As the manager of a commercial building, you are most likely used to hearing the words codes, permits, and inspections being thrown around. Especially when it comes to the electrical equipment in your building. There are a lot of codes and standards that need to be followed to ensure your electrical systems are running safely and reliably.
To help you understand some of the maintenance jobs that need to be completed routinely, we have put together an electrical maintenance checklist.
1. Test and inspect all residual current devices (RCDs)
RCDs are an essential safety device in your electrical systems. They help prevent electric shocks if you touch a live wire and can also help prevent electrical fires. It is incredibly important that your building’s RCDs are running correctly. Your RCDs should be tested every 3 months. Testing RCDs involves accessing each one and pressing the ‘test’ button quickly and then releasing it. The button will only test if an electricity supply is connected. When you press the button, a test earth leakage fault is simulated. This indicates if the device is operating correctly. If it isn’t operating correctly you will need to engage a licensed electrical contractor to replace the RCD.
2. Test and inspect all emergency lighting and exit signs
In commercial buildings, exit signs and emergency lighting are important safety features. As per AS2293, these should be tested once every 6 months by a trained electrician. Any defective lights then need to be replaced immediately. To test your emergency lighting and exit signs a 90-minute discharge test is performed. This ensures your systems will be functional in an emergency to allow all building occupants to exit safely.
3. Check and test all surge protection devices
Surge protection devices (SPDs) are designed to protect your building’s electrical systems from electrical surges and spikes. This includes surges caused by lightning. SPDs are both complete devices and are used as components in other electronic devices. With the prevalence of complex electronics like LED lighting, photovoltaics, and devices with microprocessors, SPDs have become more common. These devices need regular testing to ensure they are operating effectively. If they are not, it is imperative that they are fixed by a licensed electrician.
4. Check and test all lightning protection systems
As the name suggests, lightning protection systems are essential components of protecting your building’s structure and electrical systems from lightning strikes. They also reduce the risk of structural fires. Testing lightning protection systems involves specialised high-voltage testing systems. During these tests, your system is tested for resistance to earth, continuity of down conductors and continuity and adequacy of your air termination network. Checking for loose connections, corrosion, and the integrity of grounding electrodes is also vital.
5. Check Power Factor Correction units
Power Factor Correction (PFC) units are designed to lower energy costs, improve equipment life, and reduce emissions. These units allow you to use energy more efficiently by injecting the right amounts of electricity to smooth your demand throughout the day and reduce reliance on peak-time energy. If your commercial building uses a lot of power, these can help reduce overhead costs. Of course, these systems do need to be regularly tested. Without regular maintenance, your PFC unit will lose efficiency over time. Generally, an annual service is enough to ensure these units operate at peak efficiency.
6. Inspect and test all electrical transformers and generators including controls for proper operation and any signs of damage
Your building’s electrical transformers and generators are essential to the operation of your building’s electrical systems. They need to be up and running, or your building won’t be. It is critical that these systems are tested and inspected frequently. An experienced electrician will know which visual signs to look out for. They will inspect the overall look of the transformer, check the wiring, take voltage readings, and more to ensure it is up to standards. Any faults should then be repaired, and broken equipment replaced.
7. Conduct a thermal imaging survey to identify any electrical hot spots or defects
Damage to electrical systems can sometimes be difficult to spot without invasive methods or thermal imaging technology. Using thermal imaging technology, defects can be found in the form of hot spots. These hot spots are areas that are operating at a higher temperature than normal, which is often a sign of a defect. Without a thermal imaging inspection, these defects would not be found until something breaks, at which point replacing damaged parts can be expensive. Finding hot spots allows maintenance to be performed preemptively, reducing costs, and waste.
8. Inspect and test all electrical panels, switchboards and circuit breakers for proper operation and labelling
Electrical panels, switchboards, and circuit breakers are all common components of commercial electrical systems and require regular maintenance. As they are an essential part of your electrical system they should be tested for proper operations. A qualified electrician will be able to test your switchboards, circuit breakers, and electrical panels to the required legislated standards. This often requires specialised equipment to complete.
9. Inspect your lighting
Testing and inspecting your lighting is essential for ensuring a safe and healthy environment, promoting productivity, and identifying potential hazards. It helps to identify any issues that may compromise the integrity of the lighting system, such as burnt-out bulbs or flickering lights. Regular testing and inspection of lighting systems can help to ensure that they are functioning optimally, reducing the likelihood of accidents, errors, and negative health outcomes
Regular inspection and maintenance of electrical systems is a normal part of operating a commercial building. However, it is critical to know that there are many standards, codes, and legal requirements to adhere to. The most effective way to ensure you meet these requirements for every component of your system is to have a qualified electrician perform each inspection.
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to ensure your commercial building is operating to the required standards.