FAQs: The Dangers of Aging Electrical Equipment

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The Dangers of Aging Electrical Equipment Schneider ElectricAging electrical equipment and components are not only inefficient, they’re potentially dangerous. Overheating in electrical enclosures, usually caused by loose connections and friction (due to lack of or improper lubrication) can shorten the life of the equipment or worse, lead to costly downtime. Listed below are commonly asked industry questions and answers regarding the risk of aging electrical equipment:

Q:  How do I know which aging equipment could put my facility at risk?

A:  Facility managers can feel overwhelmed by the daunting task of applying limited operating and maintenance and capital funds in the right places. Having an OSHA-required arc flash risk assessment performed is a good starting point. The study will identify improvements to the electrical system that can improve safety and reliability, while providing updated single-lines, equipment condition inspection, maintenance assessment, and other productivity-enhancing recommendations.

Q:  What maintenance mistakes are commonly made with existing equipment?

A:  A lack of maintenance being performed! Electrical equipment gets installed and forgotten about. Regular maintenance is essential for the upkeep and longevity of any system. Where maintenance is being performed, not following specific guidelines and procedures (torque settings, etc.) have caused financial and human damages. In addition, many facilities do not have current documentation of their electrical systems, like single-line drawings. These are essential for supporting vital tasks like lock-out/tag-out (which is fundamental to any maintenance procedure), testing and troubleshooting, and load balancing.

Q:  Can modern equipment warn about imminent failures?

A:  Yes, absolutely, with the downsizing in labor forces there are fewer opportunities to do in-person inspections by qualified personnel. The ability to program alarming for indication of potential failures is indispensable. Today’s intelligent power monitoring and controls systems can also support migration from time-based maintenance, to condition-based, where maintenance cycles can be based on actual circuit conditions instead of specific time intervals.

Q:  Is it worth upgrading my existing electrical equipment?

A:  The reality today is that facilities are facing rising energy costs issues AND changing code requirements. Upgrading aging electrical equipment allows for more flexible, scalable power availability.

 Q:  What should I consider regarding electrical system and/or component upgrades?

A:  Aging or legacy equipment may not have to be replaced in order to upgrade the power system. A variety of life-extension, refurbishment, and reconditioning options are available. Switchgear modernization solutions, for example, leave the footprint of the existing equipment intact while upgrading the line-up with new low- or medium-voltage circuit breakers to current technology, which reduces the need for hard to find spare parts. Utilizing the existing structure and footprint saves time and money.

Upgrading to modern technology is easier than you think! Click to get additional resources and a quote!


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  • Dennis Cronin

    7 years ago

    Schneider Electric continues to do a great job informing the industry about reliability and availability but like most sales focused firms, there tends to be a lack of depth in the questions and answers posted.
    Everyone agrees that Electrical systems need Maintenance but few ever delve into what is the Maintenance and what is its frequency.
    The same is true of Electrical Codes. What’s changed and What’s going to change?
    Going forward, lets talk more about the actual Maintenance and the factors that affect frequency and then we can get into what products to buy as replacements.

  • Mike Lederhause

    6 years ago

    Your article talks about lubrication along with replacement but it does not mention what to lubricate with. A friend of mine has a house in Wyoming near storage tanks from an oil well. The H2s emitted from the oil production has turned all the coper wires in the house black. Recently she created a short with a ground fault detector and it burned up the detector rather than tripping the circuit breaker. I am sure at this point the breakers should be replaced but the new ones will rapidly corrode again. Lear Chemical makes a product called ACF50 that is a corrosion inhibitor and is approved for use in aircraft and the aerospace industry to stop and prevent corrosion. I talked to the folks at Lear and they said they had not tested it specifically for the H2s but were sure it would prevent the corrosion this gas causes on copper. It is also a lubricate.

    My concern is would it be proper to spray this on the inside of circuit breakers to prevent the corrosion and lubricate the breaker. ACF50 is non conductive and I use it often when dealing with corrosion from the Mag Chloride on automobile electrical systems.

    If ACF50 is not the answer is there a product you sell or know of that would prevent the corrosion from the H2s?


    Mike Lederhause

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