EC&M Tech Talk — Troubleshooting: Tips & Ideas

July 1, 2024
Randy Barnett addresses several tips for troubleshooting electrical equipment.

In this Tech Talk, Randy Barnett addresses several tips for troubleshooting electrical equipment and some ideas for increasing troubleshooting expertise.

Prints are the key to effective troubleshooting. Among the three types of diagrams discussed it is the electrical schematic (ladder or elementary) diagram that the electrical troubleshooter must master to find problems. Once the skill of probing the circuit is acquired, the electrical troubleshooter must make sure they understand the electrical system and processes they are troubleshooting.

Test equipment has advanced greatly and offers many different tools for helping to find problems. Above all, test equipment must be inspected before each use. Unsafe test equipment can produce catastrophic and deadly results. A typical troubleshooting process is walked through for testing fuses. This includes a demonstration of the safe work practices, PPE, and meter inspection.

Poor power quality is one of the most common problems in electrical distribution systems. The digital loads in our systems produce harmonic currents and distort the primary 60 Hertz sine wave. Sags and swells are the most common problems in distribution systems that can cause equipment to malfunction. Transients occur routinely and cause electronics to fail. Learning more about this topic should be of interest to all looking to find and solve some of the more difficult electrical troubleshooting problems. 

About the Author

Randy Barnett | CEA

Randy Barnett is an NFPA Certified Electrical Safety Professional, a long-time journeyman electrician, instructor and author with expertise in industrial electrical construction and maintenance. He is Electrical Codes & Safety Manager for NTT Training. Because of his ability to develop and deliver quality programs, Randy has trained more than 10,000 students in all 50 states, including Canada, Singapore, Afghanistan, Dubai, Trinidad, and Saudi Arabi. His articles appear in numerous trade publications and, his book on "Commercial and Industrial Wiring" is used as an entry-level text in many electrician training programs. Randy also appears at various corporate and trade association speaking engagements and consults on training program design and implementation. Randy is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School, served as a nuclear electrician in submarines and holds a B.S. in business.

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