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Are These Hazards Present in Your Electrical Room?

Chances are, periodically checking your church’s electrical system doesn’t top your to-do list. It may not even make it on your list. But a quick check every now and then is worth it from a safety and cost perspective.

Two red flags you’ll want to look for in particular are missing covers and combustible materials, both of which can create expensive – and dangerous – problems if not corrected.

Missing Covers

Missing covers on junction boxes, panels, switches and receptacles expose the internal energized circuits to inadvertent contact or damage. This creates a potential for shock, arc flash and electrocution hazards. When covers are missing, dust, dirt and debris can enter the interior of the enclosure. Metallic objects could fall into open knockouts and short-circuit the internal wires and electrical devices.

Combustible Materials in Close Proximity

Electrical equipment can fail catastrophically. When this happens, heat from arcing can melt the wires, devices and electrical enclosures. Combustible materials (corrugated paper boxes, paper products, holiday decorations, wood and cleaning supplies, to name a few) in the vicinity of the arc flash can ignite and cause a building fire.

Steps to Take Now

Follow these best practices to maintain your electrical system and protect your facility:

Be selective. Restrict access to electrical rooms to authorized maintenance or operations personnel who understand the importance of maintaining a clean, well-ventilated electrical room.

Create breathing room. Excessive heat buildup will result in premature failure and shortened equipment service life. Store items – especially combustibles – at least 36 inches away from electrical panels, electrical equipment, and ventilation vents and openings. Doing so will ensure proper air circulation and cooling.

Clean and declutter. A concerted effort should be made to reduce the number of unused items in the electrical room and to store items in a neat and orderly fashion. Find a different spot for seasonal items, like holiday decorations, and janitorial/cleaning supplies. Keep the electrical room’s floor dry.

This is the fourth article in the Electrical Loss Prevention series that GuideOne Insurance is doing in conjunction with Hartford Steam Boiler, our equipment breakdown reinsurer. Here are the others:

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.