Electrical Fault Finding
Fault finding is where Electricians earn their money. At times, it can be challenging and often stressful when there is production pressure. Downtime is not only expensive but can also taint your business’s reputation by disappointing valued customers. All Vested Utility electricians are experienced with industrial fault finding which makes commercial and residential fault finding a walk in the park.
The beauty with electrical faults is their varying nature, most electricians will tell you “you won’t see the same fault twice“. Fault finding is like being a detective; you’re analysing clues and putting the pieces of the puzzle together to find the cause and charge the guilty culprit.
Sometimes you get lucky and it’s an obvious visual fault, other times can be a lot more challenging especially when the fault is intermittent.
Common types of faults include:
Electricity is always trying to get back to its source of supply, if you provide it with a path (a short) it will take that path. A short circuit can be to earth, neutral or between phases. In most cases, a short circuit will be visually obvious. A short circuit will trip circuit protection very fast and draw excessive amounts of current in the process. In a domestic scenario, the circuit breaker or RCD will make a “pop” as you try and reset it.
An open circuit is when a circuit is incomplete. In an open circuit scenario, any electrical equipment on that circuit will appear to not work. An open circuit can be particularly hazardous as there is potentially exposed conductors somewhere. In a domestic scenario, all your circuit breakers and RCDs might be switched on but a particular power point may not work.
Incorrect polarity doesn’t happen by itself, it’s the result of someone wiring something up wrong. It basically means the wires are in the wrong place. In a domestic scenario, you might find that when you plug appliances into a particular power point that it goes backwards. This is a typical active-neutral transposition. An earth-neutral transposition can be extremely dangerous, it has the potential to make all your water pipes and taps live.
You might hear an Electrician say that a circuit is “down to earth”. This doesn’t mean the circuit is humble and does yoga, it means the insulation has broken down to an unacceptable level. Insulation is the barrier between live parts and earth (or people) when it breaks down, it can create a short circuit. In a domestic scenario, you might have the same symptoms as a short circuit or if the insulation has a small amount of integrity, the RCD or circuit breaker might trip intermittently, especially in wet weather.
How can you save money?
Fault finding can sometimes be timely which means expensive, there are a few things you can do to save your Electrician time and keep costs down.
- Have a clear timeline of events leading to the fault.
- Only give your Electrician facts, don’t assume things.
- If the fault is intermittent, keep a log of conditions when the fault occurs (time of day, weather, appliances in use)
- If you have a Refrigeration Tech, Plumber or even another Electrician do some work, record details of what they have done. Keep a written record of this.
The above steps can save you money by leading your Electrician to the fault quickly as sometimes the clues are not obvious.
If you have any questions, please contact Vested Utility or leave a message in the comments box below