Sometimes the smallest things get overlooked regarding gas engines. One thing that seems like a small detail but has a major effect on gas engine operation is the spark plug. Spark plugs operate in severe conditions and require regular maintenance to provide desired engine performance.
The voltage required to produce a spark in the electrode gap has a direct effect on the life of a spark plug. Some things that are a main factor that affect the voltage required are the:
- air-fuel ratio
- ignition timing
- electrode wear
- fuel BTU
- electrode gap
The service life of a spark plug varies for different applications therefore proper maintenance will help extend plug life and reduce down time. As the gap increases on a plug the voltage required for spark increases dramatically. A worn plug can require more voltage then the ignition system can supply. A cleaned and re-gapped plug requires more voltage then a new plug.
Some other things to remember when performing spark plug maintenance are:
- Inspect the plug for deposits. A light brown or a beige deposit indicates normal operation. Deposits that are gray or black may be caused by excessive oil, or a substance that is introduced through the fuel system, or incorrect air-fuel ratio.
- Look for eroded electrodes. An eroded plug is a worn out plug.
- Always install a new spark plug gasket when installing or reinstalling a spark plug.
- Install the spark plug into the seal by hand. If the spark plug cannot be seated by hand, there is a problem with the threads.
- Do not use a thread tap to clean spark plug threads in the head. A tap is designed to remove metal and eventually could result in thread failure.
- Do not mix types of spark plugs in an engine.
- Do not use anti-seize compound on spark plugs, most of the heat is transferred through the threads and seat area.
- Do not over-tighten a spark plug. Over-tightening the spark plug can cause cracks or can yield the metal which loosens the shell.
- Never reuse a spark plug that is cracked.
Good spark plug maintenance will result in a better running engine and help reduce down time.
- Do you have any additional tips you've used successfully?
- Do you have experience with unique applications that require different types of maintenance (not listed above) or more frequent maintenance as a result of the environment?
Please post below and share your thoughts.
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