Utility maintenance programs are responsible for making sure that there is sufficient power for everyone. During down times, service interruptions might occur, leaving thousands of homes without power. This is also the perfect time when the transformers should be cleaned. Many utility maintenance programs are overlooking the importance of cleaning the transformers. This stage is essential, especially when the utility maintenance programs are trying to become more efficient when transporting power from the stations to the consumers. Regularly cleaning the transformers would also prevent intermittent blackouts. Transformers that are not routinely maintained can lead to costly repairs, and it will eventually fail, leaving many people in the dark.
The problem with outdated maintenance programs
The electrical generation and distribution industry are using outdated programs when it comes to maintaining their substations, and it is resulting in a lot of deficiencies. What the industry needs to do to preserve their substations is to clean the high voltage insulators, which will prevent further failure due to contamination. A regular inspection is also required to make sure that the insulators are working correctly. Another problem faced by substations are the old transformers that are still used today. Most transformers that are still operating at the distribution level are now decades old, and proper maintenance is required to keep it from failing.
The most common solution regarding this matter is repainting the exterior coatings that will prevent the transformers from being damaged due to corrosion. It also extends the lifespan of these transformers, making it more efficient. This procedure will require minimal investment, and it can be completed in a short period. A lot of equipment pieces within a substation are also vulnerable to corrosion, and these could fail eventually when neglected. There should be an updated maintenance program in place that would require inspection of all of the equipment pieces in a substation for corrosion. That should be followed by the application of a brand new coating to protect them from further damage. It is a cost-effective method that will save operators a lot of money.
What are the outdated maintenance methods that are still used today?
There are many outdated maintenance methods today that are still being considered by the utility maintenance programs. However, there is an ongoing call to modernize this process so that substations would become more efficient. The majority of the national grid has been operating for more than five decades, and the maintenance programs that the operators are using are outdated. The main issue with these outdated maintenance programs is that it assumes that modern steel structures are immune to corrosion. However, this belief has been proven by studies to be false. In the past, the top part of the transformers and its seals are not inspected for rust because the maintenance people think that it will be refurbished regularly. This action would result in the continuous weathering of the transformer, and eventually, its failure. Another reason why transformers are not inspected thoroughly is because of the belief that transformer painting services are included in refurbishing packages. This leads to the utility maintenance personnel does not bother checking on it. Through the years, technology improved, and most transformers increased in durability. Many transformers today last for decades, and the corrosion and weathering slowed down. This means that before the transformers go out of service, it needs to be repainted regularly. This is where the transformer painting services come into play – firms that offer maintenance services for durable transformers that are weathering and corroding slowly. Availing of these services would ensure a substation that the transformers under their control can be used for a more extended period.
High Voltage Insulators - How are these equipment contaminated?
High voltage insulators are one of the most essential parts of a substation, and without them, power cannot be appropriately distributed to the consumers. This would cause frequent blackouts.
These equipment pieces are highly vulnerable to elements – acid rain, smog, ash, soot, and engine exhaust all contribute to its failure. When small particles start to settle inside the insulator, problems will begin to happen. Rain can wash away the majority of the specks of dust, but others will stick to the insulator and will thicken over time. Droplets of oil can also worsen the situation, as well as blown dust and soil, which can contribute to the insulator’s erosion. Mineral salts that are present in the air will contribute to the increased moisture content on the insulators, leading to its abrasion. To prevent these issues from becoming a serious concern, regular cleaning of the high voltage insulator should be practiced.
High Voltage Insulators – Inspection and Cleaning Tips
The accumulation of particles on the high voltage insulators would contribute to frequent power interruption, and consumers will become dissatisfied with the services if it continues to happen. To prevent the accumulation of particles on the insulators, proper inspection and cleaning are required. What the substation operators need to do is to conduct regular inspection of the insulators, and they need to find out where the particle build-up is located. Once identified, they can start removing these contaminants with special equipment designed for insulators. Substation operators can also outsource services through licensed maintenance providers. These maintenance providers are trained to deal with these issues, and they have all of the equipment needed to rectify the problem.
Regular maintenance should be practiced after the high voltage insulators have been cleaned. This is important so that the substation would never have to pay hefty amounts for the replacement of a failing insulator. The continuous accumulation of particles, dirt, and other materials on the insulators would contribute to its failure. Power interruption would happen regularly, and the consumers would hate it when there is no electricity. Substation operators should be responsible enough to schedule this maintenance procedure on a regular basis.
Transformers – Weathering due to several factors
Transformers are made from steel, and these are essential equipment pieces used by substations to distribute electricity to homes and other buildings. When exposed to different elements, transformers are bound to fail. This is due to the material that was used in creating it. Transformers can operate for decades, and maintenance is required to keep it from failing. These are some of the elements that contribute to the failure of transformers, especially when there are no maintenance procedures applied:
1. Thermal cycling – this is the term used when a piece of equipment had to go through extreme temperature levels in a short period. This phenomenon can be observed in transformers, and the continuous thermal cycling process can contribute to its failure. When the transformers are exposed to higher temperatures, and suddenly plummets to low temperatures, the steel enclosing it would be affected. Science explains that steel is susceptible to changes when exposed to different temperatures. Steel expands when it is subjected to higher temperatures, and it shrinks when it is subjected to lower temperatures. The continuous thermal cycling would damage the steel enclosing the transformer, and when cracks are noticed, the steel casing needs to be repaired. When substation operators neglect this, it can result in tremendous power interruption and the failure of the transformer. Repairs will be costly, taking a massive chunk of the budget for the substation.
2. Blown dust abrasion – dust particles originated from different sources, and it varies in size. Despite its small size, dust can be damaging, especially to transformers. Abrasion can happen if dust makes contact with the steel casing of the transformer. While substation operators would not notice it at first, the damage would become more significant as dust particles in the air increases. Over time, the small damage that they contribute would become more noticeable. The most common damage that can result from continuous dust abrasion would be paint chipping. Substation operators would need to avail of transformer painting services to restore the transformer to its former condition.
3. Pollution – another thing that can affect the transformer tremendously is the pollution in a given area. There are a lot of contaminants in polluted air, and these contaminants can stick to the transformer’s steel casing. Without proper maintenance, the steel casing of these transformers could develop corrosion, and it would eat up the metal surface until holes can be noticed. When the substation is located in an area that is heavily polluted, the operators should conduct regular maintenance to keep the transformers from being destroyed. The corrosion would have a negative effect on the paint too, and transformer painting services should be availed regularly to protect the steel casing from being overwhelmed with damages.
4. Precipitation – when a transformer is covered in paint that has been applied by firms that specialize in transformer paint services, the chances of corrosion due to precipitation is low. However, if the precipitation is acidic, the protection rate from the paint decreases — acid rain forms in places that are heavily polluted by different elements. When there are lots of dangerous particles in the atmosphere, acid rain could develop. Acid rain is a known cause of corrosion for steel structures, and transformers are not exempted. Transformer repainting services would be required more frequently, especially for areas where acid rain is more common.
5. Ultraviolet light – ultraviolet light comes from the sun, and when a transformer with steel casing constantly receives excessive sunlight, it would develop corrosion over time. When the ultraviolet light from the sun is combined with small water droplets, the corrosion could develop faster. One of the most common results of excessive ultraviolet absorption for transformers would be the development of rust. Many substation operators are inspecting their transformers for rust. When they have located one that has been rusting, firms that specialize in transformer painting services are called immediately to inspect the damage and determine how it can be restored.
Transformers – How to deal with rust?
Rusting is a common issue for transformers, and firms that specialize in transformer painting services can be contacted to restore the equipment. Rust is an indicator that the steel is slowly eroding, and when transformer painting services are applied, a new layer of paint will coat the steel casing that will prevent the damage from expanding. The cost of transformer painting services varies per company, and substation operators would need to search for a place that offers the best deal. There are a lot of companies who provide this kind of services online, and substation operators should contact these establishments and ask them how much would the services be.
Operators of electrical substations should update their maintenance practices to match the current standard. This is a requirement to keep the equipment inside the substation in service. Without maintenance, the equipment inside the substation could fail within a short period. This would lead to huge expenses that can disrupt how the business operators.
Insulators, transformers, and other substation equipment made from steel should be the main focus of maintenance services. Insulators have a limited lifespan, and it can fail when it is not maintained correctly. To save a lot of money, most operators are resorting to different maintenance programs that would extend its lifespan. The insulators would also require regular checking and inspecting to prevent the development of more problems.
The transformers are also bound to weather and corrode over time. Because it is made from steel, the paint from the transformers will chip off, especially if it sits in a hostile environment. Operators should pay for transformer painting services regularly to prevent the development of rust and corrosion on the transformer. This is a more cost-effective approach rather than buying a whole new transformer, and it would save the substation a lot of money that can be used for the improvement of their services to the public.
Many firms offer transformer painting services, and what they advertise is that substations should always grab these opportunities because the protection of the substation is essential. Rust and corrosion can happen simultaneously, and it appears without warning. If the substation is preparing for it to happen, the damage can be minimized.
The public is always requesting for a reliable source of power, and substations that always fail due to maintenance issue would contribute to the public’s distrust. However, substations that keep their equipment protected from corrosion and rust will be more efficient in distributing power. Regular maintenance would result in a minimal power interruption, and it would make the customers satisfied with the services that they receive.