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Gas with alcohol stored in generator

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Gail Storm, Sep 27, 2005.

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  1. Gail Storm

    Gail Storm Guest

    I just purchased a Generac 4000EXL generator and I have a question. The
    generator Owners Manual states not to use fuel that contains Methanol. Under
    Storage Instructions in the Engine Manual it states Alcohol-blended fuel
    (gasohol) attracts moisture and should be drained. I live in the outer
    surrounding Chicago area and that is a standard ingredient in all gasoline here.
    I understand that Sta-Bil will also prevent against problems from alcohol is
    that correct or should I drain tank? Your knowledge, experience or
    recommendations would be appreciated.
  2. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Draining the carb will cause more problems than leaving fuel in it. It
    will get gummed up.

    Stabilizer will protect against moisture. In your case you are prone to
    more moisture than normal and should add double the recommended amount (it
    won't hurt it).

    It's ALWAYS better to leave the fuel system wet (with fuel) than to dry it
    out for storage.
  3. My NG-fueled generator came with a conversion that didn't require
    removal of the gasoline carb, so I hooked up the gasoline fuel lines
    and discovered it runs (*) just fine on gasoline. I then ran it dry
    on gasoline and have run it exclusively on NG for the last 6 years,
    mostly it's weekly cycle, but the occasional power failure.

    Does this mean my gasoline carb is ruined (I've still got the gasoline
    lines in place with a marine disconnect fitting and a marine gasoline
    tank for emergency use), or is very occasional gasoline use OK for it?
    Should/can I do anything to clean or preserve the life of the gasoline

    (*) Runs fine, but since the engine shutoff is controlled via the NG
    solenoid valve, it won't shut off on gasoline, and I have to
    disconnect the gas line and let it run out of fuel. Oh well.
  4. Mark

    Mark Guest

    No, this is different. Running it dry once should be fine. It's the
    repeatedly drying it out (since most generators are run very infrequently)
    which will cause the varnish buildup.

    Also, to clarify, you won't "ruin" your carb if you do this. You will gum
    it up and it will need to be cleaned. Sometimes you get lucky and regular
    carb cleaner sprayed throughout does the trick. Other times, you need to
    dismantle it and then use carb cleaner. Either way, nothing is permanently
    If it's dry now, leave it dry. Your use is uncommon and should not be a
    There is no gasoline fuel shutoff valve? That is an unusual situation.
  5. You can put a "throttle cutoff solenoid" to pull the throttle linkage to
    cutoff on any engine. (Most diesels use this method for shutdown) That
    said, I would tend to leave it the way it is so that you run all the gas
    out of the carb, so that it doesn't gum up while standing between
    gasoline runs.

    Bruce in alaska
  6. Right, I guess my definition of 'ruined' is that due to some
    unanticiapted natural disaster the power goes out and the NG also
    fails, and I go to run on gasoline only to find that my gasoline carb
    is all gummed up and won't function without a major cleaning or
    rebuilding effort.
    I suspect there was a spark-grounding engine shutoff before the engine
    was built into the generator, but it's not connected to the current
    control system because that's set up with a NG solenoid valve.

    In fact, I can't think of any small gasoline engine (or any large one,
    come to think of it) that shuts the fuel off to shut the engine down.

    There's no manual fuel shutoff because they removed the gasoline fuel
    lines when they converted it to NG.
  7. Gail Storm

    Gail Storm Guest

    Thank you for the replies. I usually lose power about once a year although
    sometimes it's 3-4 times a year. Last month lighting took out a fuse and it took
    14 hours for the Power Company to reset it. Trouble was the temperature was in
    the 90's so my freezer melted inside also no water as I have a private well. I
    live in a remote area. I also fear the loss of power in the winter as we do get
    a number of ice storms. Could be a long time before my lights would be turned
    back on in that event. I found that the Power Company sets their priorities by
    the number of complaints and I have only one vote. I will double the stabilizer
    Mark, how often should I drain and replace the gas? Would you suggest that I run
    the generator when I re-fill with new fuel? Thanks again, GS.
  8. Mark

    Mark Guest

    The stabilizer you buy will tell you how long it is good for. 12-18 months
    is normal.

    When you change out to fresh gas/stabilizer, you should run the generator
    for a few minutes on the new stuff, otherwise you'll be leaving stale gas
    in the lines and carb.
  9. Gail Storm

    Gail Storm Guest

    Thank you Mark, you have been most helpfully, GS.
  10. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    We put "dry gas" in fuel tanks in order to make water in the tank
    miscible so it burns with the fuel instead of shutting the engine down
    on a pure water globule. All gasoline contains either a methanol or
    ethanol derivative.
  11. Gail Storm

    Gail Storm Guest

    You are correct Steve, but I thought the "original" argument was to reduce air
    pollution? Also, as Illinois is a big producer of corn the farmers and the
    politicians are pushing for even greater use of alcohol here. Their argument is
    to reduce the dependence on gasoline. Prior to the standard 10% alcohol
    additive, it was very common years ago to add a product called Heat to your car
    gas tank in the winter. Which was basically alcohol and used as a preventative
    to gas line freeze, caused by water in the gas supply. Even today I see people
    still adding the stuff. I don't know if you remember that old advertisement "My
    advice sir is to get deicer!" GS
  12. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    You are correct. I'm responding to the advice of not using ethanol or
    methanol because it "attracts" water.
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