How To Prevent an Electrical Fire

Overloaded Surge Protector
Overloaded Power Strip

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 5,300 fires were caused by some type of electrical malfunction. This number can dramatically drop by learning of ways to prevent electrical fires and keep everyone safe and sound. Obviously, the most important preventative step is to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly, and that you have them installed throughout your residence or business. In fact, 65% of home fire deaths result from residences with no working smoke detectors according to the CPSC. The following provides some guidelines to prevent electric fires from igniting in your residence or place of business.

One of the most important preventative steps to take is to check your wiring. Wiring has a lifespan of 30-40 years and even less than that if your building uses aluminum wiring. Some signs to look for that could indicate that your wiring is old or outdated is if your circuit breaker trips often, if your fuses frequently blow, or if you are utilizing too many extension cords or surge protectors throughout your home. If any of these factors are typical in your household, it is imperative that you call a professional to check the wiring to see if it needs to be replaced.

An arc fault is a leading cause of electrical fires. An arc fault results when there is a high-power discharge between two or more conductors, thus resulting in producing heat that can lead to a fire. These commonly result from a loose connection in an outlet. So, to take a preventative step, a good place to start is to check all your outlets at least once a year. An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (ACFI) is a device used to detect arc faults and is most definitely a great way to prevent electrical fires due to an arc fault.

Lastly, the following are some easy steps you can take to prevent an electrical fire from starting in your home or business.

  • Replace any cracked, damaged, or loose electrical cords.
  • Plug major or small appliances directly into the wall instead of an extension cord.
  • Keep any flammable material away from outlets, so they do not trigger a fire.
  • Replace any wall outlets that do not fit snugly into the wall.
  • Use power strips and surge protectors that are labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.

Please give us a call at 615-325-8001 if you would like to schedule a certified electrician from Schaffhouser Electric to inspect your home or business. We are here to protect you and your property from electrical fires and other electrical problems.

How Static Electricity Affects Business

Static Electricity

Static electricity is a type of electricity that you probably only associate with memories of school science experiments involving a balloon and hair raising. Or perhaps, you associate static electricity with the unexpected shock you sometimes get when you touch a metal object. You may be wondering what static electricity has to do with your business, and why you should care about this shock inducing energy. Well, static electricity can greatly affect your business in more ways than one.

In the drier seasons of the year, late fall and winter, static electricity is much more prevalent due to the lack of moisture in the air. This can be extremely dangerous if you work in a place where there is gasoline or another airborne flammable material in the air. In these situations, static electricity can ignite the airborne gas causing a potentially dangerous explosion.

Although most workplaces may not have flammable material in the air, the majority of workplaces do house electronics including computers and other office machinery that could be damage by static discharge. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is basically a miniature version of lightning and can be extremely destructive on the micro level of circuit boards. This happens when the energy of the shock travels through the circuitry of the electronics and destroys critical elements along the way. One could compare this event to an electric storm in teacup that causes catastrophic damage to your equipment. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent this “tiny storm” from destroying your electronics in your workplace:

• Keep humidity levels regulated
• Treat carpets to prevent static buildup or invest in static proof mats
• Use non-static forming sprays on electronics
• Refrain from using compressed air to clean circuit boards
• Avoid placing plastic or polystyrene or other synthetic materials near electronics because these materials commonly cause static discharge
• Eliminate charge from circuitry by requiring technicians to wear an ESD wrist strap when working on electronic equipment

Static charge can most definitely destroy electronic equipment, so it is crucial to take the above precautions seriously to prevent damage. These precautions are particularly important for larger electronic equipment, like a server where critical data is stored. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to static electricity and your electronic equipment.

Energy Management System for an Efficient and Sustainable Future

Energy Management Infographic

In today’s world, companies benefit from being mindful of their carbon footprint. It not only helps the environment, but it can also help you save money. An Energy Management System can be a solution to minimize your energy related expenses by minimizing unnecessary energy expenditure. Commonly referred to as EMS, this system allows you to monitor, analyze, and control every single energy point in your facility. By implementing an EMS, your ROI will be both short-term and long-term. The results will take effect right away and will be long lasting. You will also be highly competitive in the marketplace because of your attention to detail and reduced carbon footprint.

As the future of business is distinctly impacted by technology, it is smart to utilize the tools of the future to make sure you remain at the forefront of your industry. An EMS intertwines the very best aspects of sustainability with energy and money saving principles. Ultimately, an EMS benefits your bottom line while also enhancing your actual and perceived environmental consciousness.

Schaffhouser Electric can customize an EMS that tailors to the specific needs of you and your company. Prior to doing so, however, we will conduct an energy audit that identifies areas that are using a high amount of energy and areas that are wasting energy. The energy audit will clarify ways for you to reduce your energy use and therefore energy costs. Based on the results of your audit, we will then determine the right systems and strategies for you to best utilize your energy consumption.

The following equipment can be monitored and/or controlled by an EMS to maximize efficiency:

  • HVAC
  • Lighting
  • Signage
  • Subtenants
  • Generators
  • Refrigerators/Coolers
  • Water heater
  • Chain broiler
  • Irrigation
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Gas and water usage
  • Solar energy systems

Although we have already discussed some of the benefits of implementing an Energy Management System, we also want to highlight the idea that an EMS can even enhance your property’s value through utility sub-metering. This allows those who own properties and businesses to recoup utility costs through accurately measuring the tenant utility costs, which can be reported and invoiced to clients through an EMS. Additional benefits of an EMS include:

  • See immediate savings
  • Qualify for a federal tax deduction
  • Increase staff productivity and efficiency
  • Gain insight into how equipment is functioning
  • Avoid costly equipment repair
  • Integrate systems

For more information about energy management systems and how Schaffhouser Electric can help, call 615-325-8082.

Electrical Systems Survey Using Infrared Load Testing

Infrared Load Testing

Problems with emerging and existing electrical components aren’t always visible to the human eye, even if the individual that is conducting the testing is an expert in the field of electrical engineering or electric equipment. It is very important to make sure that electrical equipment stays functioning properly so that you avoid equipment failure, business interruptions and even fire. Problems with electrical components can occur in noticeable ways, but they can also occur in such subtle ways that even routine inspections would not notice them. This is where Infrared Load Testing comes into play and offers the peace of mind you and your business desire.

Infrared Load Testing makes sure that every part of your electrical equipment is highly functioning and in optimal working condition. If electronics fail, a lot could be at stake if you own a business or facility that utilizes electronic equipment.

Infrared testing is also known as an electrical systems survey. This process will enable us to find and address issues before they become unmanageable. If an issue arises that goes unnoticed, it could cost you and your company an astronomical amount of money to replace electrical equipment that is necessary for your business to function. Skipping an infrared load test could be an expensive decision if your electrical equipment begins to malfunction or develop problems that are not easy to notice.

Schaffhouser’s electrical systems survey is a great option and includes testing the following equipment:

  • Substations, transformers and feeder poles
  • Distribution panels and disconnects
  • Electrical power supplies
  • Main electrical incoming services, transformers and capacitor banks
  • Switchboards and disconnects
  • Motor Control Centers
  • Service electrical controls and transfer switches
  • Main I-Line electrical panels
  • Lighting and receptacle panels

It is important to know why you and your business should consider Infrared Load Testing. A survey scan of your electrical equipment serves many purposes:

  • Locate electrical systems problems
  • Reduce downtime and electrical equipment damage
  • Prevent catastrophic system failures
  • Allow engineers and facility managers to prioritize repairs
  • Avoid costly system shutdowns

Infrared Load Testing speeds up the inspection process of crucial issues and detects problems that would normally go unnoticed. As opposed to a traditional inspection, Infrared Load Testing is most likely to prevent serious issues and damage. Early detection of issues is the key to saving money and time. Call Schaffhouser Electric Company today to see how we can keep your equipment working in pristine condition!

Fire Protection – Effective Preventative Fire Measures

Fire Protection

Any time electricity is in action, the risk of fire arises. The United States Fire Administration reports that there are an estimated 28,600 electrical fires each year in the United States. Although any type of disaster can cause loss, a fire has the ability to immediately destroy everything in its wake. This is why it is important to learn about the proven ways to prevent fires and make sure that your company’s preventative maintenance plan is in place. An effective preventative maintenance plan should include several different measures to prepare for the reality of a fire occurring.

By following through with fire alarm systems, Infrared Load Testing, and an evacuation plan or system, your company will be equipped to combat the threat of unexpected flames. Since fire destruction can happen rapidly and suddenly, it is important to remain intentional about these preventative measures:

Fire Alarm Systems: A major part of a company’s successful fire prevention efforts should include a fire alarm system that is active and monitored. Schaffhouser Electric installs, inspects and maintains fire detection systems. We thoroughly check every part of the system—including the power supplies and devices themselves. Test smoke can be used during our inspection process to ensure that the functionality of your fire alarm system is in perfect condition. In addition to notifying you of fire, heat or smoke, a fire alarm system can also help extinguish the fire or act as an effective evacuation system.

Infrared Load Testing: Most electrical component issues aren’t always visible to the human eye. Some issues are obvious and hard to miss while others are seemingly hidden—even during intentional inspections. By the time certain “hidden” issues are noticeable, they have already caused extreme damage to equipment. The type of damage done can include equipment failure, business interruptions, and potentially even fire. Infrared Load Testing prevents these hidden issues before they cause irreversible damage. We recommend your company to have Infrared Load Testing done annually to check for faulty fuses, loose connections, overloaded circuits and other potential dangers.

Schaffhouser Electric is available to conduct annual inspections to ensure that your company is prepared. If you are looking to implement preventative fire measures or need us to advise you on the best approach for your business, call us today to see how we can keep your team safe and your businesses running in the most efficient way possible. Call 615-325-8082 or schedule an appointment with us by requesting an estimate or make an inquiry.