What Causes Electrical Transformers to Fail?

By North Central Electric,

  Filed under: Electrical, Safety Tips, Testing
  Comments: None

A transformer is an electrical device that consists of two or more coils that transfers electrical energy from one electrical circuit to another. They are used to boost voltage levels to transfer energy long distances and then lower voltage levels to decrease line losses during transmission. While power transformers often require less care compared to other electrical equipment within your facility, when they prematurely fail it can be devastating. Damages to a transformer can often exceed the cost to replace one and when you combine that with loss of production time, the results are not pretty. 

In order to prevent transformer failures, you need to understand what causes them to fail in the first place. While most failures can be avoided, the experts at NCE are sharing common instances that can cause your electrical transformer to fail and what you can do to keep your organization up and running. 

Human Assembly Error Successful operation of a transformer heavily depends on proper installation. It’s extremely important to hire an experienced service technician to properly assemble and maintain your electrical transformer. It’s also worth mentioning where the transformer is installed. If there is a lack of attention to the conditions in the place of installation, failure can occur. Avoid areas that are damp and exposed to extreme temperatures or dangerous gases. At NCE, our transformer services include offloading the transformer at its destination, assembling the accessories shipped with the transformer, vacuum and oil processing as well as the final acceptance testing to ensure proper installation. 

Design and Material Nowadays, transformers are assembled by machines, not humans. An assembly machine will often overlook points of weakness in a design that an experienced craftsman would otherwise notice right away. The material used to construct a transformer also plays a major role in how well it will perform. Using the correct wires and insulating materials makes all the difference in performance and longevity of your equipment. 

Wear and Tear The age of your transformer is critical when trying to avoid a failure. If your transformer is between 15-20 years old, it may be time to think about a replacement to avoid costly repairs. Once your transformer has reached this age, it may start showing signs of failure like electrical or mechanical disruptions or insulation degradation. 

Natural Disasters and Foreign Objects Natural disasters, like hurricanes, blizzards and severe thunderstorms can all wreak havoc on your transformers. High winds can damage parts and a lightning surge can destroy the function of your transformer entirely. Not only can Mother Nature pose a threat to your electrical 

equipment, foreign objects or small animals that make their way into the transformer can cause uncontrollable damage as well. 

Preventing a transformer failure is imperative to prevent loss of revenue, production time, damaged credibility and even fines and lawsuits that can occur after a failure. If you have any questions or concerns about your facility’s electrical transformers, the service technicians at North Central Electric Inc. are prepared and equipped to respond to any of your transformer needs. Contact us today to schedule a maintenance plan or electrical testing.