6 Common Commercial Electrical Problems

Jul 23, 2021
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Since electricity has become part and parcel of our everyday lives today, it’s not far-fetched to categorize it as a basic need in this day and age. This resource isn’t only important in private homes but also commercial buildings. Imagine your business without a stable power connection. Without an electrician help, would it run? Probably not! So it is important to get help from an electrical company that offers commercial electrical services.


There are, however, several popular faults that can easily hinder your operations if not given proper attention. For instance, flickering lights can be a sign of loose connections, which can easily cause fire in the building. Therefore, it’s imperative that you understand some of the common electrical issues and electrical repair that are synonymous with commercial buildings. This way, you’ll be able to solve them and prevent an even bigger disaster. Keep reading to learn more!


1. Tripping Circuit Breakers


This is another common problem seen in most commercial buildings. What is a circuit breaker and what causes it to trip? By definition, a circuit breaker is a switching device used for protecting an electric power system. It can either be manually or automatically controlled, depending on the building’s needs. Of course, every type of circuit breaker has a different operating mechanism, but the idea is still the same—the system will trip when there is too much electricity flowing through it.


But what causes too much electric current to flow through a circuit breaker? There are three main culprits when it comes to this issue—overloads, short circuits, and ground faults. Here’s a quick rundown on the each:


• Circuit overload


As the name suggests, circuit overload occurs when you try to drain more electricity from a particular line than it was designed to provide. The fact that a given circuit has five outlets doesn’t necessarily mean it can handle five loads at the same time, especially if they are high-wattage appliances.


During electrical installation, if you ignore this rule and connect the loads anyway, the power demands will most likely trip the circuit breaker. This is quite common in those commercial building’s housing businesses that use heavy machinery in their operations. To avoid this issue from occurring, you should always be vigilant and ensure that the breakers installed in every circuit can sustain all devices or appliances connected to that line. If everything looks okay in the consumer unit box but the breakers are still tripping, then there might be short circuits somewhere along the power line.


• Short circuit


A short circuit is another factor that might be causing the tripping and is even more dangerous than a circuit overload. This basically occurs when the live and neutral wires come into contact with one another. Of course, it’s sometimes more complicated than that, but all short circuit problems arise from this basic fault. In the process, more current will flow through the circuit because of the “electric shortcut,” an occurrence that causes a lot of heat. When the current rises beyond the desired levels, the circuit breaker will trip and cut off the line from the main power supply.


Inasmuch as circuit breakers help prevent damages and fire disasters, frequent short-circuiting could still put people’s lives and properties at risk. Therefore, it’s imperative that you address the issue as soon as possible. The best way to tackle it is to call an electrician so they can assess the problem at hand and any other related issues.


• Faulty ground


Earthing is very important in any electrical system because it helps conduct away any excess current. However, it’s quite common to experience ground fault surges in commercial buildings. This normally occurs when the live or hot wire comes in contact with the earth system. 


Keep in mind that this line consists of a bare copper rod, the yellow-green wire, and the meter box whose body is usually connected to the ground wire. The aforementioned surges, therefore, occur when the live wire touches any of these parts. In such a case, the excess electric current that would have otherwise been conducted to the ground is fed back to the circuit. As you’d expect, there’s a risk of having excess electricity flowing in the circuit, and that causes the breaker to trip in the long run. Again, it’s advisable that you call a professional to look into the issue rather than trying to solve it yourself. 


2. Dimming or Flickering Lights


One of the most common electrical issues you might have come across in any commercial or private building is flickering lights. Depending on the cause of this problem, it may end up triggering a fire accident within the building. Therefore, you need to take care of this fault as soon as you notice it.


So what causes flickering lights? There are many things that can lead to this problem. In most cases, it’s usually due to a loose connection. Apart from your bulb’s behavior, there should also be sparks emitted in this scenario. If you’ve been working with electricity and wirings long enough, you already know that sparks can damage the entire electricity system if not repaired in time.


Although it’s quite rare, sometimes this issue might be as a result of a faulty bulb. As such, it’s always recommended that you consider replacing your LED or fluorescent tube as the first course of action. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then you might want to contact a professional technician to assess the system. Of course, you can do the repairs yourself, but given the dangers associated with electricity when not handled properly and without the right gear, it’d be prudent to hire an electrician, unless you’re very sure about what you’re doing. (2)


3. Bulbs Burning Out


Bulbs burning out occasionally shouldn’t cause any alarm, especially if there’s no particular pattern. However, there are commercial buildings that have experienced this issue on a regular basis. For instance, sometimes many lights—or even all of them—can burn out at the same time and the same problem recurs quite often.


It’s worth noting, though, that overuse of any lighting system—whether fluorescent or halogen—can cause them to burn out. If this describes your situation, you might want to consider using natural light during the day. If that seems almost impossible, then it would be prudent to invest in a more durable lighting system.


A poor electrical connection might also be the cause of your problem. For one, any loose connection, especially one that causes flickering lights, can shorten the bulbs’ useful life. Another connection issue that might lead to these damages is the wrong choice of a circuit breaker. Remember, all lights are designed to use a certain level of power beyond which they’ll burn out. The standard miniature circuit breaker (MCB) choice for any lighting system is 6A. If you’re convinced that there’s no loose connection in the system, you can check the installed MCB to ascertain that it’s the right one before calling an expert to help you out. 


4. Dead Outlets


Quite common in old buildings, the issue of dead outlets doesn’t pose a direct danger to the users, but it hinders the building users’ overall productivity. When some of the socket outlets aren’t working, the user will need to find a way of fitting all the appliances to the available outlets or reduce the number of machines running at a time. The first option will probably lead to regular tripping of the circuit breakers, while reducing the number of machines decreases one’s productivity.


So what could be the root cause of dead outlets? One of the most common factors leading to this problem is circuit overload. Connecting several high-wattage appliances or equipment to one socket may result in overheating, which can either trip the circuit breaker or burn the live wire till it disconnects. 


Whether the electrician suggests that the whole outlet be replaced or have its parts repaired, always insist on high-quality products. Just like any other industry, the electrical sector is full of counterfeit products. Installing substandard sockets, switches, and circuit breakers will prove costly in the long run. Purchasing high-quality items, however, will ensure your electrical system lasts many more years, not to mention the safety of those working within the building.


commercial electrical problem


5. Old Wiring


Although it might be hard to trace, old wiring is another very common commercial electrical problem. Old wiring system means the whole line from the meter box, to the consumer unit, and, finally, to any localized outlet like the pantry socket. If your building is still relying on its initial wiring system and you’re experiencing issues, then it might be time to update the system. 


This issue is quite common in those structures that have been around for several decades, not only because of the aging wires but also due to the fact that the whole electrical system has been overworked through the years. (1)


So how will you know that your wiring needs to be replaced? Here are some signs to keep in mind:


• Shocking socket outlets


Have you ever felt a slight electric shock when touching a switch or socket outlet? This is a clear indication that the wiring system needs some work. In most cases, it could be a loose connection or a wire shorting through the conduit. However, some situations require a complete overhaul of the electrical system for it to operate at its optimum level while meeting modern consumer needs.


So if you’ve replaced the suspected switch or outlet and the problem hasn’t gone away, it might be a good idea to have the system thoroughly examined. An electrical professional will be able to complete this task and advise you on what should be done next.


• Burning smell


You’re probably familiar with this burning smell which occurs mostly when there is a short circuit. Overloading the circuit can also result in the same due to frequent sparks and the excess heat going through some of the cables. If you experience this, it would be prudent to contact an expert and have the electrical system checked within the shortest time possible. This way, you’ll not only save on any related damages, but you’ll also be providing a safe and conducive business environment for your tenants.


6. Faulty Connections


We’ve talked about loose connections, dead outlets, and flickering lights. Although this might not be true for all cases, such problems are synonymous with a reckless technician. For instance, if the screws holding a wire to a socket outlet aren't tightened enough, you’ll have a loose connection that’ll definitely lead to dangerous sparks. 


Such faulty connections are a result of hiring an inexperienced or unprofessional technician and someone who doesn’t have all the required certifications expected in their profession. It’s a common problem in commercial buildings because most owners are always looking to minimize the cost of operation. The pressure to beat the set deadlines might be another cause of this issue. 


As you’d expect, this electrical problem can only be solved after assessing the whole building. Find a certified electrical technician who’ll be able to assess your connections, reinstall new wires, if needed, and ensure that they meet the minimum industry standards. Of course, it’s worth noting again that purchasing high-quality products will have a greater lifespan and reduce unnecessary accidents.


Conclusion


It is always best to talk to your electrical contractor during electrical installation. Get the best commercial electrical services that will do a professional job and always ask for a reliable electrician's help for electrical safety of your commercial building.  Electricity is one of your business needs, but when left unattended and ill maintained, it can also be a source of nightmares, especially for commercial building owners and tenants so it is recommended that you need to have a proper electrical maintenance and commercial electrical repair. Depending on the condition of the building, problems could arise that building personnel and every tenant working in these buildings should keep in mind. 


For one, flickering lights may be a cause for alarm because this can easily lead to fire disasters. Old wiring is another problem that’s quite common in older buildings. Of course, you’ll need a certified electrician to assess the situation and advise you accordingly. Dead outlets and frequent burning out of bulbs are other issues that might require the help of a professional.


All these electrical problems commonly experienced in commercial buildings should be addressed as soon as possible. With proper electrical installation, check-up, and maintenance, you’ll be able to ensure the safety of everyone working in and around your commercial building.


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