What is the Most Common Cause of Electrical Problems?

When the electrical system at your workplace is down, it can cause major interruptions to your productivity and workflow at best, and serious hazards at worst. These interruptions can be costly to your business’s bottom line, and electrical issues impact a large percentage of your property’s total value.

Taking proper precautions, such as adhering to electrical wire color codes and other standardized safety procedures, can help minimize risk of electrical problems. Common causes of electrical issues include exposed wiring, short circuits (for example, short circuits can result in burnt outlets, causing a fire), excessive load, and more.

However, loose wires are the leading cause of electrical problems in the workplace. In fact, loose wires and connections contribute to over 30% of electrical failures, and are the leading cause for power outages.

Luckily, you can avoid disaster by scheduling annual electrical inspections with a licensed electrician.

Other Common Causes of Electrical Issues

Loose wires and loose connections aren’t the only dangers you need to be aware of in your workplace–there are other factors that can lead to hazardous conditions and damages. In order to avoid injuries, fires, and even minor explosions, regularly check your workplace for the following conditions:

Outdated and Damaged Electrical Equipment or Appliances

If the equipment or appliance you plug into the outlet is damaged or outdated, it can potentially burn or short circuit the outlet. Equipment used in workplaces tends to wear out faster than equipment used at home, because more people use the equipment more frequently.

This can apply to everything from the coffeemaker in the breakroom to the manufacturing equipment in the factory. The wires and cords can deteriorate over time and overheat from frequent use, leading to the electrical current to overload or jump from wire to wire. When this happens, it can create a hazardous short circuit, which can lead to electrocution and fires.

Improper Grounding

Improper grounding is actually an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violation. Improper grounding occurs when a circuit is not grounded properly and the unwanted voltage cannot be safely eliminated. When your electrical system is not connected to the earth’s conductive surface, there isn’t anywhere to redirect excess current from the electrical system.

This excess can cause overheating, leading to short circuits and electrical fires. To verify your electrical system is properly grounded, hire a professional electrician to survey your system.

Overloaded Circuits

In workspaces, it’s easy to overload circuits. Whether your building caters primarily to desk jobs or production and shipping, your staff are likely using a considerable amount of power. This can include space heaters, powering computers, printers, and more.

Typically, there are not enough sockets for every device in your workplace. Employees may use powerstrips to power all of their devices. When multiple devices (especially those with high voltages) are plugged into extension cords and powerstrips, this can overload the circuit.

You can resolve these issues by familiarizing your trained personnel with the switch controls on a circuit breaker, creating regulations around extension cords and powerstrips, and hiring a professional electrician to resolve any issues.

Wet Conditions

Water is a natural conduit for electricity, so combining both electrical equipment and water can be extremely dangerous. When electricity comes into contact with water, the electrical current can flow throughout the water and the power intensifies. This increases risk for electrocution, especially if damaged electrical equipment makes contact with water.

If you can, safely turn off the power to the wet electrical equipment. Never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions unless you have the necessary protective equipment and training.

Damaged Insulation

If your insulation is damaged or improperly installed, you run the risk of exposed wires and electrocution. If you see damaged insulation on any wires or cords, remove the equipment so that it is no longer in use.

Covering the wires with electrical tape will not provide sufficient insulation. You must either have an electrician repair the insulation or replace the equipment.


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