How to Troubleshoot Unusual Electrical Issues in Older Commercial Buildings

How to Troubleshoot Unusual Electrical Issues in Older Commercial Buildings

Diagnosing and resolving unusual electrical issues in older commercial buildings can be challenging. As electrical systems age and building uses change over time, problems can arise that may not follow textbook explanations. Successfully troubleshooting these types of issues requires patience, critical thinking, and a willingness to consider all possibilities. Here is an in-depth guide on how to approach and resolve the trickiest electrical problems in vintage commercial spaces.

Gather Background Information

When an unusual electrical issue crops up, your first step should be gathering as much relevant background information as possible. This can help you narrow down potential causes and identify where to focus your investigation. Useful information to compile includes:

Thoroughly Investigate On-Site Conditions

After compiling relevant background, your next step is to thoroughly investigate on-site conditions. Look at all electrical infrastructure in the area of reported issues, observe behaviors, and test components. Useful diagnostics include:

Consider Conditions That May Contribute to Electrical Problems

Equipped with thorough background information and on-site observations, you can now start considering which factors may be contributing to the unusual electrical issues plaguing the building. Contemplate these potential conditions:

Use Metering and Testing Instruments for Further Diagnosis

For deeper diagnosis, specialized metering and testing instruments are invaluable for pinpointing culprit issues. Use these advanced tools for detailed electrical assessments:

Be Methodical When Multiple Issues Are Occurring

It is not uncommon in older buildings for multiple electrical gremlins to occur simultaneously across different equipment and circuits. This can make issues seem randomly intermittent. In these scenarios, be methodical by troubleshooting one problem at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Prioritize safety-critical failures first.

Consider Rewiring or Electrical Panel Upgrade

For problematic electrical systems plagued by frequent issues, the best solution may ultimately be a complete rewiring or upgrade of the electrical panel and circuit breakers. While disruptive and costly in the short-term, replacement with modern wiring and integrated safety features can resolve chronic electrical headaches. Discuss options with ownership based on the age of existing systems and frequency of recently documented problems.

In summary, unusual electrical issues in aging commercial buildings can certainly present diagnostic challenges. But with smart gathering of background data, thorough on-site testing, use of advanced metering tools, and methodical problem-by-problem troubleshooting, even the trickiest electrical gremlins plaguing a vintage building can be effectively solved.