Is it Time for an Electrical Wiring Upgrade in Your Facility?
The condition of the electrical wiring in your commercial facility has a widespread effect on your ability to do business. A well designed wiring system reduces the risk of damaged electronics and equipment, loss of power, and most importantly of all, fires.
Good electrical wiring is especially important in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area, where the wiring must be able to handle lighting in use all winter and the demands of air conditioning throughout the summer.
If the wiring in your building is more than 40 years old, chances are it won’t be able to meet your needs safely and efficiently, especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained.
Your electrical wiring could be unsafe if you notice:
- Your lights flicker or dim frequently, particularly when a large appliance such as a refrigerator or A/C kicks on.
- Equipment and appliances run slowly or can’t reach full power.
- Breakers trip or fuses blow repeatedly.
- You need extension cords to get power to all your equipment.
- Your switch plates and outlets feel warm.
- You feel a tingling when you touch a metal appliance. This means the appliance isn’t properly grounded and could cause electrocution.
- Outlets are brown or melted.
- Outlets spark or warm up when you plug something in.
- Parts of the insulation around your wiring has melted.
- You notice a burning or hot plastic smell in a certain room.
Some issues don’t pose an immediate threat, but should still be corrected to ensure the safety of your building’s occupants. Two-pronged, ungrounded outlets should ideally be replaced with three-pronged grounded outlets. If your kitchen, bathrooms, and other rooms with high moisture levels don’t have GFCI outlets, these should be installed. GFCI outlets have a “test” and “reset” button in the middle between the sockets. They can detect abnormal current flow, and prevent shorts and resulting electrical fires.
Aluminum wiring, popular during the late 1960s and into the 1970s, is another potential safety threat. This wiring should either be upgraded with new connectors or replaced entirely.
Undersized Electrical Panels
Older electrical wiring systems aren’t always unsafe, but they might still be unable to supply all the electricity you need to run your business. Signs such as dimming lights, frequently tripping breakers, and the need for extension cords all point to an electrical service that’s too small for your needs.
In the past, a small office could get by just fine with a 60 amp electrical panel. Now with the increased demand for electricity, most small commercial buildings need at least a 200 amp service, and larger buildings might need a 400 amp, 600 amp or even larger panel. The more electronics or machinery you use, the larger the electrical service you’ll need.
Having sufficient power for all your equipment isn’t just a matter of convenience. Electronics and electrical equipment, such as motors, can suffer damage when they don’t receive the voltage they’re designed for.
Your wiring must also be able to handle the increased load. A wire that isn’t large enough for the amount of current flowing through will heat up and can eventually start a fire in your building.
An electrical wiring upgrade is also worth considering when you’re planning to install a new major appliance or bring in new machinery.
An experienced electrician can calculate the load you’ll be placing on your electrical panel and recommend the size of electrical service that will best meet your needs.