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What can go wrong with a generator engine block heater?

My name is Johnny Bradford. I’m the service technician manager here at Duthie Power. The thing that can go wrong with an engine generator block heater is the element inside the block heater can fail. Making it so that it doesn’t heat up your cooling system for the engine to start.

So, the block heater’s main purpose is to provide the engine with heat so that it assists in starting. Just like in your personal vehicle, you get in your car, you turn the key on, you let the engine run, it warms up your engine, and then you go drive it. You don’t go in and start the car; press the pedal, and you go. You want to allow your vehicle to warm up just like your generator. You want it to warm up because your generator will go from zero RPM to 1800 RPM.

During a power outage, as soon as that power goes out, it’ll start, and you want that engine to be nice and warm to assist in the starting of the engine. A common issue for engine block heaters is the element will burn out on the inside. If you have a coolant leak and the coolant leaks out and the block heater is not heating up coolant, but it’s heating up the air, it will also burn. The block heaters are hooked up to the circuit breaker. In that case, the circuit breaker can blow.

So, there are a number of different things that you can look at with the block heater, but it is an NFPA 25 regulation that every fire pump has to have an operating block heater in the circuit. You will know when you have to replace your engine block heater if it’s not producing any heat or if there are visible signs of the unit block heater burning.

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