Hospitals, clinics, and medical offices exist to make people well in a safe environment. That’s why it’s extremely important for owners and operators of commercial health care offices and facilities to perform regular checkups of their buildings the same way doctors recommend regular checkups for their patients. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thus, keeping up with a building’s preventative maintenance program is the best way to ensure that a building stays functional and doesn’t develop problems that can lead to serious breakdown.
One of the most important systems in any building is the electrical system. Performing regular checkups followed by preventative maintenance is critical for everyday operation. Medical buildings especially need power to function. An outage can be a matter of life or death for patients depending on the circumstances. In addition, electrical problems can eventually become so serious that they can lead to life-threatening fires that cause serious damage to the building. More than 8 percent of fires in nonresidential buildings were caused by electrical malfunctions. Given how vitally important preventative maintenance is to keeping medical buildings safe for patients and staff, property owners and health care professionals must have a plan in place. Following are some tips to help medical professionals and property owners develop such a plan:
Preventative Maintenance for Electrical Systems
- Get regular inspections. First and foremost, a licensed electrician should inspect a building’s electrical wiring at least once a year, preferably twice a year. This will identify potential problems before they can develop into something serious, making it easier to deal with any issues once they’re found.
- Check generators. Emergency generators should be exercised at least once a week and transfer load tested once a month. If left idle for longer than a week, air can enter the mechanisms and cause failures when the generator is started. The generator should be inspected for signs of wear. Oil levels and filters should be checked on a regular basis.
- Load Verification. It is very important that circuit breakers are not overloaded. Check the number of amps used by each piece of equipment or appliance. Make sure they don’t exceed the maximum amps allowed by your breaker.
Fire Prevention Tips
- Check smoke detectors. Every floor of a building should have at least one smoke detector, and those smoke detectors should be tested monthly. Batteries should be changed every six months, as well.
- Examine power cords carefully. Frayed, cracked or stripped electrical cords can cause fires, so power cords must be examined regularly to make sure they are still intact and replaced if they are not. Power cords should not be run under rugs or carpeting for this reason.
- Keep curtains and drapes clear. Caution should be used when hanging drapes or curtains. They should remain at least 3 feet away from space heaters or any other equipment or appliances that can become hot to prevent them from catching fire.
- Consult an electrician. If there have been any changes to the building’s fuse box or electrical system for any reason, a professional electrician should inspect those changes to ensure they will not overload the building’s wiring and cause a fire.
It can be easy for health care professionals to forget about the importance of preventative maintenance for their facilities because of the lifesaving work they do every day. However, neglecting the work that has to go into ensuring the overall safety of those facilities is a recipe for disaster. Power failures and electrical fires are just two of the outcomes that can result when preventative maintenance plans are not created and implemented on a regular basis in commercial health care buildings. A well maintained building means patients and professionals can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they will be cared for and safe.
Loranne May serves as Marketing Specialist at Connelly Electric. Loranne plays a key role in promoting Connelly Electric’s brand, services, capabilities, and qualifications as a well-known and well-respected electrical contractor in the industry.