By: Rob Parkhurst, RK Electrical Service Manager
When organizations plan their facilities maintenance budgets, electrical maintenance is often overlooked as most funds are allocated to HVAC, climate control and plumbing systems.
It’s good to reassess the budget, because proper preventive electrical maintenance helps organizations stay compliant with NFPA 70E, the standard for electrical safety in the workplace. Maintenance also ensures a safe electrical system and work environment that complies with OSHA electrical safety standards.
Organizations that perform electrical maintenance also save money on utility bills. It is estimated that U.S. businesses lose roughly $4 billion a year in energy costs due to inefficient equipment and operations. Improving energy efficiency can lower utility costs up to 30%.
The key components of a preventive electrical maintenance program.
Infrared thermography scanning every three years
Infrared thermography is an effective method of scanning your electrical system for “hot spots” in motors, breakers and switchgear that indicate problems. The data shows what’s needed to improve systems, enhance environmental comfort and increase building efficiency. Infrared thermography scans should be performed every three years and are ideal before cleaning and torqueing as it may point out issues that can be fixed in the cleaning and torqueing process.
Cleaning and torqueing electrical equipment every three years
The lugs in electrical gear constantly get heated up, then cooled off, causing repeated expansion and contraction that, over time, loosens them up. It’s important to have a qualified electrician clean electrical panels and switch gear, and then torque the lugs and any other loose components to meet the manufacturers’ equipment specifications.
Without maintenance, the loose lugs can start arcing, increasing the risk of fires and shock hazards. Motors can burn out, which can cause outages and electrical issues throughout the building. The building will also suffer from decreased energy efficiency. If you don’t have qualified electrical personnel for three-year cleaning and torqueing, you can easily outsource it under a Planned Maintenance Agreement with a provider like RK Electrical.
Lighting audits and improvements annually
Compromised lighting systems can have a serious negative impact on energy efficiency. Your organization should perform a lighting audit once a year by checking all lights in the facility. Do the lights and sensors work? Do the switches work properly? Is the timing system set to on/off at the right times? If not, your facility could be losing lots of money!
Additionally, entry and exit lights near doors and in stairwells are required work properly at all times, per NFPA code, and these lights can go out quickly because they have a short battery life. Batteries require checking and they may need EM balancing. Check these lights first for NFPA compliance, or have a licensed electrical professional from RK Electrical do it!
Outsourcing electrical preventive maintenance can ensure that maintenance occurs on regular schedule and is conducted in a thorough manner, and also fills staffing gaps if your internal team lacks electrically qualified personnel.
Questions? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m available for all electrical questions or comments.