A Rulebook on Performing Electrical Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on electrical devices can save a business thousands of dollars in repair costs. It also helps prevent major issues, such as fires.
In order to do this, companies must have a good understanding of their equipment and systems. This allows them to make informed decisions.
1. Do Not Touch
When handling electrical maintenance, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never touch live conductors. This is because it can cause serious injuries or death.
You can easily prevent this by simply not touching any energized circuits or equipment that you come into contact with.
Similarly, you should also avoid touching cords that are twisted or damaged. You may not be able to see what’s wrong, but if you try to untangle them it can be extremely dangerous.
One other thing you can do is use insulated tools when working on electrical equipment. This will help protect you from an accidental current passing through your body should a spark or accident occur.
2. Keep Your Hands Dry
Keeping your hands dry is one of the best ways to protect yourself from electrocution. Water conducts electricity and can damage appliances, equipment, and even you.
If you need to touch any electrical equipment, be sure to do it while your hands are dry and wear nonconductive gloves. In addition, work with only one hand, and keep that hand at your side or in your pocket away from any conductive material.
It is also a good idea to use non-conducting tools. These include metal pencils, rulers and even rings. This is because the small metallic items can conduct enough current to burn your fingers, should they touch a point on an electrical circuit.
3. Use Insulated Tools
Insulated tools are designed to protect workers from electrical shock or arcing when they’re working around live equipment. They’re needed when opening or closing panels, connecting and disconnecting contacts, cutting wires, servicing batteries, troubleshooting circuit breakers, and more.
The most common types of insulated tools are screwdrivers, pliers and cutters. They typically have two layers of insulation.
Those two layers provide twice the protection against flashover, shock, burns and dropped tool shorts.
They also feature a thick barrier at the top of the handle that prevents a worker’s hand from sliding above the insulation.
These tools are used by electricians, maintenance and HVAC technicians, and anyone else who works on or near energized equipment. They’re also a requirement for most job sites where modifying or maintaining switchgear, motor starters and battery banks are done.
4. Disconnect the Power First
A disconnect switch is an important part of any electrical system, and should be in place before any work begins. These devices allow workers to power down a circuit entirely, creating a safe environment for them to perform any necessary repairs or maintenance.
A good disconnect switch should meet specific, strictly regulated specifications and standards to ensure their function and design. In addition, they often facilitate lock-out/tag-out procedures for motors and other critical power systems equipment.
When using a disconnect switch, it is usually a good idea to temporarily ground the conductors of a supposedly dead power system before making contact with them. This helps prevent an unexpected short-circuit that could cause damage or even a fatal electric shock.
5. Do Not Touch Live Conductors
Whenever you touch an active electrical circuit, whether it’s a wire, a cord, or someone else, you need to be careful. The voltage is very high, and even a small amount can cause shock.
In this sense, it’s very important not to wear metal jewelry or any other conductive items when handling electrical maintenance. These will conduct the current through your body and cause burns or other severe injuries, even if you’re working at low voltages.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you should always turn off the power source before working on anything that could potentially become energized. This means shutting off the main switch or circuit breaker.
6. Do Not Use Electrical Equipment in Cold Rooms
In cold rooms, it’s important to minimize the use of electrical equipment because of condensation. If you must utilize electrical equipment in these environments, mount the device on a wall or vertical panel.
If water or chemical spills occur, immediately shut off power at the main switch or circuit breaker and unplug the equipment.
To reduce the risk of an accident that results in current passing through your chest cavity, work with one hand, keeping the other at your side or in your pocket.
Always use insulated tools or testing equipment when working with electricity. If the tool is not insulated, use a double-insulated power tool or one with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters protecting the circuits.
7. Do Not Remove Water or Chemicals from Electrical Equipment
If water or chemicals are spilled on equipment, shut off power immediately at a main switch or circuit breaker and unplug the apparatus.
Electrical equipment is highly conductive and can be ignited when it comes into contact with water or chemicals. This can result in electrocutions, burns or other serious injuries.
In addition, when handling equipment, be sure that your hands are dry and insulated if possible. This rule is especially important when servicing or repairing equipment.
8. Disconnect the Power Source First
When handling electrical maintenance, always disconnect the power source first before you touch anything that could be energized. This is the only way to ensure that your efforts aren’t in vain.
The simplest and most practical method is to turn off the circuit breaker at the main service panel, or at the main disconnect fuse block in the panel. Once you’ve done this, it should be safe to work with electrical equipment.
Another method that can be very helpful when working on high voltage equipment is to temporarily ground the load, by connecting a small wire between the conductor and the floor. This creates a “grounded” effect that can reduce the risk of injury to anyone working near the conductor. This is an effective safety measure that’s used on many types of high voltage electrical equipment, including capacitors and switches.
9. Do Not Touch a Short Circuit
Short circuits are a common problem that can cause fires and electrical burns in your home. They occur when a wire carrying a current comes into contact with a neutral wire that does not carry any current.
When the hot and neutral wires touch, there’s instantly less resistance and a large volume of electricity travels in an unintended path. This can result in sparks, fires, and even electrocution.
There are many causes of a short circuit, but the most common are loose attachments and faulty insulation. Damaged insulation exposes the conducting wire, and loose attachments allow the live and neutral wires to touch.
10. Do Not Try to Correct a Short Circuit
A short circuit is a common electrical problem, and it should not be corrected by anyone other than an electrician. This can be dangerous because a short circuit could cause sparks, fires, or even electrocution.
When electricity flows through a circuit, it always seeks to travel along the path with the least resistance. A short circuit occurs when that path is interrupted and the current takes an unintended route instead.
This type of short can occur in many ways, from damaged wire insulation to incorrect wiring. Other causes include pests like rodents chewing on wires or water coming into contact with the wiring.