Switchgear preventative maintenance is essential for working electric systems. When you ignore switchgear and circuit breakers within it, you are headed for disaster—especially if you run a business with high electricity demands. Here are five precautions to take for switchgear and circuit breakers:
- Maintain disconnect switches: If circumstances demand you cut off the power, the last thing you want is a malfunctioning disconnect switch. Cleaning, lubricating and testing them is a vital exercise to take at least once a month. When you perform this testing, it is also a good time to drill for power outages. This ensures tools and procedures are ready if power outages affect your production.
- Perform inspections: Visual inspections of bus connections and breakers helps you find wear and tear before it affects the safety of your crew and the productivity of your site. This only needs to be an annual inspection, and you may want to consider an infrared thermal survey as well. The latter can pick up on microscopic breaches that can later cause fires or electrocution. If it has been a while since your equipment was thoroughly inspected, perform an infrared survey as soon as possible.
- Do not neglect testing procedures: Every two to three years, you should perform electrical testing of circuit breakers and transformers. Other tests include checking ground faults, cable insulation and contact resistance of fuses. If any of these elements fails, you will experience a power outage and likely expensive repairs. It is better to find problems before they explode (sometimes literally) than wait until you are making an emergency call to an electrician.
- Review your industry’s standards: The aerospace and fire protection industries recommend specific standards for electrical procedures. These include tests specifically for the needs of your equipment and site and other preventative maintenance that may be relevant specifically for your field. Failing to follow these procedures could lead to more than outages—you can also fail government inspections and incur fines. Do not cut these corners. Check out recommended maintenance programs that are specific to your line of business.
- Plan regular cleaning and lubrication sessions: Many electrical incidents arise from debris and surface damage like dents, rust and scratches. When switchgear becomes dirty, it is more likely to get jammed and make it difficult to redistribute power or shut it off when it is needed. Aside from your disconnect switches, you also need to address all current-carrying parts and sliding surfaces—basically any part that moves. This also includes vacuuming interiors and filters.
When your site contains switchgear and circuit breakers, you want safe, reliable and constant power without outages or serious accidents. Do not be the one who takes these systems for granted and wonders later why you now have a large repair bill. Use preventative maintenance to take the needed steps to avoid potential issues and make upgrading your system easier.