I've been to many churches and nonprofit buildings over my 30+ years in the insurance business and seen many concerns in the maintenance areas of the buildings especially in the areas where the electrical systems are located.
Chances are, periodically checking your church's electrical system doesn't top your to-do list. It may not even make it on your list. But a quick check every now and then is worth it from a safety and cost perspective.
Two red flags you'll want to look for in particular are missing covers and combustible materials, both of which can create expensive – and dangerous – problems if not corrected.
Missing covers on junction boxes, panels, switches and receptacles expose the internal energized circuits to inadvertent contact or damage. This creates a potential for shock, arc flash and electrocution hazards. When covers are missing, dust, dirt and debris can enter the interior of the enclosure. Metallic objects could fall into open knockouts and short-circuit the internal wires and electrical devices.
Combustible Materials in Close Proximity
Electrical equipment can fail catastrophically. When this happens, heat from arcing can melt the wires, devices and electrical enclosures. Combustible materials (corrugated paper boxes, paper products, holiday decorations, wood and cleaning supplies, to name a few) in the vicinity of the arc flash can ignite and cause a building fire.
Steps to Take Now
Follow these best practices to maintain your electrical system and protect your facility:
- Be selective. Restrict access to electrical rooms to authorized maintenance or operations personnel who understand the importance of maintaining a clean, well-ventilated electrical room.
- Create breathing room. Excessive heat buildup will result in premature failure and shortened equipment service life. Store items – especially combustibles – at least 36 inches away from electrical panels, electrical equipment, and ventilation vents and openings. Doing so will ensure proper air circulation and cooling.
- Clean and declutter. A concerted effort should be made to reduce the number of unused items in the electrical room and to store items in a neat and orderly fashion. Find a different spot for seasonal items, like holiday decorations, and janitorial/cleaning supplies. Keep the electrical room's floor dry.
In the event the worst does happen, make sure you're protected. Call California Church Insurance Services at (800) 767-8681 for a free church insurance quote.
(Article Courtesy: GuideOne Insurance)