The Benefits of an Electrical Preventive Maintenance Program

This is the second article in the Electrical Loss Prevention series GuideOne Insurance is doing in conjunction with Hartford Steam Boiler, our equipment breakdown reinsurer. View the first article, an intro to the series, here. And stay tuned for next month’s article on issues with electrical systems that are more than 30 years old.

March 8, 2017 – Does your house of worship have a consistent Electrical Preventive Maintenance (EPM) program in place to keep the facility’s electrical system running efficiently and effectively?

If you answered “yes,” that’s great – keep it up! If you answered “no,” or you’re not quite sure what an EPM program is, here’s what it boils down to: A regular check-up for your electrical system. During each scheduled “appointment,” a professional inspects and tests your facility’s electrical equipment to keep it clean, cool and dry, and ensure that connections are tight.

Electrical equipment failures account for millions of dollars in damage and lost business every year. Ironically, more than two-thirds of electrical system failures can be avoided by a routine EPM program. The failure rate of electrical equipment is three times higher for components that are not part of a scheduled EPM program as compared with those that are. Additionally, a planned EPM program allows you to schedule system outages at times that are convenient to your congregation rather than having to correct major problems resulting from an always-untimely failure. An effective program will reduce equipment failure and unplanned down time. The time and effort to establish, implement and maintain an effective program has proven to be well worth the effort.

Frequency: In general, Hartford Steam Boiler recommends that preventive maintenance check-ups be conducted once every three years by a qualified electrician or licensed electrical contractor. Ultimately, though, these activities should be scheduled based on the condition of the equipment, historical information concerning the equipment and the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Some locations may require more frequent maintenance due to the physical environment or the operational nature of the electrical equipment. For example, harsh environments with excessive moisture or dust would warrant a more frequent EPM program. Similarly, consider more frequent programming for equipment that is essential for continued operation.

Recordkeeping: Document all routine maintenance activities and testing reports for trending purposes. Also track all repair and/or replacement of electrical components. When changes are made to the electrical distribution system, update all applicable drawing and maintenance scheduled to reflect the changes.

Best Practices: Here’s a breakdown of basic checks and inspections to help minimize the most common and frequent problems pertaining to electrical systems. Remember: Qualified electricians should perform any required testing, and additional testing and maintenance activities based on a facility’s components and age are required for a complete EPM program.

Electrical equipment rooms should:

  • Be free of excessive dust and dirt, airborne contaminates, and water or potential sources of water
  • Not be used for storage
  • Have limited access for required personnel only
  • Have adequate lighting

Electrical equipment should be:

  • Free from signs of moisture contamination
  • Free of debris on or around the equipment

Minimize heat buildup in electrical apparatus and in equipment rooms by:

  • Keeping outside surfaces clean
  • Keeping equipment spaces well-ventilated
  • Keeping ventilation openings clean and free from obstruction
  • Changing or cleaning any filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Inspecting seals and gaskets and repairing/replacing as needed

Electrical connections should be:

  • Scanned using infrared imaging to identify hot spots
  • Inspected for signs of arcing, corrosion and signs of excessive heating
  • Checked for proper tightness
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© 2018 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. 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.