Proper ventilation of portable gas generator

Old 11-05-12, 10:03 AM
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Proper ventilation of portable gas generator

During Storm Sandy my wife said she could smell gas while I was running our generator outside. I was running it under our deck in an area that was open on two sides and enclosed by the house on two sides. One small basement window was nearby (it was closed) and a dryer vent. All other doors and windows were one floor up (above deck) or around the corner in the basement.

I'm thinking the area was too enclosed and maybe some exhaust got in through the dryer vent?

Trying to figure out the safest place to put the generator. I'm reading it needs to be open on all sides at least 4 feet, and "away" from all windows and doors. But not sure how far "away" is.

also, I need to have it relatively close to house since I connect it to a transfer switch outlet box.

Old 11-05-12, 10:50 AM
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I would get a battery powered carbon monoxide detector just to be safe but if you can smell gas or exhaust inside the house... it's getting into the house. How it's getting in isn't really important. You need to move the generator.

I think open on all four sides with no overhead cover will do the most and try to keep it as far as possible from windows & doors. Having it boxed on two sides with a deck overhead really encloses it. Even though the two sides may be open there is not much circulation through the area.
Old 11-05-12, 10:53 AM
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I would say dryer vent is what may have been giving you the smell.

You could try stuffing it with insulation but be warned that you need to remember to remove it. May be dangerous when you go to run the dryer. Although the dryer will most likely overheat and trip off.

Give it a test run.

I had mine in my shed some 50 ft away. I have a long 10 gauge gen cord that I had for the pool way back when.

Does the deck protect against rain? I would think water would trickle on it.
Old 11-05-12, 07:26 PM
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IIRC it is reccommended that the gen be a minimum of 10 feet from any opening into the house including eaves, etc.
Old 11-06-12, 08:05 AM
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thank so much, great feedback. ok, so will try to move it further away. to your point, i only have a 10' cord. yes, the deck does a good job keeping it dry, which is something i must consider. Im learning its not good/safe to run it in wet weather (which is kinda ironic since many times you need it is in rain/snow). so im going to:

1) move it completely out of the encolsed area I have it in now
2) move it further away from the house, but still under deck with exhaust pointing to open space (i have a large deck)
3) at this point it would still be 5-6' from the house, but definitely more than 10' from any window or opening
4) stuff up the dryer vent
5) do a test run with a (new) C0 detector and my wife's keen nose.

Thanks all!
Old 11-09-12, 09:57 AM
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Carbon monoxide is trickey stuff because it's almost the same specific gravity as air. So it tends to hang around.

I used to be a first responder for a natural gas utility investigating complaints of CO problems.

I found that if a car or generator was anyplace nearby a house, the exhaust gasses could blow up against the house and eventually infiltrate the house over a period of several hours.

So I would want to have a generator WELL AWAY from a house --- and from the neighbor's house too! Ten feet is inadequate in my experience.

The problem is that generators may be operated for hours on end, and houses are a lot more susceptible to being infiltrated by CO than you would expect.

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