When you think about preventive maintenance, most people think of maintenance on your car, furnace, air conditioner or roof. But, what about your electrical system? Most likely, you would not think that your electrical system needs regular preventive maintenance.
Studies show that the failure rate of electrical equipment is three times higher for components that are not part of a scheduled preventive maintenance program as compared with those that are. All electrical equipment ages over time increasing the chances of failure. More than two-thirds of electrical system failures can be prevented by a routine electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) program.
An EPM program consists of four elements. This includes making sure the system is:
- Dry; and
- Connections are tight.
The following will discuss the four areas of an EPM program in further detail.
Dust and dirt accumulations should be removed from the equipment and surroundings. Any combustible material should be kept at least 36 inches from the electrical panels and equipment. Access to electrical rooms should be limited to authorized personnel that understand the importance of maintaining a clean, electrical area.
Placing storage items too close to electrical panels or near electrical equipment will restrict air circulation and impede proper cooling. Excessive heat buildup will result in premature failure and shortened service life. All ventilation vents and air circulation openings in equipment rooms also should be kept clear.
Exposure of electrical components to moisture causes corrosion, and the buildup of corrosion by-products can lead to premature failure. Water entering electrical enclosures can cause failures due to ground faults and arcing. Electrical equipment areas should be kept dry and equipment protected from moisture. When evidence of moisture is noted, equipment should be examined for damage and necessary repairs made. The source of the moisture needs to be identified and eliminated.
Loose connections will cause your electrical system to run hot, and a hot terminal connection can cause failure. The arc that is caused when the connections separate will melt most metals. A connection that would have cost $200 in parts and labor to repair can and does destroy the entire building. Loose connections also cause a power loss and increase your electric bill.
In summary, it is recommended that once every three years, preventive maintenance is conducted on your electrical equipment by a licensed electrical contractor. By implementing a preventive maintenance program for your electrical system, your chances of an electrical failure and fire are greatly reduced.