Consumer Reports: Simple steps to keep your generator up and running

Here are some tips to make sure your portable generator is storm ready

VIDEO: It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions that came with your generator about how to connect, use, and maintain your generator, including how to ground it.

Generators can make your life a lot more comfortable during a storm, but can threaten your life if used improperly. 

If you've spent money on a portable gasoline generator, the last thing you want is trouble starting it when a storm hits. Consumer Reports offers simple steps to keep it up and running.

To be sure your portable generator is storm ready, make sure you have enough fuel. You'll need more than just what the generator's tank can hold. Figure on 12-20 gallons per day to keep it running 24/7. 

PREPARE: Maintenance, safety for generators

Add a fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel fresh. Consumer Reports warns if your gas is old, your generator might be difficult to start, won't run properly or might not run at all. This also eliminates the need to drain your tank when you're done using your generator. 

To save fuel, run it for several hours to get your essentials running and then turn it off to save your fuel. 

Next, pay attention to the oil. Many portable generators automatically shut off if the engine oil gets too low. So check the oil before you even start your generator to avoid disruptions in your power or worse, damaging your generator.

If the oil is low, add only enough to bring the level to the "full" mark. 

If you want to go the extra mile, check the filters. 

Change paper air filters if they're visibly dirty. For foam filters, clean them in soapy water, let them dry and re-oil, according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

Many generators have a filter cup at the fuel tank opening. If it's dirty, tap out any solid bits and wipe with a clean rag. 

And remember, avoid carbon monoxide exposure. Never run your generator indoors -- not even in your garage, near open windows or doors.

Consumer Reports says your generator needs exercise, so whether you just bought a new one or you have an old one, for maintenance, it's import to start it up once a month and let it run for 20 minutes. This burns off moisture, lubricates the engine and recharges the battery.