How to Test and Maintain Your Commercial Building’s Electrical System

How to Test and Maintain Your Commercial Building's Electrical System


Having a robust, properly functioning electrical system is critical for any commercial building. As the building owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your electrical system is regularly tested and maintained to avoid safety issues, code violations, and costly repairs down the road. In this article, I will provide a comprehensive guide on how I test and maintain my commercial building's electrical system.

Testing the Electrical System

Testing the electrical system regularly is the best way to identify potential problems before they lead to equipment failure or safety hazards. Here are some important electrical system tests I perform and how often I do them:

Monthly Visual Inspections

I perform a visual inspection of all electrical panels, wiring, outlets, switches, and fixtures on a monthly basis. I look for:

Annual Thermographic Inspections

I hire an electrical contractor annually to perform thermographic inspections using an infrared camera. This allows them to identify "hot spots" that indicate electrical faults before they become major issues. They inspect all panels, disconnects, motors, and key junction points.

5-Year Electrical Load Study

Every 5 years, I have an electrical engineer perform a thorough electrical load study on my building. This verifies that my electrical system can still handle the current load as equipment needs change over time. It also identifies any upgrades needed.

Testing Emergency Lighting

I test emergency and exit lighting monthly by turning off main power and verifying they switch over to battery backup. I also have them professionally tested annually.

Testing GFCIs

I test all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets monthly by pressing the "Test" and "Reset" buttons to ensure proper function.

Maintaining the Electrical System

In addition to testing, proper maintenance is key to electrical safety and reliability. Here are key maintenance tasks I perform:

Cleaning Electrical Equipment

I ensure all panels, disconnects, and other electrical equipment are kept clean, dry, and free of dust buildup which can lead to overheating.

Tightening Connections

I periodically check and tighten wiring connections inside panels as they can loosen over time, especially on heavy load circuits.

Replacing Old Equipment

As electrical equipment ages, I replace breakers, panels, disconnects, and wiring that are outdated, damaged, or overloaded.

Adding Arc Flash Labels

I have arc flash labels professionally installed on each panel to warn electricians of potential arc blast hazards.

Insulating Exposed Wires

I repair any damaged wire insulation and insulate any exposed wiring. Exposed wires can short out and cause fires.

Upgrading Overloaded Circuits

When adding new equipment, I calculate total loads and upgrade wiring size as needed to handle additional ampacity.

Cleaning Light Fixtures

I clean lighting fixtures regularly to maximize light output. I also replace burned out bulbs and ballasts promptly.

Hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor

Some electrical tests and repairs require a licensed electrician. I have my regular electrical contractor provide services such as:

Hiring a qualified electrician ensures the work is done properly and safely.

Maintaining Records

I keep maintenance logs and test records to document all electrical work performed in the building. This provides me with legal documentation and identifies trends for repairs needed.


By regularly testing and maintaining my building's electrical system, I can prevent failures, avoid hazards, and ensure my system complies with code requirements. Performing visual inspections, electrical testing, preventive maintenance, and hiring licensed contractors are all critical parts of keeping my commercial building's electrical system in excellent working order. A proper electrical preventive maintenance program provides safety, reliability, and peace of mind.