Circuit Breaker Maintenance

A circuit breaker is an electro-mechanical device used for protecting electrical circuits from excessive amounts of current or abnormal power conditions. A circuit breaker could be thought of as a resettable set of fuses. While fuses are very fast-acting, they are generally one time use, and cannot be reset. Circuit breakers can be reset and turned back on without replacing any parts.

man holding a voltage meter

What is the importance of circuit breakers?

Circuit breakers are crucial for interrupting and clearing faults and short circuits in an electrical system to prevent other parts of the electrical distribution system from becoming damaged or suffering from the fault condition. Without circuit breakers, wiring and other electrical devices could become overloaded, start melting the insulation, overheat, catch fire, and cause countless other serious problems. Circuit breakers now are integrated into all aspects of a facility, some with intricate design systems such as kirk key interlocks to allow the transfer of power across the facility from various sources of power.

Why do they need maintenance?

Electrical devices, such as circuit breakers in this instance, require maintenance for various reasons. Circuit breakers transfer voltage and current to the cabling and the loads throughout the system. This current generates some heat as it passes through any conductor and this heat can create problems such as insulating material degrading or melting. Circuit breakers also physically break the path of the current traveling through the breakers main contacts. These contacts can become pitted or worn, creating excessive resistance for the electricity to pass through, and thus creating more heat.

Who is it recommended for?

Maintenance of the electrical system and circuit breakers within the electrical distribution system are recommended for anyone that operates a critical facility where identifying problems before they create downtime is absolutely necessary.

Circuit breaker maintenance is also required for medium voltage and high voltage circuit breakers, where the testing requirements and safety equipment vary from that needed for low voltage circuit breakers.

How often should circuit breakers be tested?

Breakers need to be maintained based on the environment in which they’re operated, the criticality of the facility in which the device performs, and the age of the device(s). These standards are established by the International Electrical Testing Association (NETA). NETA uses a table to provide maintenance guidelines for equipment. A typical facility will conduct circuit breaker maintenance on an Annual basis, but manufacturer specifications and guidelines should always be followed.

How do you know if you need to replace a circuit breaker?

Failure of a circuit breaker or an associated trip unit may require breaker or breaker component replacement. Failure can occur in many different ways, each rendering the existing breaker as failed. For example, failure of springs, contacts, cams, switches, etc; loose connections within a circuit breaker can also cause thermal failure of the components and damage the molded case. LionHeart’s preventative maintenance and circuit breaker maintenance procedures will ensure we positively identify a potential failure point before your critical equipment fails, when you need it the most.

What is our process?

LionHeart’s process consists of a thorough visual inspection of the breaker, cabling, and accessory devices for the circuit breaker; if possible, we will perform a secondary injection test, verify proper insulation resistance, and perform a contact resistance test.

If necessary, based on the facility, the amount of circuit breakers, and scope of service being requested, LionHeart may partner with an electrical testing company to conduct this testing and provide reports for the work. Breaker testing tends to be quite involved with the use of remote power supplies, calibrated test equipment, meters and test benches capable of testing all breaker sizes and types.

Unmatched Expertise

We believe no organization should ever be at risk due to the failure of their critical power systems. LionHeart is the team you need for peace of mind.

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