Maintenance of electrical equipment in buildings

Purpose of Electrical Maintenance

Besides safety, Electrical maintenance is necessary to keep the plant in acceptable condition. Such maintenance must be reviewed economically and in terms of energy efficiency.

Maintenance of electrical equipment in buildings (photo credit: Critical Power Testing and Maintenance, LLC. – cptam.com)

While plant failure can result in costly interruptions to normal building operation, it should also be borne in mind that shutting down facilities for maintenance can also result in loss of production.

Equipment in continuous and difficult service, eg. Control panels, motor control centers (MCCs), air handling units, cooling installations, etc., require more attention than lightly loaded and infrequently used ones.

Electrical Maintenance
Electrical Maintenance

First steps for economic and energy efficiency

In addition to the above considerations, there is the question of whether to repair or replace the defective equipment. This requires an analysis of past and future maintenance costs and the benefits of new equipment.

Much operational research has been conducted in areas such as the probability of failurereplacement and repair limits, and overhaul policies. This obviously requires considerable effort and expertise and may require the services of a specialist consultant.

However, some simple initial steps can be taken as far as economic and energy efficiency is concerned with the maintenance of electrical equipment in buildings.

1. Standardization of equipment

The use, wherever possible, of standard items such as switchgear, will facilitate the purchase, stock keeping, and replacement of components in the most economical and practical manner.

2. Establishment of records in case of failure

At first, this can be on a simple logbook or card system. This information should give an idea of ​​what plant needs attention and at what intervals. It could also lead to improvements to the plant itself, which would reduce the frequency of future outages.

3. Maintenance frequency

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This requires a careful organization to ensure that it matches operational requirements. All planned maintenance operations must therefore have been agreed with the relevant operations manager before implementation.

4. Economy of routine maintenance

It may not be economical or practical to include certain equipment in a planned routine although safety inspections will still need to be performed.

Examples of low priority, maintenance is equipment that is not prone to failure, for example. electric heaters, and equipment which would cause little or no interference with operational routine and which could be repaired or replaced at any time.

In some cases, it may be found that only 25% of the plant needs to be maintained on a scheduled routine throughout the year. While setting up a successful maintenance operation is not an easy task, the economic benefits can be substantial.

5. Upgrade to a more efficient factory

Energy savings can be achieved by changing the type of equipment used, for example:

1.     Replacing less efficient lamps with more energy-efficient lamps.

2.     Replacement of electromechanical control device s to electronic systems.

3.     Installation of new high efficiency motors to replace old ones, especially in extended service areas.

4.     Upgrade of VSD for flow control of fans or pumps.

The economics of changing inefficient existing systems, which continue to provide satisfactory operational performance, obviously require careful consideration. One must not only understand the costs of new equipment, but also equipment life to have a significant impact on the overall financial viability of any proposed change.

Emergency maintenance

Emergency maintenance can hardly be considered maintenance, in the sense that in many cases it is an urgent repair or replacement of electrical equipment that has stopped working efficiently.

Obviously, it is best to follow a ‘rigorous Scheduled Maintenance Schedule ‘ for all essential electrical installations and equipment in buildings to reduce the frequency of emergency maintenance tasks.

Planned maintenance

In the use of electrical installations and equipment, there are obvious sources of danger recognized in the Electricity (Wiring) Regulations.

These regulations are mandatory and serve to ensure that all electrical equipment and installations are properly maintained and tested to avoid any dangerous situation that could harm the users of this equipment or the occupants of the building.

Normally, maintenance performed solely for safety reasons will be covered by standard procedures, which in some cases will need to be fulfilled. the code of practice for the Electricity (Wiring) Regulations.

Planned maintenance can be performed based on the operation of the piece of electrical equipment itself. For example, it should be considered whether all-electric motors should be cleaned and inspected periodically, ensuring that dirt and dust do not interfere with the automatic cooling of the motor and that there is no oil leak in its windings.

The bearing should also be checked for wear to avoid contact between the rotor and stator. Maintenance can also be based on the whole installation or ancillary installations, such as the central air conditioning installation of a large building.

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