Common electrical problems for commercial buildings in summer
The summertime might feel like a time of year when electrical problems in commercial buildings should be at their minimum – after all, there’s less heavy rain that can get into the wiring and cause havoc.
But that doesn’t mean it’s plain sailing all the way through to autumn. In fact, summer can put extra strain on commercial buildings’ electrical systems, creating some common problems we see year after year.
1. Air Conditioning
It’s one of the biggest headaches for commercial building electrical problems, but air conditioning has become an essential way to keep employees comfortable in the peak of summer.
Malfunctioning air conditioning can be the cause of your mains circuit breaker tripping. So, if your power keeps shutting off, get your air conditioner serviced – and be glad it hasn’t caused an electrical fire yet.
Air conditioners, computer workstations, server stacks and data rooms can all generate massive amounts of heat, which is bad news when the ambient air temperature is already high.
Make sure you get your equipment’s cooling systems checked – including the ducts and vents that carry hot air from your air conditioning to the exterior of your building – as overheating equipment can be just as much of a problem as faulty electrical wiring.
3. PAT and Fixed Wire Testing
As you put more strain on your commercial building’s electrical system, you can come across wiring problems and faulty appliances that weren’t apparent during the winter months. That might be because some appliances are used more in summer, but it can also just be general wear and tear that could happen at any time of year.
Regular PAT and fixed wire testing can check your portable appliances and your mains wiring loop to identify any power quality problems – variations in the electricity supply that can lead to power surges and brownouts, and risk damaging the circuitry inside sensitive equipment like computers and servers.
4. Extension Cords
Employees plugging in individual desk fans can soon use up the available electrical sockets, but it doesn’t take many multiway trailing sockets to overload a circuit. If your staff have been plugging in extension cords to power their desk fans, this might be why you’re having electrical problems.
Again, make sure your air conditioning, natural ventilation and solar shielding are all working well, to reduce the reliance on fans at individual workstations. You might also want to invest in USB desk fans that can plug into employees’ computers, rather than using up a mains socket.
5. Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are not as common in the UK as in some other countries, but if you have them in your premises, it’s worth checking the wiring regularly to keep them in good working order.
You may also need to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans for summer. In hot weather, you need to feel a downward breeze from your fans for them to cool you down. On cold days, reversing the fan can actually help to circulate warm air from close to the ceiling, sending it around the room to raise the temperature by a few degrees.
Most modern ceiling fans have a simple switch to change their direction, but older models may depend on the polarity of their wiring – so if your fan is stuck spinning in the wrong direction for summer, call a commercial electrician to take a look.