Infrared Cameras Detect Dirty, Oxidized Electrical Connections

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Maintenance Departments Investing in Infrared TechnologyPt. 2: Infrared Cameras Uncover HVAC, Roofing IssuesPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Using CMMS Turns Infrared Imaging Into SavingsPt. 5: Schedule Infrared-Imaging Routes for Effective Preventive MaintenancePt. 6: An Inside Look at Infrared Technology

Front-line technicians are saving their organizations many thousands of dollars by using infrared cameras to spot impending problems that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to detect. Common examples include: internal oxidation or other buildup and leaks in steam pipes, traps, and heating coils; roof-membrane leaks into insulation that cause cooling loss in the summer, heat loss in the winter, and corrosion of metal roof decks and trusses above ceilings; and heat buildup behind wall boards in hidden pipes or conduit.

Thermal imaging also can help technicians avert serious trouble in checking electrical systems. Over time, electrical connections can become dirty or oxidized, generating excess heat. They also can become hot enough to suddenly melt metal or flash into flames in adjacent walls or ceilings, causing major structural damage and insurance claims, possibly even injury and loss of life.

Visually inspecting and cleaning every contact on every wire in the facility would avert such problems. But this process would take a huge amount of time, and it still would not guarantee all inspections and cleaning would occur before trouble arose.

Instead, many managers are using thermal-imaging surveys of all motors, drives, electrical boxes, and distribution-system junctions. Technicians can accomplish these tasks in a short amount time, often just a few seconds per measurement, and from floor level. Then, they can prioritize any hot spots and schedule further inspections, cleaning, and repairs.

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  posted on 11/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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