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7 Common Mistakes Electricians Make and How to Avoid Them

Updated: May 24, 2023

As an electrician, your job is to ensure that electrical systems are safe and functional. However, there are some common mistakes that electricians make that can put people and property at risk. We'll take a closer look at some of these mistakes and discuss how to avoid them.

  1. Neglecting grounding issues- Grounding issues can be a concern for engineers, customers, and anyone in the electrical field. The main concern is usually the ground electrode, but in reality, the most significant issue is grounding on the neutral conductor downstream from the main neutral to ground bond. This can cause damage to customer-sensitive equipment. To ensure the integrity of the neutral, it is recommended to use a Megger to test the neutral to ground connection prior to energizing the service with the bond lifted.

  2. Improper Grounding- Grounding is a crucial part of any electrical system, and it's important to understand how it works. A ground conductor is the 5th conductor in a 3-phase 4-wire system or the 4th conductor in a single-phase system. The Equipment Ground Conductor (EGC) is a separate copper conductor and/or EMT rigid and other approved metallic wiring systems. Any and all building metallic components that are connected are part of the grounding system. If installed properly, the EGC should not see current, voltage or current present at any point in the system. To maintain proper grounding, it is recommended to lift the neutral ground bond and use a Megger to test the neutral to ground connection during electrical preventative maintenance.

  3. Failure to read instructions- Bolted pressure switches are common in electrical systems, but electricians must read the instructions carefully before operating them. Three major manufacturers of bolted pressure switches, Pringle (Eaton), BoltSwitch, and Square D (BoltLoc), all operate differently, and not reading instructions can lead to operational issues.

  4. Useless Isolated Grounds- Isolated Grounds (IG) branch circuits are usually a waste of time, and the use of IG circuits started due to ground noise, which is the result of grounds on the neutral downstream from the main NGB. Properly installed circuits and tested circuits will negate the need for IG circuits. However, if the engineer or customer wants an IG circuit, it is recommended to install two grounds and an IG receptacle to make it code compliant.

  5. Not using a Megger- Meggers are essential tools for electricians that help detect faults before energizing systems, which can protect people and equipment from electrical shocks and damage. Failing to use a Megger can put everyone at risk. It is recommended to use a Megger before energizing systems, after a fault, or anytime you have de-energized and are ready to re-energize.

  6. Over-tightening electrical connections- Over-tightening electrical connections can damage conductors and stress materials, leading to potential failures during electrical faults. Unfortunately, many electricians tend to over-tighten connections. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended to use a torque wrench to ensure proper tightening of electrical connections. If conductors are damaged when removed, it's likely that the connections were over-tightened.

  7. Failing to locate the source of a trip- When a circuit breaker trips or fuse blows, it's crucial to locate the source of the trip before closing causing unnecessary and preventable downtime and expenses.

To avoid these issues, it is crucial for electricians and technicians to stay up-to-date on the latest best practices and technologies in the field. Continuing education and professional development programs can help ensure that professionals are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

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