Over the past several months, power problems have plagued the people working in the administrative offices. The most common complaint is nuisance breaker tripping. People have also reported “static shock” from various surfaces such as the sink in the coffee pot area. In addition, a rep from a major customer account complained about “a nasty shock” from a photocopy machine.

What are some things you should look for in order to resolve these problems?

Office workers commonly bring small loads from home. A novelty clock is not a big deal in itself, but multiply one small load by the number of people in an office, and the cause of a breaker overload grows less mysterious.

One problem people run into when “gadgetizing” their offices or cubicles is they “can't plug in.” Thus, they start adding one surge strip after another, daisy-chaining them into a maze that turns protective devices into a collective fire hazard.

In winter, people sometime bring in space heaters and electric holiday decorations. The already compromised system suffers further compromise.

With the holidays now behind and warmer weather now ahead, this problem may appear to clear up on its own as the nuisance trips stop happening. Nevertheless, the fire hazard remains. Work with HR to address the misuse of surge strips.

What about those shocks? This problem is coincidental to the nuisance trips. People may now be reporting problems formerly attributed to static electricity because of other complaints about electrical problems. Make sure you don't have “separate ground” for any load side equipment. Per Art. 250, Part V, bond all non-current carrying metallic objects for equipotential.