The title of this blog is quite startling, but we want you to know that ‘bleeding’ your industrial generator is a routine component of generator servicing in Brisbane that a technician will perform. It’s not as painful as it sounds, in fact, it’s one of the simpler tasks of industrial generator maintenance and you could very well learn how to do it yourself with the help of a professional to guide you. Every time a fuel filter is changed, fuel runs out or there is a disturbance to the fuel system, the air gets trapped in the fuel compartment. This air is a major problem because it’ll act as a lock and block the normal supply of fuel into the engine when you try to start your generator. It’s completely normal and happens to all generators. It’s a generator symptom called “airlock” and all it does is interrupt the flow of fuel with an air bubble and it’s usually the issue if the engine shuts down unexpectedly and then refuses to start. Science and technology have not yet advanced to the point where we can manipulate how air moves around but that’s why we’ve designed the technique of bleeding. The team at Reactive Generators is available every day, all day to help you with this technique and every other element of generator servicing in Brisbane

What is bleeding?

Bleeding a diesel generator is the act of getting the air out of the system by manually pumping it out with some of the fuel until it’s completely eradicated. It’s called bleeding because the engine will literally bleed out some of its fuel for a duration to get rid of the trapped air in the system. Bleeding trapped air will quickly restore the flow of fuel into the engine and get your generator up and running again. The steps involved in the process are straightforward and can apply to all different models and sizes of industrial generators, though we do suggest that you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for any procedures that are specific to your model.  Popular manufactured brands in Australia include Perkins and Cummins

Why does your diesel generator need bleeding?

A professional generator technician will need to perform regular generator bleeding because air is an element that is stubborn and will do what it wants sometimes no matter how many preventative measures you have in place. The air that sneakily finds its way into your diesel generator is a problem because it will stop it from starting entirely. Not only that, but it also disables it from working as it should and flame out easily. Air has great compressibility and elasticity which means it can find gaps in the fuel system and it can expand those gaps. When there is a leaking point in the generator’s fuel system at a pipe or the tank, air can squeeze its way into the pipeline. The fuel system sucks fuel into the engine so if there is air in the pipeline it will reduce the vacuum capability of the section and break the flow of air into the engine of the generator.

The problem of air entering the system in one way, or another is unavoidable in the daily operation of your diesel industrial generator. However, the proper and professional removal of air will fix all your problems with minimal labour required on the technician’s side. A system bleeding should be separate from, but can be included, in the regular maintenance of your unit and here is a guide for how often it should be serviced. Here’s how it will go…

How to bleed the engine?

1. Identify the Leak

Before we get to work on bleeding the air out of the system, you must know how it got trapped in there in the first place. Diesel generators, as a rule of thumb, should never run out of fuel because it leaves gaps in the system where air can creep in. If you leave it to run dry, you will be dealing with the airlock in the system. Other than issues of fuel running out, air intrusions can also happen when a fuel filter is changed, which is part of regular servicing when it comes to industrial generators. You, or the professional technician you’ve employed, can prevent this by filling the new filter with oil and topping it off as it’s absorbed to close any gaps. Then you should apply the fuel into the gasket before installation. Once you’ve identified which of the above-mentioned issues are the root of air intrusion, you’re ready to bleed your generator’s engine fuel system. 

2. Loosen fuel valves and fuel pumps

There may be more than one for an industrial-sized generator. You usually will find these on top of the fuel filters fitted to the engine or in and around fuel pump areas. Start by loosening the screws or valves on the first filter by a half turn. You can loosen it further, if necessary, but you shouldn’t be able to pull it out. Give it about three or four turns and that should do it.  Once you’ve done all the loosening, make sure you have old rags at your immediate disposal. This next step is going to be messy, and we want you to be prepared for it. 

3. Operate the Manual Fuel Pump Primer

Place the rags at all the loose points where fuel pumps through because they’ll indicate if the air is out, and fuel is being pumped again. You’ll need to keep starting the engine so that it starts pumping fuel and it will push out the air until fuel starts soaking the rags. Wait until you see the fuel soaking the rags because then it means that all the air bubbles have been pushed out. You see air bubbles form as they leave the system. The rags or other absorbent material you’ve used will sop up the fuel as it bleeds out. When clean, bubble-free fuel is all you see on the rags, you can retighten all the screws, valves, and pipes back down while continuing to run the engine. Doing this maintains the flow pressure and eliminates any chances of air re-entering the system.

4. Loosen, bleed, repeat

Continue doing this process at any secondary filters or any other points of concern. If the airlock persists, and you’ll be able to tell because your generator still refuses to run, you’ll need to bleed other parts of the engine, and this will require the work of a professional. Once the process has been repeated a few times, it’s important to remember that you should let the unit cool down before fueling it again, according to Electrical Safety guidelines about generator use

We would once again like to emphasise that a PROFESSIONAL is the best person to handle this and all other generator servicing needs in Brisbane. This isn’t just because it’s safer, it’s also because the law requires it and it’s all for your benefit. Reactive Generators is available for generator bleeding services in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich.