Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: electrical failures

  1. TVSS or SPD … Can I Buy a Vowel? Understanding Surge Protection and the Changing Requirements

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    Surge Protective Devices (SPD), formerly known as Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors (TVSS) have been around for a long time.   The most recognized version is integrated into outlet strips and used to protect sensitive electronics from surges, or higher than expected voltages on the power line.  Early versions of these surge strips were known to have problems where internal components could overheat and cause a fire.  Thermal protection was added to the designs to greatly reduce the potential for a fire hazard.  Such an implementation in an outlet strip is considered a Type 3 SPD. (more…)

  2. In a Flash – The Transfer of Energies in Our Global Electrical System

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    According to published weather data for the year 2019, 2.35 billion lightning strikes were recorded across the world, with 223 million of these in the United States.  The movement of atmosphere causes electrical charges to build up between clouds.  A tipping point is reached where the insulating properties of the air cannot withstand the level of energy and a discharge occurs.

    Image Credit: Charleston Post and Courier. A lightning strike over Charleston, SC on July 3, 2019.

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  3. Congratulations Tom Kelly on CESCP Certification!

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    Congratulations to Tom Kelly for completing his Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional designation. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) program, CESCP, is designed to meet the needs of electrical and safety professionals who oversee electrical safety programs or who manage electricians and other personnel exposed to electrical hazards.

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  4. The Demise of Insulation on Electrical Wiring

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    Unlike fine wines and some types of cheeses, not everything ages well.  Such is the case with the materials used as insulation of electrical wiring.  While the copper metal used as the conductor in many wire types will last virtually forever, the cladding used to protect and insulate the wire allowing electrons to flow to their final destination does not. (more…)

  5. Hidden Heat: The Unseen Hazard of a High Resistance Connection

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    A typical residence can have upwards of 10,000 feet of electrical conductors installed, most of which are buried in the walls, attics and crawlspaces.  A commercial building can have 100,000 to upwards of 1 million feet of electrical conductors.  At each device such as a switch or a receptacle are at least three, and typically six or more connections of these conductors within a junction box.  The connections can be in the form of twisted connectors, screw terminals, push in terminals and crimped connectors.

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  6. Testing…testing… Is this thing on?

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    Many people just take for granted that something is just going to work, and in many cases assume that it will work forever.  One such device that does not get enough attention is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).   Simply put, a GFCI is a protective device that compares the current flowing on the hot and neutral wires of the circuit and will “trip” to disconnect power to the circuit if a small imbalance of current is detected.  The imbalance of current is an indication of a dangerous alternate path for the current to flow from a damaged line cord or a fault inside an appliance and constitutes a shock hazard to a person. (more…)

  7. Ready, Set, Fly! – Understanding Another Technology for Forensic Investigations

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    This is the first blog in a series on integrating new technologies into the process of forensic investigations.  Documenting the scene of an incident accurately, efficiently, and safely is a key step in every investigation.  Busy roadways and unstable structures present hazards to the investigator during the investigation process. The use of remote sensors can reduce these risks and provide data that otherwise could not safely be obtained. (more…)

  8. Grounding versus Bonding – Understanding the Difference in Building Electrical Systems

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    While a teenager might be very familiar with being “grounded”, there is confusion over the meaning of the word in the electrical sense. In building electrical systems, “grounding” and “bonding” are two terms that are often misunderstood. Improper application of the concepts of grounding and bonding may create lethal shock and fire hazards. “Earthing” is a term which comes from the European International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC). Earthing is synonymous with grounding but often thought to have a different meaning. (more…)

  9. Using Historical Weather Data to Investigate Lightning Strike Claims

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    Property damage claims to sensitive electronic equipment due to a direct or nearby lightning strike are frequently difficult to substantiate to a high degree of confidence.  Electrical damage to common consumer electronic equipment (televisions, computers and accessories, wireless routers, telephones, fax machines, electronic security systems, etc.) is most frequently not visible to the naked eye during a physical inspection of the allegedly failed equipment.  So, how do we investigate an electrical loss when an insured claims he has $30,000 worth of non-functioning equipment? (more…)

  10. Electric Motors – The Electrical Work Horse of Industry

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    Electric motors are the work horses of the electrical industry. Their use is so pervasive in our industrial society that approximately 75% of electrical power sold to industry is used for the operation of electric motors. With so many electric motors in operation, it becomes imperative that they be utilized and maintained properly. A failed electric motor causes delays in production, which in turn impacts the bottom line. (more…)

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