There are tons of DIY instructional manuals, videos, and articles with helpful tips meant to make it easy to keep your commercial property’s electrical system in good working order. Though you also need to consider that attempting do-it-yourself electrical maintenance can lead to a plethora of liability issues.
Attempting to handle many common electrical repairs yourself is usually not a good idea. Even if you or members of your custodial staff are particularly handy and you have a smattering of electrical tools at your disposal, chances are still good that your maintenance measures might not be up to the current codes.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of commercial insurance policies have fine print language that prohibits electrical self-repairs or repairs that aren’t made by a licensed professional. If you do try to fix the problem yourself and a short-circuit or electrical fire, occurs, your insurance company might not cover the repair. You could also be left liable for any personal injuries that occur to others as a result of a shock or fire.
Knowing what is within the bounds of what you can or could consider doing yourself, and what should be left to a professional electrician can be challenging for even the most experienced property manager. So, we decided to break down a list of some of the most common electrical problems that can occur in a building and how to tell when you need to call in an electrician.
Burned Out Light Bulbs
Burned-out lightbulbs are quite possibly the most common of all minor electrical problems that you’ll find in commercial properties and even residential homes. Of course, professional offices need to always have functioning light bulbs.
If it’s just a case of replacing a light bulb that’s gone past its expected lifespan, the problem is simple and doesn’t require an electrician’s hands. It’s when the lightbulb burns out unexpectedly or displays signs of another problem that you need to leave it to the professionals.
This might include things like:
- A light fixture that buzzes
- A light fixture that frequently burns out bulbs early
- A recent roof or other water leaks in the area
- The smell of burning near the light fixture
- A light fixture that dims
If you’ve noticed any of these signs in the light bulb or the light fixture, it’s best to leave it to a licensed electrician. They can take the necessary safety precautions to diagnose and repair the underlying problem.
Lights That Flicker or Dim
If your office building has lights that are flickering and dimming, it can be more than just bad for business! Sometimes this sort of problem can be remedied by simply replacing the bulbs. Though most of the time bulb replacement on its own isn’t sufficient, as flicking and dimming is often a sign of a more serious problem.
This can include things like short circuits, electrical arcing, damaged wires, or even problems at the circuit panel itself. If you change a lightbulb and the dimming or flickering persists, it’s best to call a professional electrician right away.
Frequently Tripping Breakers
Circuit breakers and fuses were designed to trip or burn out anytime the power demand on the circuit exceeds safe levels. If you have one or more circuit breakers that are constantly tripping, it usually means that the circuit is using too much energy, and could be in danger of overloading.
Simply flipping the breaker or replacing the fuse and Ignoring this problem could lead to a very dangerous electrical fire. If you reduce the load on the circuit and the breaker keeps tripping, it’s likely a sign of an even more serious problem that requires professional diagnosis and repair.
Dead Electrical Outlets
Electrical outlets are meant to last a long time. Though when one goes dead, and it’s not simply because a breaker tripped, it could be a sign that there is a poor circuit connection. Left unchecked this could lead to arching and even excessive heat buildup.
It’s best to turn the circuit off completely at the panel and call an electrician. Hopefully, it’s just that the outlet needs to be replaced and rewired. Though it’s best not to risk it, and potentially suffer an electrical fire.
Unprotected or Exposed Wiring
Every office and professional space in a commercial proper needs to have secure and protected wiring to avoid issues with the power supply. There are even specific building regulations that state where and how the wiring should be placed to protect them from the elements and human tampering.
If you notice any exposed or unprotected wiring in your commercial property, you need to block the area off to protect human contact. Then call a licensed electrician to have the issue repaired and restored to all applicable codes.
Unsecure Wiring & Loose Connections
Many building codes require wires to be installed and maintained to specific metrics. Any time that wires are stapled too tightly it can cause damage to the wire itself. This can be a major liability issue if there is an electrical fire.
At the same time, any loose connections left over by past renovations or repairs in the building, can lead to overheating and dangerous arcing. This in turn can lead to injuries and start a fire. A licensed electrician needs to be brought in to create safe and tight electrical connections that will not get bent, damaged, or twisted.
Too Few Outlets
Older office buildings and commercial properties were built during an era when businesses didn’t rely on so many electrical devices. As time has gone by, electrical demand continues to grow. This prompts some older office spaces to improvise with extension cords and surge protectors with multiple plugs to let them power all their essential electrical devices.
Unfortunately, this creates a very high risk of damaging the older wiring as well as overheating a circuit which can lead to an electrical fire. Rather than adding power strips with reckless abandon, you should call in a professional electrician to either add more outlets or expand the available number of circuits in your professional space.