May 10, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. II No. 9

In the Land of Charles

Spring Maintenance

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Outdoor Lighting

NEC at the Facility

The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.404(c)

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz


About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

  • Working with management and supervision
  • National Electrical Code® on the production floor
  • Safety procedures and programs
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
  • Managing motors and generators
  • Trends in training and education
  • Managing energy use

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    The designations "National Electrical Code” and “NEC” refer to the National Electrical Code®, which is a registered trademark of the National Fire Protection Association.


    Project Watch
    In the Land of Charles
    The transportation and distribution industries are driving investment in the Tar Heel and Palmetto states. Investment in the industrial manufacturing industry in North and South Carolina has been on the rise for the last five years, according to marketing information resources company Industrial Information Resources (IIR). IIR is tracking almost 140 active capital and maintenance projects in the states worth close to $4 billion. A total of 72% of future spending activity in these two states resides in the port industry, warehousing and distribution industry, and the light and commuter rail industry.

    Key projects in North Carolina include a proposed $600 million international port, a $300 million Mid-Atlantic parcel sorting hub, and a $212 million Southeast corridor light rail project. Key projects in South Carolina include a $600 million naval yard container terminal and a $450 marine container terminal.

    AutomationDirect's new
    C-more touch panel is available in 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- or 15-inch versions. Equipped with an analog touch screen that eliminates defined touch cell boundaries, C-more's configuration software allows objects to be placed, scaled and overlapped without limitation. Advanced capabilities include built-in e-mail client, FTP and web servers.

    Spring Maintenance
    Time-based maintenance doesn't account for real conditions. This makes conditioned-based maintenance the darling of maintenance consultants. But neither of these methods accounts for seasonality. This particular time of year has its own issues.

    HVAC, discussed in two previous issues, is just one area to address as summer heat approaches. April showers may bring May flowers, but they bring less desirable things as well. This time of year, you should also check for:

    • Rodents. Inspect equipment rooms for the telltale signs of rodents: droppings, bits of grass or paper, and scratches. If found, combat the problem by sealing up any holes or passageways and treating the area with an approved repellant.
    • Birds. Returning from winter, birds are looking for places to build nests. High ceiling areas, outbuildings, service drops, service transformers, and lighting fixtures (especially security lights) are some of the more attractive locations. Remove any inactive nesting materials to combat the problem.
    • Insects. If you have grounds to maintain, you know to remove standing water and to apply insecticides about now. But the electrical system may also need preventive insect care. Insects entering their breeding season may build nests in or near electrical enclosures. They like the warmth in these spaces. Special safety note: If you have a fire pump, check every enclosure associated with it. Remove all nests and treat areas appropriately.
    • Fungi. That black mottling on light fixtures, in HVAC equipment, and on enclosure walls is probably fungi. Also check electrical equipment associated with process cooling water and similar systems. If these levels are abundant, then you may want to try and permanently adjust the humidity levels in these areas.
    • Vegetation. You know to keep vegetation away from transformers and gas supplies. But other equipment also needs to be vegetation-free. Walk around the grounds and note which outdoor equipment needs defoliation. Then, remove all vegetation at the same time. You may need an arborist to prune or remove trees.

    Beware - Arc
    Flash Hazard

    Pin and sleeve plugs & receptacles can be dangerous if operated under load. To prevent accidents install Decontactor Series switch rated plugs and receptacles. They are a UL rated plug, receptacle and disconnect switch in one device. 100 kA short circuit ratings protect users in fault conditions. Inquire about our free trial program.
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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    This morning, you received a complaint from an employee who said she could hardly see when leaving the building last night. An electrician covered the photocells, and the lights came on. If you can see that light even in the daytime, why is she having problems at night?

    The answer to this question appears at the end of this newsletter.

    Outdoor Lighting
    Following harsh winter weather and spring rains, you may find it's time to repair that lighted flagpole and some security lights. If so, follow these tips:

    • If the turf is wet and it's the only access to the work, create a temporary walkway with boards (preferably plywood sheets). Why? Foot traffic damages wet turf by compressing the air out of it. Fixing lights to shine on a muddy scar in the lawn isn't going to score you any points with your boss.
    • Test each device for power, before working on it. Why? As a facility ages, the power scheme in a given area may defy logic because of equipment additions that weren't properly engineered and/or documented. Don't assume power is off -- use test equipment to verify.
    • Conduct insulation resistance tests on all direct-buried cables as you work on a given system. Why? This is an ideal time to check for cable leakage because the soil is moist.
    • If replacing fixtures or lamps, upgrade to higher efficiency products. Why? International demand is driving energy costs up. Replacing old lighting equipment without improving energy efficiency is not even penny-wise. These days, it's simply foolish.
    • For work on the building exterior, allow fiberglass ladders only. Why? Aluminum ladders conduct; fiberglass ones don't. Wiring damage or error could energize the building façade.

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    They're packed with features and like nothing you've ever seen before. When we began designing the line, we certainly started at the bottom and worked our way up. The innovative TightSight™ display gives you a level of testing freedom and safety beyond any test tool on the market. In tight, dark or bright locations, it's invaluable. Other features like a high voltage indicator will ensure that you've never felt safer. Visit for a preview of the 600A and 1000A clamp meters from IDEAL.

    NEC at the Facility
    Electrical exams emphasize Art. 240. This should not be surprising, as Art. 240 addresses overcurrent protection. Unfortunately, this is one of the more complex areas of the NEC, and misapplication can result in disaster.

    Here's a common point of confusion. Calculations seldom produce an ampacity that exactly matches a standard overcurrent protection device. For devices rated 800A or less, you can use the next size up if you meet the conditions of 240.4(B). For devices rated over 800A, the ampacity of the conductors must exceed the rating of the overcurrent device [240.4(C)].

    Understanding these concepts from Part I will help you prevent a meltdown:

    • Only qualified persons should monitor and service your electrical system. The word "qualified" has a specific meaning. In many facilities, this fact goes unheeded. When is the last time your MRO managers reviewed system maintenance requirements against staff training and certification [240.2(1)]?
    • Ensure you adequately monitor and maintain your system. If you haven't hired a certified testing firm to review your electrical testing program, how do you know the program is adequate [240.2(1)]?
    • Certain equipment has specific overcurrent protection requirements that amend Article 240 requirements [240.3]. Confusion and misapplication are common, especially in regard to motors (Article 430). Apply Article 240 except where the specific equipment Article differs.
    Conductor overload protection isn't required in all cases [240.4(A)]. For an example, review the requirements for fire pumps [695.4].

    The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.404(c)
    This slice of OSHA requirements addresses outside conductors and lamps. For conductors, it provides specific clearances (so does the NEC). If you haven't reviewed your facility's conductor clearances -- especially over sidewalks and vehicular traffic areas -- make a note to do so.

    Locate your lighting fixtures below live conductors, transformers, and other electric equipment -- unless you can lockout and tagout the disconnecting means or you have adequate clearances and safeguards for relamping operations. The twist is in the word "adequate." If you are looking for what you can "get by with," then "adequate" has one meaning. If you are looking for how to ensure the installation is safe, then it has another.

    Carhartt's Flame-Resistant Twill Shirt
    Carhartt's flame-resistant twill shirts are available in khaki, medium blue and dark navy. This shirt has an ATPV of 8.2 and meets hazard risk category two. Premium construction offers double-stitched shoulders, and a shaped shirt tail for increased mobility. All Carhartt FR can be home or industrial laundered and is guaranteed to be flame-resistant for the life of the garment.

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    The lights shine, but do they put enough light where you need it? Three possible problems are:
    1. The lamps are dirty with winter grime. The fix is obvious.
    2. The lamps are nearing the end of their life, and their output has dropped below an acceptable level. Do a mass replacement of the lamps, and you efficiently solve this problem. Schedule lamp replacement per manufacturer's guidelines, and you prevent a recurrence.
    3. The fixtures are misaligned. Birds, squirrels, and other animals can re-aim these lights. So can snow, ice, wind, and gravity. Check the alignment at night.

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    Copyright 2006, Prism Business Media. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, re-disseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Prism Business Media.