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  • Reliability, operations performance, and maintenance tailored to our operations environment. For the last several years we enjoyed a problem free generator.

    George Palmos
    Facilities Manager
    Aeroflex/Metelics Incorporated

    What is "Meggering"(TM) or "Insulation Resistance Testing"?

    May 1, 2013

    Insulation resistance testing is a specialized procedure where the integrity of the electricity producing portion of your generator set (alternator) is tested in a safe & isolated condition. During the test, DC voltage is applied to the alternator windings to determine if the insulation is damaged and may cause a short circuit under normal operation. This test is a crucial part of maintaining a reliable on-site emergency power producing plant and is recommended annually by NFPA 110. This test can identify and prevent catastrophic failures to not only the generator set, the Automatic Transfer Switch as well as anything on the entire emergency load circuit.

    This test identifies weakness of the dielectric strength of the internal components that may under normal conditions not be detectable until a total failure occurs. Identifying these impending failures is a relatively simple process and typically will not impact any supported building systems. If problems are found, steps can be taken to ensure your on-site power needs are met and costly damage to your entire emergency circuit can be avoided.


    Is My Diesel Fuel Still OK?

    March 13, 2013

    Fuel studies have shown that diesel fuel starts to deteriorate and form solids within 60-90 days after refining.

    As this change occurs, naturally accumulating particulates increase in size and mass. Heavy deposits are soon to be found in the filtration equipment and sludge forms in tanks and other fuel system components. This sludge (or “algae”) is the most common cause of clogged filters, loss in engine rpm, excessive exhaust smoke, and damaged fuel injectors.

    Additionally, water condenses inside fuel tanks wherever there is open space, Correspondingly, it is highly advised that tanks be maintained at full levels. NFPA 110 recommends an annual test of your diesel fuel by sending a sample to a laboratory for analysis per ASTM Standards.

    So what should I do to manage my diesel fuel properly? You have a few choices:

    1. Use up your fuel within two years.

    Why two years? It takes approximately that long for the deterioration of the fuel to become serious. If you “turn over” your fuel within that period, you should be OK. This means if you have a 100 gallon tank, you should burn 100 gallons in two years.

    But what if you can’t? Then you should...

    2. Recondition your fuel.

    What does this mean?

    It means you remove the contamination from the fuel every two years. This process is a called fuel polishing.

    Fuel polishing systems use multi-stage filtration, enabling sludge and water to be removed from the fuel tank. Fuel additives are introduced as well. These additives work in conjunction with the filtration process to ensure the fuel is free of particulates, sediment and water.

    Typically, the cost for this service is about half the cost of new fuel.

    3. Drain & refill with new fuel.

    This is the easiest and quickest approach. But it is also the most expensive.

    The net result of active fuel management is clean tanks, enhanced combustion, elimination of carbon deposits, reduction in harmful emissions, and lower fuel consumption.


    Generator Care When the Building is Empty

    February 14, 2013

    As a building owner of property manager, it's always challenging (and expensive) to have an empty building. Unfortunately, the costs don't stop when the rental revenue does - not the best situation! We understand expenses need to be reduced to a minimum during this period, but taking it too far can be a bad idea. In situations like this, it's important to remember to:

    Preserve the Value of Your Assets

    Equipment of this kind is deteriorating continuously from the day it is installed. You ongoing maintenance program slows the deterioration - flattening the deterioration curve and giving it a full life of 20-30 years. Neglect the maintenance and your equipment will quickly become unreliable and deteriorate much more rapidly. In fact, you could shorten its life by as much as half!

    Maintain a Functioning Asset to Market the Property

    Prospective tenants who require backup power will see an existing generator as a real asset, and this could distinguish your property. Without a well-functioning emergency power standby system, you could lose this type of tenant. Don't limit your prospects by not having a well-functioning emergency power standby system.

    Keep your Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) permit current

    BAAQMD permit requirements for cleaner burning diesel engines have increased in recent years. Older generators that do not meet these newer requirements may be grandfathered, if they keep their permits current. It is important to not let your permit lapse during a period of vacancy. If a permit does lapse, you may not be able to re-permit the unit and could be forced to replace it.

    We would be happy to discuss your situation and to devise a plan to accomplish these goals as inexpensively as possible.


    Coolant Flush versus Cooling System Service - Both are good, but one is better and more complete.

    January 8, 2013

    A coolant flush, as the name implies, is only draining existing coolant, flushing the system with water, draining and then refilling with Fleet Charge 50/50 Pre-Diluted, Fully Formulated, SCA Precharged coolant. Coolant flushes are important but do not address many of the common reasons a generator cooling system fails.

    A complete Cooling System Service includes flushing the system 2-3 times, coolant disposal, replacing all hoses (including heater hoses) plus any clamps that are in poor shape, replacing all belts, replacing the engine thermostats (this is a critical item), replacing the radiator cap, filling with new coolant (50/50 mix) and testing for leaks and proper performance. Hoses fail from the inside out, meaning signs of failure are not evident until it's too late. By proactively changing hoses, failures and leaks are prevented. Engine thermostats are critical in that they prevent units from overheating by enabling the unit to shut itself down before a catastrophic failure occurs. These are relatively inexpensive parts which should be replaced proactively to avoid major engine repair costs or even unit replacement.

    Performing Cooling System Service every 3 years is an industry standard that addresses all key components so that the cooling system performs as designed. A comprehensive preventative maintenance program for generators should include proactively changing cooling system components to ensure the generator is ready for service when called upon during a power outage.


    Alarms – Secondary Containment and High-Low Fuel

    January 2, 2013

    We frequently receive calls about two types of alarms on emergency generators – Secondary Containment Alarms and High Low Fuel Alarms.  A Secondary Containment Alarm provides an alert anytime fuel enters a secondary containment vessel.  This prompts an investigation into a possible leak in the primary fuel tank so that needed repairs can be made quickly.  The High-Low Fuel Alarm is just as it sounds – providing an alert if the fuel level is too high, creating a possible overflow situation, or an alert if the fuel level is too low, so that the generator tank can be properly filled and ready in an emergency.

    Often these questions arise in response to a visit by the fire department inquiring if these alarms are in good working order and requesting a demonstration.  A comprehensive maintenance program ensures the alarms are checked each visit, at least quarterly.  Onsite facilities personnel should ask their service provider to show them how to demonstrate the alarms so that they are prepared for the question during an inspection.   

    If you have questions or concerns about your Secondary Containment Alarm or High-Low Fuel Alarm, please give us a call (650) 321-6169 or drop us an email - We’d be happy to help.

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