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Why Your Electrical System’s Age Matters

It’s no secret that 30th birthdays are a big deal for us, but did you know that turning 30 is an especially big milestone for your facility’s electrical distribution system?

Any electrical distribution system is subject to deterioration and declining reliability as it ages, but systems that have passed their 30th birthdays have a much greater occurrence of failure – and fire – if they’ve been exposed to repeated surges, power outages, load changes, moisture and dirt as they age. Additionally, their insulation can dry out, become brittle and then crumble. That leads to arcing, fire and overall equipment breakdown.

If you’re not sure just how old your facility’s electrical system is, check the age of the building itself. The two are likely the same age.

If your system is older than 30: If you haven’t recently had your system checked out, it’s time for a major checkup and, potentially, system repairs or upgrades. Repairing or replacing older or obsolete electrical systems during a planned upgrade project prevents long business or service interruptions when equipment must be unexpectedly replaced under duress.

Additionally, regular service by a licensed electrician will reduce the risk of fire; keep staff, volunteers, members and visitors safe; and cut overall costs. The cost of routine maintenance is generally significantly less than the cost of breakdown repair.

If your system is younger than 30: With proper maintenance, including regularly scheduled inspections, you can increase your electrical system’s longevity while at the same time reducing the risk of failure and/or fire. Familiarize yourself with the key signs that indicate your electrical system needs to be serviced, then read our article on Electrical Preventive Maintenance Programs to learn more about establishing routine checkups at your facility.

It’s also important to note that regardless of your electrical distribution system’s age, any repairs or upgrades must be:

  • Fully compliant with local and national electrical codes.
  • Performed by a licensed electrical contractor. This contractor may employ a professional electrical engineer to perform the necessary engineering and verify compliance with all pertinent codes.
  • Reflected in the original electrical drawings. Ensure that the proper permits are secured from the local building department and that local or state inspectors have approved the electrical work.

This is the third article in the Electrical Loss Prevention series that 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 the second, on the benefits of an Electrical Preventive Maintenance Program, here.

© 2023 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.