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Switchgear investigation at Shetland Islands School - case studyJuly 2008

The challenge

The Anderson High School in Lerwick is the main secondary school for the Shetland Islands with over 950 pupils. A routine inspection of the main electrical switchroom revealed that unusually, the actual switchgear seemed to have a significant amount of condensation on it.

In a building where risks could not be taken, the electrical supply was switched off, the school closed down and the children sent home. The cause had to be located quickly and resolved.

The solution

As BSRIA Members, Shetland Islands Council was able to contact BSRIA engineers to discuss the scenarios that could be causing the unusual problem. BSRIA suggested a series of checks, identifying the most likely causes first.

Using a Flir Systems E45 thermal imaging camera, purchased from BSRIA Intrument Solutions, Council engineers checked around the switchgear. The well underneath, where all the cables entered, was identified as 5°C hotter than the surrounding areas. It was quickly diagnosed that very warm and moist air was flowing up through the relatively cold switchgear causing the condensation.

Checks on the heating systems, specifically the make up arrangements, suggested that the heating mains were leaking. Again, the thermal imaging camera was used pinpoint the leak which was identified where the heating mains crossed the electrical ducting in a position not shown on any drawings. The leak was rapidly isolated; the switchgear properly dried out and put back into use.

The benefits

Using the BSRIA Members' technical enquiry service helped to:

- understand the most likely causes of the problem
- investigate potential scenarios quickly and safely
- quickly identify the problem and take remedial action
- prevent costly and dangerous failure
- re-open the school with the risk averted

For more information about the benefits of membership contact BSRIA:

tel: +44 (0) 1344 465600



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