size to fit the drain plug of the small engine. A rag of some type and a funnel. Once these items have been assembled, slide the oil pan under the oil drain plug of the generator engine and loosen it. While the oil is draining out, check the drain plug and gasket for cracks or any other damage. Wipe away any build up or sludge that may appear on the drain plug or gasket and clean them thoroughly.

Once the oil has completely stop dripping from the engine, replace the plug. Tighten the drain plug fairly tight but do not over tighten or you will damage the seal. Checking the literature that came with your generator or small engine, find out what weight and type of motor oil the manufacturer suggests be placed in the engine. Also check the amount required and this this amount into the engine. Once you have refill the oil reservoir, place the oil dipstick back into its threaded receptacle. Turn it back out and check the oil level. If it's full, great! If it is not, add enough oil to bring the level up to the full mark on the dipstick.

Air Filter

Our next check is the air filter.

The air filter, located on the side of the carburetor opposite the engine, is important to be kept clean so the engine can operate properly. A dirty air filter will cause your engine to miss, flood and sometimes not operate at all if it is not maintained properly.

Find the air filter canister and remove its cover. Usually it is attached with one or more thumb screws. Once the cover has been removed, you should use compressed air to blow through the filter to remove dust and other particles. Blow from the engine side of the filter out to dislodge the dirt and dust. If you do not have an air compressor, you can simply strike the foam air filter on a hard surface to dislodge as much of the particulate matter as possible.

Before returning the filter to the canister, cover the carburetor opening with a clean shop rag and blow the air cleaner canister out, removing any dust, dirt or foreign matter. Once this has been accomplished, return the filter to the canister. Replace the cover and tighten the thumbscrews.

Spark Plug

The spark plug or plugs should be removed, cleaned and gauged after several hours of operation. If you notice an abnormal amount of fouling or if your spark plug is arcing any place other than the electrode it should be replaced. Check the ceramic on the plug. If it is cracked, it should be replaced.

Starting The Generator

It is hard on an engine to not be ran regularly. A generator is no different. Your generator should be started at least once a month and allowed to run for several minutes until it reaches operating temperature. If your generator is an electric start model, ie with a battery, it should be started at least once a month and the battery should be put on a charger once every two weeks to maintain its charge level and to extend the battery life. A generator should never be started under a load. Always turn off the breaker or remove any equipment that may be plugged into the generator prior to starting.

Closing Thoughts

The fuel in your generator is it's life blood. Always add fuel stabilizer to your fuel. Failing to do so will result in a clogged carburetor and involve removing the tank and rebuilding the carburetor. It costs less to add fuel stabilizer than it does to fix a clogged carburetor.

Helping You Help Yourself

Bobby

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Electrical Circuit Breaker

Electrical circuit breaker installation in your breaker box is easy. The electricity entering your home comes from the main lines located outside your house and is fed into a breaker box, sometimes called a fuse box or power distribution center. The main electricity provided is a general-purpose alternating-current (AC) electric power supply suitable for use in your home.

breaker box-fuse box-power distribution center

In North America, the most common combination of voltage and frequency is 120 volts in combination with a frequency of 60 Hz. This combination is what I'm most familiar with but the way this combination works is the same wherever you live, although this voltage and frequency combination may not operate or may destroy appliances designed use in another country. The use of different plugs and sockets in different regions of the world provides some protection from accidental use of appliances with incompatible voltage and frequency requirements.

 

The electricity entering your home comes from the main lines located outside your house and is fed into an electrical circuit breaker breaker box, sometimes called a fuse box or power distribution center. This box normally has 4 wires entering into it from the outside. These four wires provide the voltage, consistent neutral and grounding your home and home appliances need to function properly. Each wire has a specific purpose and should be attached to the system properly to insure the proper safe operation of the electrical equipment in your home.

main breaker

These wires entering your home are called line 1 (L1), line 2 (L2), neutral and ground (some times called earth ground). L1 and L2 each provide 120 volts AC to the breaker box. While each provide 120 V, each are 180 degrees out of sync with other. This is normally called phase. In other words, when L1 is at it's peak voltage on the positive side (+120V), L2 is at it's peak voltage on the negative side (-120). L1 and L2 must be approximately 180º out of phase with other in order for 240 volt appliances to operate properly. The electric company providing the power to your home controls this synchronization. I only mention it so you will understand why you cannot attach 240 volt equipment to the same incoming line and expect it to operate. Most homes have a two phase service. L1 and L2. The next wire entering is the neutral wire. The neutral wire provides a consistent ground for the alternating current to operate with. This consistent grounding provides consistent electrical performance for the main power entering your home. The last wire is the ground wire. The ground wire is connected to a ground rod or a grounding grid located outside your home. It provides a reliable path for electricity to travel in case of a short circuit.

Main Breakers

L1 and L2 enter the box and connect to the two main electrical circuit breakers, normally located at the top of the breaker box.

electrical circuit breaker

These 2 main electrical circuit breakers provide a main disconnect of the power entering your home. The main breakers are also connected to two copper straps that are designed to have the circuit breakers attached to. The neutral wire enters and is attached to the neutral bar. There are several screw terminals on this bar for the attachment of the numerous neutral wires going to every plug and light in the home. The last wire is the ground. It is attached to the ground bar and also has numerous screw terminals for the attachment of the many ground wires going to plugs and appliances.

Electrical Circuit Breaker

Each electrical circuit in your home has it's own breaker. Each electrical circuit breaker has one task. They are there to interrupt the circuit in case of a short circuit to ground. If the electrical circuit breaker were not inline and there were to be a short circuit, it would likely cause an electrical fire and subsequent house fire.

• Helpful Hint (STRONG SUGGESTION!!!)

Something most people don't know and don't think about is the breaker box is not maintenance free! It has low maintenance to be sure, but it does require some maintenance once a year. Once a year you should trip the main electrical circuit breaker and turn off all the circuit breakers. Starting with the main breaker, turn it off and on several times to clear any buildup that may have occurred. Leaving the main off, flip each electrical circuit breaker on and off several times, clearing any buildup. Leaving the circuit breakers off, turn the mains back on and then turn each electrical circuit breaker back on. Notice you will most likely have one or more breakers that have a white button on them. These are the ground fault breakers. They are used for damp environments like the bathroom, kitchen and outside plugs and lights. With these little marvels of electrical safety, once you have tripped all of the breakers go back and press the button on the ground fault breakers to make sure they are functioning correctly. Once you push the button, you must reset the breaker.

Designed To Balance Out The Voltage Load

The breaker box is designed to balance out the voltage load between L1 and L2. The way the buss bars are designed in the box, the first breaker on each side connects to one line. The next connects to the other line. There by balancing the load between L1 and L2 and avoiding most voltage drop or sag. This also makes it convenient for attaching 240 volt breakers to the box while providing a total of 240 volts to those appliances that require it. Remember, in order for 240 volt appliances to work, each lines voltage must be 180º out of phase with each other.

How To Install A New Electrical Circuit Breaker

Attaching a new breaker to your electrical panel is safely done by first turning off the main electrical circuit breaker to the box. (If you fail to do so, you run the risk of serious injury or death by electrocution!) Remove the screws attaching the panel cover to the box. There will also likely be a secondary Steel panel covering the breakers. First and foremost, check the buss bars for any electricity present with a volt meter or voltage tester. I always check to make sure there is no electricity present. I know there isn't going to be any if the system is operating properly but I have seen breakers malfunction and have been electrocuted a few times. IT HURTS! Do yourself a favor and check before beginning work.

• !!!Caution!!!  The wires attached to the top of the breakers are still energized and will electrocute you when the breaker is turned off. These are the main wires coming into your home and are ALWAYS HOT! Stay away from them!

Once you have determined that the power is off, look at the breaker. It will likely have a slot cut into one side at the bottom corner, furthest away from the switch leaver. That side attaches to the center buss bar in the box. The other side has a lip molded into the breakers case. The hook side goes in the box lip first, then the breaker is pressed down onto the buss bar. If you have any questions, look at the existing breakers to see how they are attached. Once the breaker is installed, run the wire that you are attaching to the breaker, into the box by removing a knock out of the appropriate size and using a romex wire connector of the appropriate size and type.

romex-connector

Pull the wire through until you have enough to make your connections. Then pull a little more through to make sure you have enough. Strip the plastic wire sheath from the wires all the way to the romex connector being careful to not nick the wire insulation. You should have a black, white and a bare wire. In a 120 volt application, coming from the breaker for plugs and lights, the black is normally used as the hot wire. The white is used for neutral and the bare wire for ground. (The white wire can be used for 220 volt applications and in lighting for an electrical path from the light switch to the light. Don't assume that all white wires are neutral). Notice how the wiring is installed. How neat and orderly it is. Thats not for appearance. It is to make it easier to track down any electrical problem that might occur and is called taking pride in workmanship. Keep it neat and orderly! Attach the bare ground wire first to the ground bar. Back out one of the set screws until there is room for the wire to enter the hole. Route the ground wire behind the wires going to the breakers to keep them out of the way.  Once neatly routed, cut the wire to the length needed and tighten the set screw very tight. Move on to the neutral wire. It is the white wire. Route it neatly to the neutral bar. Tighten the set screw tightly. The black hot wire is routed neatly to the set screw located to the outside of the breaker.

Replace the box covers. Make sure to leave the new circuit turned off until you can check all the new plugs and lights you have installed. Turn the main breaker back on.

Save Several Hundred Dollars

You have just saved yourself several hundred dollars by learning to install a new breaker yourself. It's not difficult and you have learned some new skills.

 

Helping You Help Yourself

Bobby

 

 

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