Here’s the truth: electrical system failures can happen at any time. When they do occur, they can put your business in serious jeopardy.
It is also possible for an outage to be caused by a natural disaster or equipment failure. However, power surges and power shortages are not uncommon. Other factors may also lead to an electrical equipment failure.
Preventing electrical equipment failures should be a priority for all businesses with electricity-dependent products or services. But prevention takes both knowledge and effort to be successful.
Knowing what can cause an electrical distribution system to fail, as well as who to turn to when it does, can make a huge difference in your prevention plan. While it is impossible to eliminate the risk of electrical failures, there are measures you can take to minimize their occurrences.
In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of those steps. We’ll also discuss some of the most common causes of these types of failures and how you can prevent them.
Electrical system failures: how dangerous can they be?
When an electrical system failure occurs, a company or business may face severe consequences. The bigger the operations are (such as in industrial plants), the more impactful these failures can become.
System failure can destroy essential and expensive equipment. When critical components suddenly lose power due to unexpected events, they cannot function at all.
Another thing that system failures can do is damage components beyond repair-even if they are not destroyed completely. Even if everything isn’t destroyed during a power outage, products may have to be thrown away for safety after being exposed to extreme temperatures caused by an electrical failure.
If the equipment stops working altogether, you can face severe financial losses. You may also be forced to shut down your business operations for extended periods while waiting on repairs or replacements.
In some cases, electrical system failures can even lead to a fire. Fires caused by electrical malfunctions are more likely to be serious because of the high temperatures that electricity can create. The combination of intense fire and faulty wiring or equipment can quickly become a disaster for your business.
Electrical equipment failure can cause life-threatening injuries and death. This is especially true in businesses where employees are exposed to electricity-dependent equipment daily. If an outage occurs while employees are working on sensitive equipment, there is a possibility that they’ll be injured.
Electrical system failures can cause severe property damage, as well. If your business location has an electrical problem that results in the loss of power or severe damage, you could find yourself paying for repairs out of pocket. However, if someone is injured due to the electrical failure, you could also be held liable in civil court.
You can be prosecuted if a system failure occurs because of poor management and lack of maintenance. Companies are responsible for keeping their equipment up-to-date with regular inspections. If something goes wrong, the company can be sued.
In some cases, a business may receive compensation from an insurance policy if they have one that covers electrical failures. However, not all policies will cover this type of event.
A power outage can result in the loss of customer trust and loyalty, which will affect your business’s bottom line. You may also have to deal with financial penalties if you fail to meet specific deadlines because of an electrical failure on your property. These issues are just a few things that can happen when you do not have an adequate electrical system in place.
How common are electrical system failures?
Electrical system failures are not normal, but they can happen. That’s why it’s essential to have a prevention plan in place so that you can minimize the damage when they do occur.
To better understand the external factors and circumstances that lead to an electrical failure, it helps to know about the concept of Mean Time Between Frames (MTBF). This metric gives an indicative measure of the reliability of a given electrical system/component.
The MTBF is a key consideration when designing a conveyor system. This refers to the amount of time, on average, that separates one item from the next as it moves down the production line. The goal is to match this design specification with an appropriate control system.
It is essential to understand that your conveyor equipment has a finite life and will eventually break down or fall out of alignment. At this point, there are many options for repair and replacement, but it’s always better if you can prevent these types of breakdowns from happening in the first place!
Primary causes for electrical equipment failures
There are many possible causes for electrical equipment failures, but some are more common than others. Some of the most common causes of electrical failures include:
- Power surges
- Power shortages
- Outages caused by natural disasters
- Exposure to moisture
- Voltage spikes
- Design errors
- Improper use
- Insufficient insulation
- A lack of fuses and circuit breakers
- Wildlife interference
- Equipment failure
Each of these causes can lead to severe consequences for your business, including lost revenue and even product recalls. It’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with each type of failure and take steps to prevent them from happening.
One of the most common causes of electrical equipment failures is a power surge. A power surge is an increase in the voltage of electricity. It can be caused by a range of things, including faulty wiring or power lines meeting each other (known as line-to-line inductive coupling).
Power surges are commonly caused by lightning strikes close to where electrical equipment is plugged into the wall, resulting in ‘brownouts’ and ‘blackouts .’ A power surge can also be caused by something as simple as a motor starting up or by turning on many electrical devices at once.
Power surges can cause severe damage to your systems, leading to short circuits, blown fuses, and even fires. To protect your equipment from damage, you should use surge protectors.
A power shortage is a lack of electric power, often caused by an overloaded electrical grid. This can lead to equipment failures, as well as brownouts and blackouts.
Power shortages are often the result of too much demand for electricity combined with inadequate supply. They can also be caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and typhoons.
A power shortage can severely impact your business, causing lost revenue and even product recalls. To protect yourself from the risk of power shortages, you should ensure that surge protectors and backup generators adequately protect your equipment.
Outages caused by natural disasters
Natural disasters can cause outages that can last for days or even weeks. Outages caused by natural disasters can be challenging to predict and prepare for, but there are some things you can do to help minimize the risk.
One of the best ways to protect your equipment from outages caused by natural disasters is to install a backup generator. Backup generators can provide power in the event of a power outage, allowing you to continue running your business.
Another way to protect yourself from outages is to have an emergency plan in place. This should include a list of contacts for suppliers and service providers and instructions for how to deal with different types of emergencies.
Exposure to moisture
High voltage cables coming into contact with water can cause severe electrochemical and water treeing. This occurs when moisture comes into contact with the electric field resulting in a short circuit.
Wet conditions or increased relative humidity can also cause corrosion of metal parts and connections, especially those included in an underground cable system. To protect your equipment from exposure to moisture, you should use appropriately sealed enclosures and keep all areas around electrical equipment dry.
A voltage spike is a sudden increase in the voltage supplied to an electrical device. This can cause the device to overheat and fail.
There are several things you can do to help prevent voltage spikes from damaging your electrical equipment:
- Use a quality surge protector.
- Make sure all of your electrical equipment is properly grounded.
- Avoid running too many devices on the same circuit.
- Keep your electrical equipment clean and free of dust and debris.
- Use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to help protect your equipment from voltage spikes and power outages.
Other causes for electrical equipment failures
Design errors: Design errors can be caused by several factors, including incorrect calculations, poor workmanship, and faulty design.
Design errors can often be challenging to detect and cause severe damage to your equipment. To help protect yourself from the risk of design errors, you should ensure that all of your electrical equipment is properly tested and certified.
Improper use: Improper use of electrical equipment can often lead to failure. This includes using the wrong type of equipment for the job, overloading circuits, and not following manufacturer instructions.
To help prevent electrical equipment failures, you should always read and follow the instructions provided by the equipment manufacturer. You should also only use qualified electricians to install and service your electrical equipment.
Insufficient insulation: Insufficient cable insulation around high voltage cables can cause an arc flash explosion when the cable comes into contact with something else, such as another person or with water.
To prevent an arc flash explosion, you should ensure that all cables have the appropriate amount of insulation material. You should also check for exposed cables and cover them immediately to help protect against injuries or power disruptions caused by contact with high voltage cables.
A lack of fuses and circuit breakers: A system may overheat and eventually fail without a fuse or circuit breaker. Fuses help protect your electrical equipment by breaking the circuit when too much current is flowing through it.
To protect your equipment from damage due to a lack of fuses, you should ensure that all circuits have the appropriate number of fuses and that they are correctly sized. You should also check for broken or missing fuses regularly.
Wildlife interference: One commonly overlooked reliability concern is the interaction between electrical systems and wildlife. Burrowing animals like squirrels and snakes can cause severe damage to underground cables by creating short circuit currents.
Nesting birds can also interfere with power systems by building nests on or near critical electrical equipment and overhead lines. Nests, roosts, raptors, and woodpeckers are the most common types of birds that create problems.
To help prevent wildlife from causing damage to your electrical equipment, you should install bird and squirrel guards and keep all areas around your electrical equipment clear of debris and vegetation.
Equipment failure: The most common cause of electrical equipment failures is that the equipment itself has failed. System reliability naturally reduces over time. Older equipment will start to break down with continued use.
If your electrical equipment fails, it’s essential to determine the cause and take corrective action. Sometimes this can be as simple as cleaning or replacing a part of the equipment, but in other cases, it may require more extensive repairs or even replacement of the entire unit.
Reducing the risk of an electrical failure
Although you cannot always prevent these types of failures from happening in the first place, there are several ways that you can reduce the risk:
- Keep electrical free from any moisture. It would be best to ensure all cabling is adequately insulated and dry. You should also check for any exposed cables and cover them up to prevent injury or power disruptions.
- Avoid octopus wiring. You should also avoid running too many devices on the same circuit and keep your electrical equipment free of dust and debris.
- Keep it well-ventilated. You should also ensure that all electrical equipment is adequately cooled to help prevent overheating and dielectric breakdown.
- Ensure all equipment is properly grounded. All of your electrical equipment should be adequately grounded to help prevent power surges.
- Use quality surge protectors. You can also use a quality surge protector to help protect your equipment from voltage spikes.
- Make sure all electrical equipment is certified. To reduce the risk of design errors, you should ensure that all of your electrical equipment is properly tested and certified.
- Have fuses on every circuit. It would be best to make sure there are fuses on every circuit and are appropriately sized.
- Use a UPS. You can also use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to help protect your equipment from voltage spikes and power outages.
- Keep wiring tight. Loose connections are one of the most causes of outages. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep electrical connections.
If you’re experiencing frequent electrical failures, it’s essential to determine the cause and take corrective action. By following these tips, you can help reduce the risk of electrical equipment failures and keep your business running smoothly.
Protecting your home or business from an electrical failure
Though reducing the chances that a failure will occur should be the top priority, it’s essential to prepare your home or business for it to get worse. This will give you peace of mind and help secure trust with the people around you.
The first and most important thing an organization can do is make sure they have a disaster recovery plan. This will help minimize the damage caused by an electrical failure.
The plan should include steps that must be taken in a power outage. In most cases, it is best to work with your IT team when writing this plan so you can make sure all components are covered.
An organization’s next step to avoid electrical system failure is to have a maintenance program ready. This should include inspection and cleaning of all equipment and systems and updates to firmware and software. In some cases, it may be necessary to upgrade your electrical system altogether to avoid failures.
You can also protect your business from power outages. Installing a backup generator. This will help keep your business running, even if the power is out for an extended period.
Another way to protect your business from electrical failures is by having insurance that covers this type of event. You can find policies specific to electrical failures, or you can choose a general property policy that will cover this type of event. The coverage provided by these policies will vary, so make sure you speak with an insurance professional to learn more about your options before making a final decision.
No one can predict when an electrical failure will occur, but by taking the necessary precautions, you can help reduce the chances of it happening. By following these tips, you can help keep your home or business running smoothly and protect yourself from the damaging effects of an electrical failure.
Preventative maintenance is the best defense against electrical failure.
The best way to help prevent electrical equipment failures is by instituting a preventive maintenance plan. It is the process of performing routine scheduled inspections and possible repair or replacement of individual components to avoid breakdowns.
A thorough and well-guided maintenance plan will include the following:
- regularly scheduled inspections of all critical electrical equipment
- periodic cleaning and lubrication of moving parts
- replacement of worn or damaged components
- testing of electrical equipment to ensure it is operating within specified parameters
- maintenance records to help track the history and condition of your electrical equipment
- repairs and replacements (when necessary)
- continuous monitoring with the aid of sensors and staff
Performing preventative maintenance on your electrical equipment and systems can help reduce the risk of failures and extend the life of the equipment. Doing so will also help improve the reliability of the equipment, so they function more efficiently while also lasting longer.
It’s also essential to have an emergency backup plan in place in case of a power outage or other type of disaster. If you’re not sure how to perform preventive maintenance on your particular equipment, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a qualified technician.
Establishing a safety plan in case of failure
It would be best if you also had a safety plan in place in case of power outages or other types of disasters. This type of plan should specify the actions to be taken in an outage or some other type of emergency.
This may include establishing a system for indicating that the equipment is down, notifying responsible parties, shutting down equipment safely, and performing any shutdown procedures.
A good safety plan includes:
- an emergency response plan
- a checklist of critical electrical equipment and contact information for the manufacturers
- procedures for shutting down and restarting your electrical system
- contact information for qualified technicians
- emergency lighting plans
- backup power supply plans
- information on where to find portable generators
Your safety plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it is up-to-date and relevant. Every time you bring in new equipment, you must consider the implications of the safety plan and ensure that it is compatible with additional equipment.
Establishing these safety protocols is essential because they are often included in your response to mandatory incident reporting requirements. Without formally documented guidelines for responding to electrical equipment failures, it can be difficult to prevent potential violations from occurring.
How do experts determine the cause of an equipment failure?
When an electrical fault occurs, incident response teams will investigate the cause by conducting a full investigation. A root cause analysis is often performed to establish the reason behind the breakdown of a machine for which corrective measures can be taken.
This type of analysis includes the following steps:
- visual inspection and data collection concerning the failed equipment and materials (e..g, electrical distribution equipment, insulating boards, bushing, power transformers)
- identifying all potential causes of the failure
- evaluating each cause to determine its likelihood of causing the failure
- selecting the most likely cause and determining how it could have been prevented
Once the root cause has been identified, corrective action can prevent future failures. This can involve replacing a part or conducting more thorough testing.
When analyzing an electrical failure, technicians often consider three different types of losses. Each type of failure has its unique characteristics that must be analyzed to determine the root cause:
- Catastrophic failures: those that cause the equipment to stop working completely
- Degradation failures: those that occur over time and eventually lead to catastrophic failures
- Accidental failures: those that happen as a result of human error or negligence
The most common type of failure for electrical equipment is catastrophic. This means that the equipment failed because one part broke, and there was no way to fix it on-site. Since this happens so frequently, technicians need to analyze these failures to determine what caused the malfunction carefully.
Another common type of failure is degradation. This occurs over time and eventually leads to a catastrophic failure. Degradation can be caused by many factors, including faulty materials, poor manufacturing processes, or improper use of an item, such as unsuitable storage or extended exposure to sunlight.
When analyzing degradation failures, technicians must be certain they are not looking at an accidental failure caused by human error or negligence. If the equipment is still under warranty, it makes sense to eliminate this possibility before moving on with more extensive troubleshooting techniques. For example, if a power cord has been chewed through in several locations by a pet, this will affect the product’s performance, and it will likely be covered under warranty.
The final type of failure that technicians must consider when analyzing electrical equipment problems is an accidental failure caused by human error or negligence. This could include mishandling during installation or use, incorrectly routing power cords, and using the wrong type of equipment for a specific application.
Accidental failures can often be difficult to troubleshoot because they are not always caused by one specific factor. Several different causes contributed to the failure, making it more challenging to determine what went wrong.
When investigating accidental failures, technicians must rule out all other possible causes before moving on to the final diagnosis. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is necessary to ensure that the correct solution is found and the equipment is repaired or replaced as needed.
While electrical failures can’t always be prevented, there are many things you can do to help reduce the risk. Following these tips can help keep your equipment running safely and reliably for years to come.
If you’re experiencing problems with your electrical equipment, don’t wait for it to fail. Have the equipment inspected and repaired as early as possible before a problem becomes an emergency that can cause extensive damage to other components or even pose a risk of injury.
At Roar Engineering, we work with clients to troubleshoot electrical issues and help them find the right solution. Please visit our website and check our articles for more information on preventing electrical failures.