Recognizing the risks of electrical fires is essential for new business owners. If you've just bought your first commercial property, you may not fully understand what the risks are of electrical fires or what you should do to prevent them. In addition to working closely with a commercial electrician for a thorough evaluation, here are some things that you should know.
What Kinds Of Things Cause Electrical Fires?
One of the biggest challenges for first-time business owners is recognizing what just needs to be fixed and what could actually pose a risk of an electrical fire. For example, any wiring that's visibly corroded or otherwise damaged could be a fire hazard. Wiring exposed to the elements and corrosive materials will break down quickly, leading to a short that can cause a serious fire. Wiring with damaged insulation is also a concern because it leaves the wire inside exposed. Industrial buildings, manufacturing plants, and old buildings are at particular risk with these concerns simply because of the nature of the construction and the age of the wiring.
Electrical circuits and fuses are another source of concern. If your building is frequently struggling with tripped breakers or blown fuses, that's a key indication that the outlet or the circuit has been overloaded with electrical current. This overload can cause the outlet to overheat, putting you at risk of an electrical fire.
If you've noticed any loose wiring connections, switches, fuse panels, or other similar vulnerabilities, these should also be taken seriously. Even if it means having to install an additional circuit to manage the capacity, it's important to address these problems.
How Can You Minimize These Risks?
Understanding the things that pose an electrical threat to your building is one thing, but knowing how to identify those problems and prevent them from becoming disasters is a whole different situation.
One of the best ways to spot damaged wiring and other similar problems is through the use of infrared thermal image cameras. These cameras are portable, easily operated, and provide you with a clear picture of what's going on with your wiring inside the walls. The scanner identifies any potential hot spots in the wiring before they lead to an actual short that could cause a fire.
You should have this kind of evaluation done at least once a year, or more if you're concerned for your building. It's in your best interest to have the scan done by a licensed electrician because he or she will be trained to read the equipment and also to know where to test. You'll get a full report when the scan is over.
Another thing you should do is have your electrician do a thermal image of all of your electrical distribution equipment. When the thermal is done, request a direct inspection. You'll want to have the distribution equipment cleaned regularly to help you avoid any kind of short that could spark a fire. If your building runs multiple energy sources and you have an electric transfer switch to regulate it, you'll want to make sure that's tested, inspected, and maintained as well. A short in the transfer switch could overload the circuit you're switching to if you're not careful. Go to websites like this one to learn more about electric transfer switches.
The more attentive you can be to your commercial building's electrical supply and equipment, the greater your chances of preserving its integrity. Don't dismiss the risk of electrical fires until it's too late. Work with a licensed electrician to ensure that your system is stable, secure, and properly cared for. If you want more confidence, see about installing surge protection on your entire infrastructure, including the transfer switch and your incoming lines from the main power feed.