A portable, gas-powered generator is a real convenience if the power goes out, but be aware that it can damage your electrical systems and pose a health risk if used improperly.
Power surges from a generator can harm your appliances, electronics, and water or air systems. Many homeowners insurance policies cover surges from lightning and damage from artificially produced electricity, but it’s worth a check of your policy to verify coverage of damage caused by an outdoor backup generator. A call to your agent can clarify any wording you are unsure about.
There are numerous reasons a generator might cause a power surge, including using the wrong fuel, letting fuel levels get too low, age, or simple wear and tear. Make sure your generator is in tip-top shape so you don’t ruin electronics and household systems. Follow operational instructions exactly. Incorrect use can lead to surges and property damage but also shocks, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and fires. Over time, use of a generator may also harm modern appliances and HVAC systems, so talk to your dealer or manufacturer about appropriate backup for wells, air-handlers, and “smart” appliances.