How to Troubleshoot Uncommon Electrical Wiring Issues in Older Commercial Buildings

As an electrician working on older commercial buildings, I often come across uncommon electrical wiring issues that require some troubleshooting to resolve. In this article, I'll provide an in-depth guide on how to troubleshoot some of the more unusual electrical problems you may encounter in aging commercial structures.

Identifying Signs of Uncommon Wiring Issues

The first step is being able to recognize when an electrical problem is beyond the norm. Here are some telltale signs of uncommon wiring issues:

If I come across electrical problems with these characteristics, it's a clue that there may be uncommon wiring issues at play requiring further diagnosis.

Consulting Electrical Schematics

After recognizing signs of unusual electrical problems, the next step is to review the building's electrical schematics (if available). This will provide valuable insight into how the electrical system was originally designed and any changes made over time.

Some key things I look for in the schematics include:

Reviewing the schematics helps me identify problem areas, understand the wiring sequence, and determine if unfamiliar wiring methods were used originally. This information is extremely useful when troubleshooting uncommon electrical issues.

Testing and Evaluating Circuits

Once I have background knowledge from the schematics, my next step is hands-on circuit testing and evaluation. Here are some of the techniques I use:

Meticulously examining all parts of the wiring system helps me pinpoint any deficiencies or faults that could be the root of uncommon electrical problems.

Considering Environmental Factors

The environment itself can also contribute to electrical wiring issues in older buildings. Here are some external factors I consider:

Being cognizant of these environmental factors helps me understand what may have degraded the electrical system over decades of operation and lead to uncommon wiring situations.

Calling In Backup Resources

For the most complex uncommon wiring cases, I rely on help from additional resources:

Leaning on the expertise and knowledge of professionals in other fields is extremely helpful when I'm stumped by a tricky, uncommon electrical wiring defect. A collaborative effort is sometimes necessary.


As you can see, troubleshooting unusual electrical issues in aging commercial buildings requires some specialized sleuthing skills. Being able to recognize potential problems, thoroughly test circuits, research a building's wiring history, consider environmental factors, and call in backup when necessary are all essential to resolving uncommon electrical hazards. With the right approach, even the most perplexing wiring mysteries can be solved. Let me know if you need any help diagnosing your building's electrical gremlins!