Regular electrical maintenance is important in preventing potential accidents or incidents, the safety of your staff and the public, but it can also improve the energy efficiency of your premises and help you save on your commercial power bills. This goes beyond the standard tag and test requirements which is generally done on an annual basis.
Whilst having a regular electrical maintenance schedule is likely the best option, it’s also helpful to be made aware of the top signs that your office needs professional electrical maintenance. Below we’ve listed the top 6 indicators that imply you should contact a commercial electrician for maintenance work.
1. Sparks when plugging/unplugging appliances
If you or your team are seeing sparks when you plug in or unplug your appliances this is a potential sign you should have an experienced electrician in to do a safety check on your office outlets. Sometimes this can be a normal situation – a quick spark due to a rapid drawdown on the power supply – and it has no serious underlying ramifications.
However, some times the sparks can be a sign of a dangerous underlying issue. For example, the sparks could be due to excessive heat that builds up in your electrical outlets. This could trigger other issues such as melting the insulation that covers your wires, which in turn could set of an electrical fire.
On the other hand, the sparks could be due to water leakage into the cabling, which can short out the circuit. The age of the outlet can also be another issue. Older more worn out outlets can have looser connections, which increases the risk of short circuits and electrical fire. Older appliance cables and shoddy repair work can also be other potential causes.
2. Circuit breaker tripping
A circuit breaker that trips can be a common occurrence, however if it is happening on a regular basis in the office, it can be a cause for concern. Most often the office manager will simply rest the circuit breaker every time it trips, which means you won’t find out what is actually causing the underlying issue. If the circuit breaker is tripping regularly it is important to find out the underlying cause(s).
Often times, circuit breakers trip due to the circuit being shorted to ground or a circuit overload. A shorted circuit can be due to the electrical conductors like wires or winding inside the motor touching earth. On the other hand, the issue could have its roots in a specific component. A qualified and experienced electrician can perform an electrical safety check and review the relevant wiring and components to work out the source of the issue and repair the connections so your office will experience minimal interruptions.
Overloaded circuits can be a more complex issue, and a knowledgeable electrician will have the appropriate testing equipment to determine the source of the overload. The qualified electrician can also attach grounding or earth wires to outlets and electrical devices. This will hep to minimise the risk of serious injury in the event of a shot circuit, protect against electrical overload, and assist in stabilising your voltage levels.
3. Flickering office lights
Whilst flickering office lights may seem like a minor issue, if it is a regular occurence, it can become a major nuisance and even be harmful or a nuisance for your office staff. Persistent flickering lights can cause vision issues, be associated with headaches or migraines and reduce energy levels and office morale. It can also increase your electricity costs.
A licensed electrician will be able to diagnose the cause of the issue. As an example, would it be an issue with light bulb itself, the electrical fitting or something more serious like an overloaded circuit or frayed wiring? With the latter, too many electrical devices and appliances being plugged into the same circuit can lead to a power shortage or overload. Alternatively your circuit wiring can be outdated and no longer up to the latest electrical standards for safety.
If your flickering lights are affecting more than one room or circuit in your office, there is likely a more serious underlying issue. This could be a problem with your cable connections or another power source. In this instance, it’s even more imperative to contact a licensed electrician for some immediate electrical maintenance.
4. Warm electrical outlets
Are your office’s electrical outlets ever warm to the touch? If this is the case, you’re probably long overdue for a safety check and maintenance visit from your commercial electrician. If an outlet is war or hot after you unplug an electrical device, or even when you haven’t got anything plugged in, it is a serious sign of an underlying issue. Outlets that are worn, broken, loose, chipped or cracked should also be checked by a professional and replaced or repaired if necessary.
Electrical outlets can warm up during the process of converting the power from AC to DC, which is the process of changing the voltage input (AC) to a usable, storable output (DC). Unplug the electrical appliance and check back after one hour. The outlet should be at room temperature.
Generally speaking, you should avoid plugging in too many devices into the same circuit. However, it’s not easy to tell which outlets are linked to the same circuit-wire series without asking your electrician. Similarly, in older style properties, you might have an older breaker that was replaced with a high ampacity breaker, which could lead to higher levels of current than the circuit was designed for. In this case, a warm outlet could be a symptom of this mismatched wiring, and your electrician can rectify this for you.
5. You’re building is older
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that older buildings may require regular and more frequent maintenance, checks and assessments. It is savvy to get your older office building inspected by an experienced electrician prior to moving in, as your electrical wiring and setup can be decades older than that of a new modern office building. The chances of the insulation around the wiring being insufficient or worn out, or out of date can be significantly higher.
Therefore it is a good idea to have regularly scheduled electrical maintenance performed by a reliable, trusted electrician. Your electrician can inspect the old wiring and insulation, replace it where needed, and take extra measures such as installing safety switches for extra security. They can conduct all the right safety tests to check the wiring in your older build can actually safely support the load that is plugged into it.
Without a regular electrical maintenance program, your business can cost you unnecessary time and money in the form of interruptions, repairs, and wasted energy charges, especially if you’re in an older building. You could be at a higher risk of worker injury or even death.
6. Burning smell when switching on appliances
It might seem quite obvious to some but if you ever smell a burning smell when switching on an appliance, you need to call an experienced electrician straight away. Everyone in your office is responsible for the safety of themselves and other workers. The old adage if you see something say something is imperative.
How much will electrical maintenance cost?
A thorough commercial electrical maintenance plan can empower your business to reduce risks, enhance safety, and lower costs. By working with a trusted, licensed electrician, you can eliminate energy and overhead power wasters and potential causes of interruption to your business, and in the process provide your employees with a safe and efficient working environment.
If you’re looking for an experienced electrician for your office electrical maintenance? Get in touch with our team of experts today to find out how we can help.