Article Library

A Simple Timer Can Prevent Short Cycling in Cooling Systems

A leading cause of loss in air conditioning and refrigeration is compressor failure.  Because these failures occur during periods of peak usage, repairs are not only costly; they come at a time when parts and repair service may not be immediately available. Every year, Hartford Steam Boiler pays many claims for tens of thousands of dollars each because of compressor failures that inconvenience customers and interrupt business. The cause of many such failures is short cycling, meaning that the compressor is called back into operation after having been stopped for only a brief period of time. This results in the compressor starting against nearly full high side discharge pressure, causing severe loading of both mechanical and electrical elements of the compressor.»more

Fundamentals of Aluminum Conductors, Part 2

The increased use of aluminum conductors in the 1960s and 1970s led to millions of dollars in electrical breakdown claims for Hartford Steam Boiler and many millions more in fire losses for property insurers. These claims were primarily the result of failures of aluminum connectors or connections. But, the proper preparation and installation of aluminum conductors can reduce or even eliminate this type of failure. Part 1 of this article addressed the characteristics of aluminum conductors. Part 2 discusses proper installation and maintenance.»more

Is Your Surge Protection Good Enough?

Most people think they have adequate surge protection because they’ve installed surge protection devices on their personal computers. But is it really working and is it adequate? Is it providing protection against lightning and other line disturbances? »more

Ammonia Refrigeration in Cold Storage Facilities

The demand for convenience foods in the United States has resulted in the construction of millions of square feet of public and private cold storage facilities. With modern rack storage, it is not unusual to find product values in excess of $10 million stored at one facility. For large cold storage facilities, ammonia has become the refrigerant of choice. »more

Preparing for an Electrical Power Outage

What would you do if your business suddenly lost power? Advanced planning is critical to minimize the risk to your operations. Are you ready? If not, where do you start? Here are some suggestions that can help.»more

Equipment Operator Activities - Your Preventive Maintenance Program

Equipment operators play a key role in helping to avoid breakdowns. When equipment does go down, operators can take actions to minimize the impact on the overall operation of the facility. That means the operator must take charge of their equipment. By properly operating and maintaining machinery, they can demonstrate the importance of their role in saving the business time and money. »more

Electrical Preventive Maintenance


College Learns Lesson About Poor Equipment Maintenance

A community college reported a loss to two new semi-hermetic 50-ton reciprocating compressors, part of a 200-ton chiller for the campus auditorium. During the cooler months, two of the four compressors operated, alternating use between the four units. In the summer months, all four compressors were needed to completely cool the facility.»more

Preventative Maintenance Could Have Saved Thousands


Don't Wait Until It's Too Late to Plan for an Emergency(2)

A public water company used pre-emergency planning to minimize its downtime after a flood. When it became apparent there was a high probability its facilities would be flooded, the company arranged for repair crews to be on call and replacement parts to be stored in a nearby safe area. After the flood waters subsided, restoration work began immediately, while other companies were scrambling to find repair crews and supplies. »more

Boiler Operation and Maintenance

Each year, hundreds of accidents are reported nationally involving steam and hot water heating boilers. Most are attributed to malfunctioning low water cutoffs, operator error, poor maintenance and/or corrosion. Properly functioning control or safety devices are absolutely essential. The only way you can be confident they will work when needed is to regularly perform required maintenance and testing. »more

Implementing Electrical Preventive Maintenance - A Guide for Business and Industry

Electrical losses continue to top the list as the equipment category with the most premature breakdowns. An effective Electrical Preventive Maintenance (EPM) program will go a long way to help avoid the extra expense, disruptions and lost profits that can result. Yet, it may seem overwhelming for many businesses to develop, implement and follow up on an EPM program. This article is designed to provide information and recommendations that will help you move ahead. »more

Does it Make Sense to Close Down a Plant

With so much uncertainty in the world economy, market forces prompt many companies to shut down an industrial or commercial facility or a major piece of equipment for an extended period. The owners may intend to reopen the plant and restart the equipment when conditions improve, but what will happen to that property and equipment over the months or years?»more

An Analysis of Transformer Failures, Part 2

 Over the years, Hartford Steam Boiler has investigated thousands of transformer failures, compiling an extensive database of loss information. In Part One of this article, the author used data from HSB’s latest 10-year study of transformer claims to examine the types of breakdowns, frequency, severity, and the issue of transformer age. In part two, he discusses the causes of transformer failures, recommends a maintenance program and concludes with  ways to help achieve maximum service life. »more

Help Your Air Conditioning System Beat the Heat This Summer

It happens every year. Warmer weather brings a sharp increase in air conditioning breakdowns as equipment is started up without proper maintenance. There are many factors that can lead to an air conditioning breakdown, but a dirty condenser or poor quality lubrication can significantly increase the chances of a problem. Neglected maintenance also can decrease system performance.»more

Are There Red Flags In Your Boiler Room?

While conducting jurisdictional examinations of boilers and pressure vessels, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspectors see many conditions that cause a “red flag” to go up. As a boiler owner, operator, service technician, municipal code enforcement official, or insurance professional, you can learn to recognize them, too. »more

Fundamentals of Aluminum Conductors Part 1

There are many myths, beliefs, and opinions in the industry on why aluminum conductors should or should not be used in certain applications. The use of aluminum conductors causes questions and concerns for many electricians, engineers, inspectors, and owners. In Part 1 of this article, we will address the background and the characteristics of aluminum conductors. »more

The Key to Avoiding Costly Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Failures is Proper Maintenance and Effective Protection

The breakdown of hermetic air conditioning and refrigeration equipment continues to be a leading cause of loss for businesses and institutions. To make matters worse, the design and location of equipment drives up the cost of repairs and increases the potential for expensive business interruption losses. »more

Telecommunications Equipment — Advances in Technology Continue to Transform the Industry

Telecommunications equipment technology continues to rapidly expand. Telecom equipment has evolved from a simple device that conveyed voice over modest distances (telephony) to complex media that transfer voice and data worldwide. Telecom now uses analog and digital technology, and fiber-optical conductors. »more

STRAP — A New Risk-Based Analysis Tool For Steam Turbine Decision Making, Part 1

[Editors Note: STRAP risk ranking, program testing and conclusions follow in Part 2 of this article.] »more

STRAP — A New Risk-Based Analysis Tool for Steam Turbine Decision Making, Part 2

[Editors Note: Part 1 of this article discussed the development of the STRAP program. This article concludes with risk comparison, testing and a summary of benefits.] »more

Short-Circuit and Protection Coordination Studies

How do you know if a circuit breaker will work when called upon to interrupt an electrical fault or short-circuit? The answer is, you probably don’t know for sure. If unusually high currents exceed the capability of protective devices in the power system, a short-circuit can cause the devices to explode like a bomb. What is needed is a short-circuit/protection coordination study done on your electrical system.»more

Safety Should Be Everybody's Business - Don't Underestimate The Value of Employee Safety

The safety of a company’s employees is critical to its success. No matter how sophisticated the technology, it is employees who operate a business and maintain the equipment. It takes people to resolve problems when disruptions occur. Ignore the safety of employees, and a business can experience financial losses and a tarnished reputation. »more

Renewable Fuses: Protection or Self-Deception?

Unlike most fuses, renewable fuses do require some maintenance. Due to the design factors discussed in the full-text article that follows, and a corresponding lack of maintenance, renewable fuses present a higher than normal risk for equipment damage and fires. »more

Reducing Spoilage Risks in Perishable Goods Storage

What can the operators of commercial cold storage facilities and supermarkets do to prevent the headaches and expense associated with spoilage? No single step or process improvement will, by itself, prevent spoilage of product. Rather, success depends on the application of several loss prevention measures. »more

Recommended Accident Prevention Procedures for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Equipment

Here are some recommended maintenance steps to help improve the operation and reliability of your equipment.»more

Providing Non-Stop Power for Critical Electrical Loads

The loss of electric power interrupts some vital digital communications networks, advanced medical therapies, financial transactions such as credit cards and bank operations, elevator service, refrigeration and other essential services. This equipment is so critical that there is a great demand for non-stop electric power. There are many ways to provide auxiliary power for times when the public supply goes down. We may think first of backup generators, but there are other devices available, including flywheel generators and battery/inverter systems. Choosing among them is the subject of this discussion. »more

Protecting Digital Control Equipment from Electrical Transient Damage

[Editor’s Note: Since this article first appeared (The Locomotive Spring 1996), business and industry has become more dependent than ever on sophisticated electronics. This revised version is intended to help you improve the installation and protection of electronic control devices so they perform properly and are less likely to be damaged by electrical power problems.]  »more

Protecting Communication and Sensitive Electronic Equipment From Lightning and Voltage Surges


Proper Air Flow in Surgery: Protects Patients and The Bottom Line (HVAC)

Equipment breakdowns during surgery can directly affect the health of patients and force the shutdown of a hospital’s entire surgical suite. Without reliable surgical capabilities, a hospital’s emergency room may shut down, causing elective surgeries to be postponed or performed at other hospitals. In-house patients may have to be transferred to competing hospitals. And the media attention brought on by the closing of a hospital’s surgical suite and lingering concerns about reliability issues also can lose future business to other hospitals.»more

Proper Boiler Installation And Maintenance Can Help Avoid Expensive Breakdowns


Power Quality Is Important, Here is What You Can Do

When a momentary power interruption occurs at home, it can be a source of irritation. When the same momentary interruption occurs in an office, a process line, or production line, the result can be a costly equipment breakdown. Years ago a brief outage was not considered a problem, but today’s solid state devices are very sensitive to power system fluctuations. It is this vulnerability of modern technology that has brought an increased awareness of power system variations, a reality of life that has always been present.»more

Maximize the Service Life of Your Transformer


Low Water Cutoffs – What Can I do to Prevent A Low Water Condition?

Low water conditions are the leading cause of boiler incidents. Why should such a major causal factor be so difficult to control? The reasons are varied. But, they can be summarized as loss of water, failure to replace the water, and failure to detect the situation.»more

Loss of Refrigeration - It Could Spoil Your Day


Loss Migration Action Plans: Preparations For The Loss of Essential Services and Guidelines for Restarting Equipment

Editor’s Note: The Gulf Coast hurricanes in 2005 caused devastating losses of life and property. These disasters focused renewed attention on emergency planning and recovery procedures. That includes equipment operation, which is vital to the protection and recovery of a business and the public in the event of an unexpected calamity. The information in this article has been updated and expanded since it was originally published in The Locomotive. With today’s economic pressures and security concerns, a loss mitigation action plan is more important than ever.»more

Keeping the Lights On: An Action Plan for America's Aging Utility Transformers

The United States is demanding more electrical power. At the same time, the age of transformers in the electric utility industry continues to rise. From a peak of new installations in the United States in the mid-1970s, today's capital spending on new and replacement transformers is at its lowest level in decades. To make matters worse, the load on each transformer (or its utilization) continues to grow. Power consumption is increasing at a rate of about 2 percent per year.»more

Installing Fire Protection Systems

Fire protection at a commercial or industrial facility consists of much more than a few sprinkler heads. A network of engineered systems must all function together to be effective. Unlike most engineered systems, however, installed fire protection systems cannot be tested under actual conditions. »more

Infrared Thermography: Taking the Heat Off Faulty Connections

Infrared thermography surveys use the latest technology to spot problems in electrical systems and equipment. This high-tech tool can help most any business, regardless of when you installed your equipment, since age has no relationship to the likelihood of overheated electrical connections. Still, infrared testing is an area that may be misunderstood by those who could benefit from testing.»more

Infrared Thermography Testing - Going Beyond The Electrical Connection

Most people think of infrared thermography as a tool that is used to detect problems with electrical connections. But that represents only part of the array of applications and potential benefits when this technology is properly conducted by qualified personnel. »more

Increasing Transformer Reliability Using Insulating Oil Analysis

Transformer breakdowns can result in work stoppages and property losses with damage from power outage or fire. Using insulating oil analysis is an effective way to increase the reliability of transformers and other equipment at a reasonable cost. This testing technique has a proven track record of success and can be more effective and less disruptive than other available methods. Insulating oil samples can usually be taken without removing the equipment from service.»more

Improving Boiler Life and Reducing Cast Iron Boiler Accidents

With proper operation and careful maintenance, cast iron boilers can give many years of service. However, there is a tendency to forget about the heating plant when the weather becomes warm enough to shut down the boiler. With automatic controls, heating boilers are taken for granted even during the heating season. The full-text article that follows this summary provides more detailed guidelines for spring shutdown and fall-start up. Here are some general tips to improve efficiency and safety and extend the useful life of your boiler.»more

How Will Your Air Conditioning Perform This Summer?

Poor maintenance is a primary reason for many air conditioning breakdowns. This is especially true prior to starting up air conditioning units for the first time in the cooling season and during heavy use in the hotter months. Here are nine maintenance tips for smaller hermetically sealed units that you can use to help avoid costly breakdowns.»more

How To Protect Your Organization From Electrical Power Outages

There are ways to reduce equipment exposures due to electric utility service outages. The article that follows this summary is a basic discussion of the issue, covering how electrical distribution works and some of the contractual and physical answers to dealing with the problem. Topics include: »more

Copper Deposits On Turbine Blades: A Copper-Plated Thief

Once viewed as an isolated problem, the number of utilities reporting copper deposits on turbine blades is growing rapidly. It’s not completely understood why the deposits accumulate, but the consequences are clear — the contamination can rob generating units of significant amounts of capacity, may lead to costly repairs and can shut down a unit for several weeks. »more

Guidelines For Providing Surge Protection

Damage from electrical transients, or surges, is one of the leading causes of electrical equipment failure. An electrical transient is a short duration, high-energy impulse that is imparted on the normal electrical power system whenever there is a sudden change in the electrical circuit. It can originate from a variety of sources, both internal and external to a facility.»more

Transformer Asset Management

Capital spending on new and replacement transformers is at its lowest level in decades. To make matters worse, the load on each transformer continues to grow, with power consumption increasing at a rate of about 2 percent per year. Faced with the challenges of increased equipment utilization, deferred capital expenditures and reduced maintenance budgets, many utilities are beginning to develop their own Life Cycle Transformer Management programs. »more

Heat and Power Problems are the Greatest Risks To Telecom Equipment

A telecommunications network is comprised of digital electronics. Today’s telephone switches are nothing more than expensive computers with sophisticated software that direct voice and data and provide features such as call waiting, caller ID and voice mail, and all the other features we have come to expect. »more

Fire Protection in Power Plants: Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems at Electric Generating Plants

Fires in electric power generating plants can have costly and even fatal consequences. Yet, the owners and operators of many plants have paid little if any attention to fire suppression systems since they were installed 10 or even 20 years ago. In about one-third of the cases in which fire suppression systems fail to operate as expected, the cause is inadequate inspection, testing and maintenance.»more

Chemical Cleaning Of Boilers - To Clean or Not To Clean


An Analysis of Transformer Failures Part 1

Transformer failures are common and costly. In this article, the first of two parts, the author discusses the types of transformers most likely to break down, frequency and severity, and the issue of transformer age. The findings are based on a 10-year study of Hartford Steam Boiler transformer claims, one of a series of studies conducted over several decades. »more

An Analysis of International Transformer Failures, Part 1

[Editor’s Note: In past articles, the author has discussed challenges and solutions involving transformer operations in the United States . In this two-part article, he addresses international developments. Part 1 includes an examination of the five-year loss trends as reported by international equipment breakdown insurers. In an upcoming issue, Part 2 will examine transformer aging and offer a global perspective of the industry as seen by those who manufacture transformer equipment.] »more

What You Think You Know About Industrial Fire Really Can Hurt You

When properly designed, installed and maintained, fire sprinkler systems are an effective means of protecting people, equipment and property in industrial and commercial facilities. But mistaken notions about sprinklers and other fire suppression equipment keep many businesses from installing necessary equipment. »more

When Should You Do Your Next Major Turbine Outage?

How can you decide and justify the right time between major outages for steam turbine generators? A proven approach is to have your steam turbines and generators analyzed by Hartford Steam Boiler's proprietary risk-based programs. TOOP (Turbine Outage Optimization Program) and STRAP (»more

E-Business Face Unique Equipment Exposures

An e-business risk exists at any commercial business location that produces revenue based on transactions made through a public or private information network. The transactions involved in e-business can include retail sales, currency and securities trades, credit card charges, or information services. In most commercial contexts, an e-business involves an Internet Web site. »more

An Analysis of International Transformer Failures, Part 2

[Editor’s Note: In the last issue, Part 1 of this article examined five-year loss trends of transformer breakdowns as reported by international equipment breakdown insurers. In Part 2, the author discusses the aging of the worldwide transformer fleet and shares a global perspective as seen by those in the transformer industry.]  »more

Cost Benefit Analysis of Power Reliability Strategies


Transformer Oil Testing: Case Studies for Managing the Risk of Electrical Outages

Transmission and distribution system reliability is normally measured after a period of operating time — too late to prevent losses due to an unscheduled electrical outage. Hartford Steam Boiler’s »more

Boiler Inspectors Can Help With New Installations or Retrofits

Objectives:  Whether installing a new boiler or retrofitting an existing boiler, there are certain objectives that you as the owner want to ensure are met when the job is done. Your boiler inspector may be in a position to help you achieve them. Among the objectives are: »more

When Failure Analysis of Broken Parts Is Not Enough

Hartford Steam Boiler paid $600,000 as part of steam turbine claim because the inspections and investigative work after a failure did not find all of the broken parts. In this particular incident, the last blade stage of the low-pressure turbine encountered a water induction incident as a result of a high condenser hotwell level. The turbine blades were fastened by tie wires and some of the blades and tie wires were damaged during the incident.»more

What Do You Expect from an Infrared Survey?

Infrared thermography is an effective tool to help avoid electrical breakdown claims. Testing equipment for electrical “hot spots” may pinpoint potential problems while there is still time to take preventive action. Virtually any company of any size should have a formal infrared thermography program. But it’s not enough to say you want to have your electrical system surveyed, and then do it. You need a plan that presents not only your end results, but also how you expect to get there. »more

Warning: Disabling That Alarm Can Be Costly

Warning devices are an important feature of any type of equipment or system. Correct procedures must be followed to ensure that alarms and back-up systems are operating properly and not disabled or circumvented when performing maintenance or repairs. A recent claim for damage to a wood finishing company’s boiler shows what can happen when those procedures are forgotten or ignored.»more

Use Extra Care When Plugging Boiler Tubes


Transformer Loss Shows Need for Review

A large transformer failed under full load conditions. The arcing and violent fault of the high voltage windings caused a bulging of the tank. Oil escaped and started a fire that was controlled by the deluge system. Internal damage to the transformer was extensive and it took two weeks to replace the unit. Fortunately, the insured had a spare on-site. The replacement cost was significant, but relatively minor compared to the multi-million dollar business interruption loss.»more

There’s No Such Thing as “Maintenance Free”

If you have an interest in keeping a machine operational for an extended period of time, then maintenance is not the place to cut corners. When you're looking at equipment from a life-cycle perspective, there is no such thing as "maintenance-free."»more

The Proper Use and Maintenance of Water Softeners

Hartford Steam Boiler investigates many claims in which scale build-up leads to leaks in boiler tubes. In one incident, the insured blamed a water treatment company for faulty treatment. A review found that some time before the incident, the insured had altered the feedwater train through the softeners. The softener piping was changed so that the units operated in series instead of in parallel. The only advantage gained by operating the units in series would be longer times between regenerations. However, since both beds would be spent, the system would have to be shut down completely for regeneration unless an adequate supply of condensate was available. Operating the softeners in series allowed the hardness into the system that contributed to the scale build-up.»more

The Human Factor in Equipment Failures

Outside factors can defeat any system. That’s why pre-planning and an appropriate response by operations personnel are important. In one case, serious damage resulted in the fire suppression system of a 27-story office building. The system consisted of a 2 hp jockey pump, 1,000 gallon per minute engine-driven fire pump, and the associated sprinkler piping, alarms and electrical controls. The fire pump was controlled by a pressure switch during normal operation. As the pressure in the fire protection system decreased, the jockey pump restored the system pressure to normal parameters. If the pressure continued to drop (signifying the possible actuation of the sprinkler system) the fire pump automatically actuated to deliver water to the building’s sprinkler system.»more

Poor Lighting, Sloppy Storage Result in Chiller Breakdown

Since air conditioning was extremely important to its business, a large department store had frequent scheduled maintenance performed on its equipment. A contractor spent a week completely tearing down the sole 450-ton centrifugal three-stage semi-hermetic chiller, checking tolerances, replacing bearings, oil, Freon®, and completing other required maintenance. Then the unit completely seized up just 45 minutes after restarting. »more

It Won’t Work If You Forget To Plug It In

The following claim shows that even state-of-the-art equipment is of little use unless basic steps are taken to make sure the system is operating properly.»more

Good Maintenance Includes Written Procedures and Records

The loss of two new compressors at a community college can help teach an important lesson. Don’t forget to check the entire system when replacing individual pieces of equipment, and keep written maintenance records to make the task easier. A lack of regular maintenance could spell even bigger trouble ahead.»more

Experienced Personnel Should Maintain Your Fire Protection System

While surveying an industrial plant, a Hartford Steam Boiler engineer noted that the pre-action sprinkler system valve had been turned off. The valve was protecting a fairly large building of wood construction. When the engineer asked the facility’s safety officer about the valve, he said he would check with another employee who was a retired firefighter. »more

Even New Transformers Need Oil and Gas Testing

A new transformer is not immune to problems. In fact, it has a higher potential for problems due to design flaws or manufacturing quality control.»more

Don't Tolerate Poor Repair Service(2)


Don’t Let Equipment Be the Cause of Slips, Trips and Falls

Among the many services provided by Hartford Steam Boiler are property-casualty surveys for other insurance carriers. And when HSB inspectors visit client locations, they may find conditions that could cause employees or customers to slip, trip or fall. It might be oil or other fluids leaking from machinery. Cables stretched across walkways. Water, grease or debris left on the floor. Spilled food and drinks in restaurants or grocery store aisles. Even potholes in the parking lot can create a hazard and lead to injuries, lost production and lawsuits. »more


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