Schneider Electric suggests electrical equipment precautions for hurricanes
By Anthony Capkun
August 27, 2012 – In light of Hurricane Isaac bearing down on the United States, Schneider Electric is urging businesses to take every precaution with electrical equipment, offering the recommendations to ensure employee safety and avoid costly damage both to physical equipment and the financial losses of a prolonged shutdown:
Wet electrical equipment
Electrical equipment that has been submerged or come into contact with water must be replaced, although there are exceptions to this rule for larger equipment that may be able to be reconditioned by trained factory service personnel. Equipment that may be reconditioned includes:
• Switchboard enclosures and certain bus structures
• Low-voltage power circuit breakers
• Medium-voltage circuit breakers
• Low-voltage bolted-pressure switches
• Medium-voltage switches
• Motor control centre enclosures and bus structure
• Panelboard and load centre enclosures
• Liquid-filled power transformers
• Cast-resin transformers
• Busway: epoxy coated bars
Attempting to dry out the equipment (in many cases) leaves portions of the current-carrying parts with damp or wet surfaces. These surfaces may be in contact with insulators or other materials that prevent them from being properly dried out and cleaned of debris.
Residual debris or wet surfaces may result in a loss of dielectric spacing within the equipment, and could present a hazard upon re-energization.
Equipment that must be replaced in its entirety includes:
• Miniature and moulded case circuit breakers
• Moulded case switches
• Multi-metering equipment
• Safety switches (AC and DC)
• Load centres or panelboard interiors
• Dry-type transformers
• Busway: mylar wrapped bars
• Solid-state components
• Programmable logic controllers
• Electromechanical relays, contactors, starters, push buttons, limit switches, and other input logic and output controls
• Solid-state motor starters
• Adjustable-speed drives
• Motor control centre components
Equipment with field replaceable interior components
Generally, this type of replacement is limited to a load centre or panelboard type of product where the entire assembly can be removed and replaced as a unit. In this case, there is a possibility that enclosures can be reused if they have not been subjected to physical damage, and if they have been properly cleaned of all debris and foreign materials.
Cleaning agents and abrasives
Do not apply cleaning agents, particularly petroleum-based cleaners, to the current-carrying portions of electrical equipment to remove foreign debris, residues and other substances. Some cleaning and lubricating compounds can cause deterioration of the non-metallic insulating or structural portions of the equipment. Do not use abrasives such as sandpaper or steel wool to clean current-carrying parts of the equipment. These materials may remove plating or other conductive surfaces from the parts, which could result in a hazard when the equipment is re-energized.
Non-submerged equipment in flooded areas
Equipment in this situation should be inspected carefully by a qualified person to determine whether moisture has entered the enclosure. When any signs of moisture or damage exist, the equipment should be replaced or repaired.
Schneider suggests the following additional resources:
• NEMA AB 4-2003, “Guidelines for Inspection and Preventive Maintenance of Molded Case Circuit Breakers Used in Commercial and Industrial Applications”.
• NEMA BU 1.1-2000, “General Instructions for Proper Handling, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Busway Rated 600 Volts or Less”.
• NEMA PB 1.1-2002, “General Instructions for Proper Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Panelboards Rated 600 Volts or Less”.
• NEMA PB 2.1-2002, “General Instructions for Proper Handling, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Deadfront Distribution Switchboards Rated 600 Volts or Less”.
• NEMA ICS 1.1-2003, “Industrial Control and Systems: Safety Guidelines for the Application, Installation, and Maintenance of Solid State Controls”.