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The Significance of Maintaining Electrical Systems in Buildings

As buildings age, both their exterior and interior components, including electrical systems, are prone to wear and deterioration. Proper maintenance of electrical systems is paramount to prevent severe hazards to buildings and their occupants. Neglecting electrical systems can lead to significant risks, such as fires and the potential for electrocution, as highlighted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s report of $2.7 billion in losses attributed to nonresidential building fires in 2017.

Identifying Issues

Approximately 90% of a building’s electrical system remains concealed behind walls, making it challenging to detect issues until they escalate. Facilities managers should be vigilant in recognizing common electrical system problems, including:

  • Flickering or dimming lights when major appliances are in use
  • Hot spots, such as overheated light switches, outlets, or electrical panels
  • Circuit breakers frequently tripping or blown fuses
  • Dysfunctional outlets
  • Burning odors, indicating potential wire insulation melting

Facilities managers must prioritize updating and maintaining electrical systems to address these issues proactively.

Causes of Failures

Numerous factors contribute to the failure of aging electrical systems, including:

  • Outdated Components: Technological advancements render previously standard parts obsolete. Examples include knob and tube wiring, prone to insulation breakdown, and aluminum wiring, known for increased fire hazard risks.
  • Old Panels: Aging electrical panels, like those manufactured by the Federal Pacific Electric Company, can deteriorate, leading to surges, sparks, and potential fires.
  • Worn-Out Components: Electrical systems typically show signs of aging after 25 to 30 years, with components wearing out and becoming less efficient.
  • Changes in Building Needs: Evolving building purposes may outpace the capabilities of existing electrical systems, necessitating upgrades to meet modern demands.
  • Lack of Maintenance: Inadequate upkeep, including temporary fixes, can compromise electrical systems, highlighting the importance of adhering to safety codes and regulations.

Risk Management Actions

Preventive measures and periodic inspections are crucial for mitigating risks associated with faulty electrical systems. Key actions include:

  • Conducting Regular Inspections: Professional, licensed electricians should inspect and test electrical systems every three to five years to minimize unexpected shutdowns.
  • Utilizing Infrared Thermography: This technology detects potential issues such as hot spots and corroded connections, aiding in reducing energy costs and ensuring a safe environment.
  • Hiring Licensed Electricians: Upgrading electrical systems should be entrusted to licensed professionals to ensure compliance with current safety codes and standards.
  • Investing in Resources: Proper investments in maintenance and upgrades are essential to safeguarding the integrity and safety of buildings and occupants.

For comprehensive risk management guidance, feel free to reach out to us today.

Knauf Maxwell Insurance Services

This Commercial Property Insights provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. For tailored guidance, readers are encouraged to consult legal counsel or licensed insurance professionals. © 2024 Knauf Maxwell Insurance Services. All rights reserved.