How to Troubleshoot Unusual Electrical Wiring Issues in Older Commercial Buildings


Electrical systems in older commercial buildings can develop unusual wiring issues over time due to the aging of materials, outdated wiring methods, lack of proper maintenance, and changes in usage patterns. As a building owner or facilities manager, it's important to understand common electrical problems in older buildings in order to troubleshoot issues efficiently and prevent more significant failures down the road. In this comprehensive guide, I will cover the typical causes of unusual wiring issues in older commercial buildings and provide actionable tips for troubleshooting and resolving them.

Common Electrical Issues in Older Commercial Buildings

Faulty or Outdated Wiring

Many older buildings still contain old wiring that was installed decades ago using inferior materials or methods that are now outdated. Common problems include:

Lighting Problems

Lighting circuits in older buildings often develop issues like:

Faulty Switchgear and Breaker Panels

Switchgear and breaker panels distribute and control power in a building. Age and neglect can lead to:

Grounding and Bonding Issues

A sound grounding system is essential for safety and protecting equipment. Some common grounding issues include:

Troubleshooting Unusual Electrical Issues

When unusual electrical issues crop up, there are systematic steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem:

1. Talk to Tenants

Speaking directly with tenants experiencing electrical problems can provide important clues. Ask about:

2. Visual Inspection of Electrical System

Walk through the building and do a visual check of the electrical system, looking for:

Pay special attention to problem areas reported by tenants.

3. Check Distribution Equipment

Inspect the breaker panel, fuses and metering equipment:

4. Evaluate Grounding and Bonding

Use a multimeter to check for:

5. Check Loads and Circuits

Evaluate circuit loads and wiring:

Preventative Maintenance

Along with troubleshooting specific issues, building owners should establish preventative maintenance practices to identify and correct problems before they escalate. Key electrical preventive maintenance steps include:

When to Call An Electrician

Some electrical problems can indicate potentially hazardous conditions and should be addressed by a certified electrician or electrical contractor. Call an electrician immediately if you experience:

Aging electrical systems require vigilance to maintain safety and reliability. Following proactive troubleshooting and maintenance practices can help identify and resolve unusual wiring issues in older commercial buildings.