How to Troubleshoot Obscure Electrical Problems in Industrial Buildings

How to Troubleshoot Obscure Electrical Problems in Industrial Buildings


Electrical problems in industrial buildings can be challenging to diagnose and repair due to the complexity of the electrical systems and equipment involved. However, with some basic troubleshooting techniques and an understanding of common issues, even obscure electrical problems can often be identified and resolved. In this comprehensive guide, I will share my insights and experience for troubleshooting some of the most difficult electrical faults in industrial facilities.

As an electrician who has worked in industrial maintenance for over 10 years, I have learned there are some key steps to take when troubleshooting any electrical problem:

Safety First

When dealing with industrial electrical systems, safety should always be the top priority. Make sure to:

Rushing into an electrical problem without first taking safety precautions can easily lead to electrocution or arc flash.

Start with Visual Inspection

My first step is always a thorough visual inspection of the electrical equipment and wiring. Look for:

Pay close attention around any area where the problem was reported.

Check Power Supply

Many electrical faults stem from power supply issues:

Isolate the Circuit

Once I've narrowed down where the issue is occurring, I isolate that part of the circuit by opening disconnects, pulling fuses, etc. That way I can focus my troubleshooting on just the problem area.

Tip: Use the one-half rule to systematically isolate the issue. Turn off half the breakers/disconnects feeding the circuit. If problem persists, issue is in the powered half. Keep splitting the circuit in half until problem circuit is isolated.

Check Wiring and Connections

With the problem circuit isolated, I start methodically checking:

Thoroughly inspecting the wiring and connections along the entire circuit can reveal elusive faults.

Inspect and Test Components

The problem may also be within a component in the circuit such as a contactor, starter, relay, etc. I systematically check each component:

Thorough inspection and testing of all components in the circuit may identify the problem source.

Advanced Diagnostics

For very obscure or intermittent problems, I utilize advanced diagnostic tools for in-depth electrical troubleshooting:

While these tools require proper training, they can pinpoint obscure electrical faults that evade basic troubleshooting.

Be Methodical and Document Everything

The key to solving obscure electrical problems is being systematic and meticulous in your troubleshooting approach. Document all testing results and inspected components. Keep track of what's been checked already. Follow up on any anomaly.

Obscure faults often end up being quite simple - just overlooked. Follow the basic troubleshooting steps and use advanced diagnostics when needed. With patience and diligence, even the most evasive electrical gremlin can eventually be found.


Diagnosing obscure electrical issues in industrial facilities requires an understanding of complex electrical systems, patience, and methodical troubleshooting techniques. By following safety procedures, visually inspecting the system, isolating the problem circuit, thoroughly checking all wiring and components, and utilizing advanced diagnostic tools, even the most difficult electrical faults can be uncovered. Being meticulous, documenting your findings, and following up on any anomalies are also essential when dealing with evasive electrical problems. With diligence and rigorous troubleshooting methods, successful resolution of even the most obscure electrical issue is usually within reach.