Submitted by Interstate Electrical Services Corp.
Like it or not, winter is upon us here in New England. This is one of the most important seasons for property owners to ensure their facilities are receiving the proper maintenance and ongoing service. The Interstate team answered a few common maintenance questions to help property owners feel prepared for the cold weather.
What are some essential electrical maintenance tasks that all commercial property owners should perform regularly?
There are several critical tasks that we recommend all commercial property owners complete on a regular basis and are part of our quarterly service visits. The top two priorities are the fire alarm systems and emergency lighting systems, since these are invaluable in the case of an emergency. On a quarterly basis, we also recommend testing the generator and Automatic Transfer Switch (also called an ATS) to ensure it is functioning as expected. Finally, the transformer and distribution connections should be checked regularly. Once per year, the main breakers from a distribution panel should be exercised.
What electrical systems and components are the most important to keep running smoothly with regular maintenance?
The main distribution panel is generally the most important single component. This panel receives the electrical line from outside and feeds all the other panels in the building or on the property. Part of Interstate’s regular maintenance includes using thermal imaging on all breakers to help identify if there is a loose connection or other issue within a panel that isn’t identifiable by the naked eye. We also check the torque settings routinely to make sure they maintain a consistent tightness, never too loose or too tight. Other components to check and maintain include the lighting controls, the fire alarm control panels, and any major networking components.
What are the most important things for property owners to keep in mind about their electrical systems between electrical maintenance visits?
One thing that often gets overlooked in between maintenance visits is keeping the electrical room and surrounding area clean and secure. Though they are usually located in basements or other behind-the-scenes areas, it is important to keep electrical rooms free of debris and clean as if it was any other part of the building. The electrical room is not a storage area. It is critical that all components can be easily accessed at any time in case of an emergency or an unexpected maintenance issue arises. Additionally, property owners should ensure that unauthorized personnel are prevented from entering electrical rooms.
Finally, we urge our clients to keep extensive records of work that has been done previously. This is very helpful to keep track of what’s been done (and when) to either anticipate future issues or prevent duplicate work.