For most people the concept of electrical maintenance is out of sight, out of mind.
In a commercial working environment regular maintenance is important for safety and preventing potential accidents, it can also improve the energy efficiency of your workplace.
Whilst the best approach is a scheduled preventative maintenance program, for businesses or individuals without one, its useful to be aware of indicators that highlight the need for attention:
1. Power circuit trips regularly
An electrical circuit tripping on the odd occasion is nothing to be concerned with. However, if one is tripping on a regular basis, further investigation should be taken to identify the cause.
It’s usually one of three things:
- A faulty appliance is plugged into the circuit – it could be an old microwave or toaster, which needs replacing or another item which we are seeing in increasing circumstances these days – people buying cheap electrical goods, mainly phone or laptop chargers or charging leads off the internet, usually from China where they aren’t manufactured to Australia standards. Not only will these faulty appliances trip a circuit, in many cases they can create a fire hazard.
- The circuit is overloaded – this is another area scenario we often come across as electricians, its much easier to plug a 4-way or a 6-way power board into an outlet than it is to have another circuit installed. Nevertheless, each circuit has its limit and when certain sections of an office are all connected via powerboards to one power point – its highly likely the circuit is tripping due to being overloaded.
- Shorted to ground. Shorted circuits might be due to electrical conductors like wires or winding inside the motor touching ground.
If you are experiencing any of these scenarios, your first port of call should be a licensed electrician. An experienced electrician will attend site and carefully investigate the issue to find a resolution.
A preventative measure here and work health and safety compliance requirement is to have your appliances electrically tested and tagged to ensure they are free of faults and in safe working condition. For more info head over to our electrical test and tag page.
2. Flickering Office Lights
Flickering office lights may seem like a minor problem, but when it’s a regular occurrence and with people are working under them, it can have a significant and negative impact on productivity. Persistent flickering lights could be associated with headaches, vision issues, and reduced morale and energy levels. It could also increase your electricity costs.
We generally encounter this issue with the old-style fluorescent fittings installed in many offices, usually it’s a faulty starter, ballast or fluorescent tube.
3. Power points emitting heat and switches not holding position
Are any of the power points in your office constantly warm to touch? If so, this is usually indicative of the outlet being worn, cracked or broken. This is a safety hazard and can occur internally to the outlet so there could be an issue even if it is not showing externally.
This is also a frequent occurrence with switches, whether they are a general 10amp lighting switch or a switch on a power point, the usual cause of this is general wear and tear. If a switch isn’t engaging and holding position consistently it should be replaced as it can create a safety hazard.
Both issues are an easy and affordable fix for an electrician and should be raised as soon as they occur
4. Sparks when plugging or unplugging appliances
You may see a spark on the rare occasion if you are yanking a lead out of a power point, whilst you shouldn’t be pulling leads out of outlets in this fashion, there isn’t anything serious about seeing this kind of spark.
If you are encountering sparks in any other instance, they are indicative of a serious issue and are usually quite dangerous.
A few causes are as follows
- Water or moisture in the outlet which can short out the circuit
- A worn-out outlet with loosened connections can increase the risk of short circuiting and intern fires.
- Older appliance cords or
- Poor repair jobs of faulty appliances.
In any case you should contact a licensed electrician immediately and cease to use the particular outlet
5. Your office is in an old building
Older buildings pose several safety threats and require regular and more frequent maintenance, simply because of the way they were built. Most older buildings were free of plaster board and the easy access to cavities for cabling, as a result they are more difficult to rewire or to add additional electrical cabling. This means the cabling is rarely upgraded and can be decades old.
Old cabling = old insulation which can crack and flake – insulation provides protection and separation between the conductors, without it there is a huge fire risk.
Many old buildings don’t meet the current Australian Standards, they still have circuit breakers without safety switches protecting their electrical circuits.
Current standards, call for the combination RCD MCBs which cut power to a circuit as soon as they sense leakage.
If you occupy and older building or dwelling and can’t recall the last time you had a licensed electrician undertake a site survey, an experienced licensed electrician can help determine whether your building is in need of immediate attention and help to reduce the risk of fire.
A comprehensive preventative maintenance plan can enhance safety, reduce risks, improve efficiency and lower the costs associated with your electrical installation.
With many insurers offering reductions in premiums for reducing fire related risks such as having RCDs installed or undertaking the thermal scanning of the of the switchboards it may be well worth considering as it could very well pay for itself.
Our Service Department at Rotric can assist with every scenario explained above. If you are experiencing any of these indicators or would like more information, please feel free to contact our Office.