UNDERSTANDING YOUR FARM’S
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
Your farm’s electrical network is in fact, the heart and blood line of your operation. And if something goes wrong, it can affect your entire farm. From something as small as a faulty fan motor to the worst-case scenario, a farm fire, electrical faults and malfunctions can be the cause of any number of problems and unnecessary downtime on a dairy farm.
That’s why understanding your farm’s electrical network, proper maintenance, working with a licensed electrician and monitoring the health of the entire system is essential. Here’s a look at how your farm’s electrical system operates, including common problem areas and how you can avoid electrical issues on your dairy farm.
COMMON CAUSES Unfortunately, barn conditions provide the perfect conditions for these four common culprits:
As moisture and condensation build, corrosion can occur in any area of the barn, like receptacles, junction boxes and outlets. This often occurs after pressure washing or cleaning an area when water can easily get into critical electrical areas. Closely monitor your farm’s electrical system for at least a week following any extensive cleaning, watching for condensation build up or corrosion.
WEAR & TEAR
Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. Prolonged use of extension cords causes wear and tear, creating critical faults and hot points. Common signs of overuse or malfunctioning cords are overheating and melted plugs. Never leave an extension cord plugged in when the piece of equipment is not in use and be sure to use heavy duty, high gauge extension cords for farm needs. Ensure you store extension cords in electrical rooms to avoid wear and tear.
Breakers are your first line of defense against electrical anomalies like a short circuit. When a breaker is tripped, it interrupts the circuit, providing a necessary protection point against serious problems or the threat of a fire. Frequently inspect breakers, cleaning any dust or debris and schedule regular maintenance (at least once per year) with your licensed electrician to ensure your breakers are functioning properly.
Panel boxes and breakers regularly work at above normal working condition temperatures. After many heat-cool cycles, screws can loosen and cause arcing and heating. Panels should be inspected periodically, cleaned to remove debris and screws should be tightened by a licensed electrician on an annual basis. Without suitable ventilation, constant exposure to increased temperatures can cause premature aging and decay of your farm’s electrical system. Properly ventilating electrical rooms and areas where panel boxes and breakers are installed is critical.