How to Troubleshoot Unusual Electrical Problems in Older Commercial Buildings

As the owner or manager of an older commercial building, I sometimes encounter unusual electrical issues that require creative troubleshooting. With aging wiring and outdated electrical systems, problems can arise that don't fit the typical diagnosis. In these cases, I need to take a methodical approach to track down the source of the problem.

Common Causes of Unusual Electrical Issues

Some of the most common culprits behind strange electrical gremlins include:

Outdated Wiring

Faulty Grounding

Equipment Issues

External Factors

When to Suspect an Unusual Electrical Issue

Unusual electrical issues exhibit symptoms that set them apart from textbook wiring problems. Watch for these red flags:

If I observe any weird electrical behaviors like these, it's time to start diagnosing. The issue likely stems from an arcane problem, not a simple wiring fault.

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting Process

When faced with a funky electrical gremlin, I take a systematic approach to avoid getting lost chasing theories down rabbit holes. Here is my general troubleshooting process:

1. Define the Exact Symptoms

Thoroughly documenting symptoms reveals clues about the problem's nature. I take detailed notes to reference.

2. Check the Obvious Stuff First

Sometimes the problem stems from simple oversights, not exotic electrical defects. I eliminate basic issues first.

3. Consider Environmental Factors

External influences can cause electrical havoc, especially with old wiring. I examine any recent incidents that align timeframe-wise.

4. Test Voltages and Loads Methodically

By collecting hard voltage and load data, I can spot abnormal patterns that indicate a fault location. I take detailed notes on measurements.

5. Isolate the Problem Area

Localizing the problem area prevents chasing theories all over the building. I can focus troubleshooting on one circuit or region.

6. Consider Calling an Electrical Contractor

Some evasive issues may require advanced diagnostic expertise. If I hit a dead end, I call in a commercial electrical contractor for assistance. Their specialized tools and knowledge can discover hidden defects. I provide them with documentation of my troubleshooting steps.

With patience and systematic testing, I can solve most bizarre electrical issues. But I know when to seek assistance from a professional electrician. Teaming up expedites resolving risks or outages.

Case Study: Tracing Flickering Lights to a Faulty Transformer

I once confronted random office lights that would slightly dim and then return to normal brightness. The brief flickering was annoying but not debilitating. The problem occurred sporadically with no apparent cause. Here were the steps I took to resolve it:

By methodically localizing the issue before examining equipment, I avoided false leads. I saved time and got power restored normally.

Troubleshooting unusual electrical defects takes patience and critical thinking. But with a systematic approach, even evasive issues can be solved. Proper documentation helps track clues during the diagnosis. And don't hesitate to enlist a professional electrician when needed - fixing risks quickly is paramount. With persistence and the right tools, even the strangest electrical gremlins can be bested.