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Maintenance, UPS

Recommended UPS Maintenance Schedule

You tender a request for vacation weeks or even months in advance; highlight upcoming appointments on the calendar; and share your daily availability with everyone in the organization — right down to the hour. But are you devoting the same level of care and planning to your UPS maintenance schedule?

If you aren’t sure exactly what needs to be done and when, you’re not alone. Yet it’s important to understand that a UPS is not a device you can simply stick in a corner and forget. An effective maintenance strategy — targeting both the overall UPS and its batteries —is critical to your system’s ongoing reliability and performance. The type of batteries will also determine the level and frequency of service; for instance, most smaller UPS’s use sealed batteries that require little maintenance, while other models utilize flooded-cell batteries that require monthly attention.

While some basic maintenance tasks — such as visual inspections — can be performed by in-house staff, the majority of service necessitates a trained technician from a professional service organization, both for the expertise required and also to ensure personnel safety. Here is an overview of our recommended UPS maintenance schedule:

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Monthly

At least once a month, assign a competent staff member to:

  • Conduct a visual inspection of the UPS, making sure the overall environment is clean and free of dust and debris
  • Inspect and test the room’s ventilation system to ensure its proper operation
  • Inspect batteries for proper electrolyte levels and signs of leaks
  • If a battery monitoring system is in place, review the results
  • Measure the ambient temperature
  • Measure the battery float charging current
  • If a generator is part of the building’s emergency-power system and feeds the UPS, it should be tested monthly

Quarterly

On a quarterly basis, it is important for a qualified service technician to:

  • Visually inspect equipment for loose connections, burned insulation or any other signs of wear
  • Measure the voltage of each cell or battery block
  • Measure the ambient temperature and negative-post temperature of at least 10 percent of the cells or battery blocks (if possible, check all cells)

Semi-annually

Twice a year, a trained technician should:

  • Inspect and repair battery connections as needed, since loose or dirty connections can cause a buildup of heat at the battery terminals — decreasing system capacity, reducing battery life and creating potential fire hazards
  • Visually check for liquid contamination from batteries and capacitors
  • Clean and vacuum UPS equipment enclosures
  • Test the UPS’s overall operation

Annually

During this important yearly checkup, depending on your equipment type and requirements, expect a technician to:

  • Take the system offline and inspect its components for signs of corrosion and heat damage
  • Conduct thermal scans on electrical connections using a diagnostic tool that identifies hot spots invisible to the human eye
  • Load-test the battery bank to determine its capacity, which may require disconnecting the UPS from its power source and allowing the batteries to supply power to the connected load
  • Remove dirt and dust from UPS components
  • Measure and check the torque of all connections, re-torqueing any power connections as needed
  • Provide a complete operational test of the system, including a monitored battery-rundown test to determine if any battery strings or cells are near the end of their useful lives, an AC ripple current and interconnecting cable resistance testing
  • For flooded-cell batteries, the technician should:
    • Inspect terminals for signs of corrosion and accumulation of dirt
    • Measure and record the voltage and current of the entire bank
    • Measure and record the voltage for each individual cell and test their electrolytes
    • Record and log measurements to track battery performance

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Maintenance, UPS

10 Truths About UPS Maintenance

Research has repeatedly proven that regular maintenance of uninterruptible power systems (UPSs) is one of the most successful and cost-effective tactics to ensuring their ongoing optimal performance. For optimal results, be advised of the following 10 certainties when it comes to your service approach:

1. UPS components will eventually fail. Yes, even the highest quality UPS operating at the optimal temperature in an environment with perfectly clean power will nonetheless fail at some point.

All UPS’s have certain finite components — such as batteries, capacitors and fans — that simply wear out from normal use. That’s why…

2. You need to schedule maintenance. And by schedule, we mean put it in ink, on the calendar, well in advance.

Studies have shown that the mean time between failures (MTBF) is more than 20 times better for UPSs that receive preventive maintenance (PM) twice a year compared to those that don’t.

Yet PMs can’t be left to chance, especially considering the potential costs of downtime.

Sticking to a predetermined timetable of regular maintenance activities helps ensure your UPS will perform as expected when you need it most (to find out exactly what should be completed on a quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis, be sure to check out our next blog).

3. Preventive maintenance improves ROI. Regular, pre-scheduled UPS maintenance can easily pay for itself by preventing unplanned downtime events.

This can be attributed to the fact that a trained technician has the ability to detect and repair a plethora of issues — from battery or capacitor failures to clogged air filters to outdated firmware — before they become significant and costly issues.

4. Batteries require their own care. As the most vulnerable part of a UPS, batteries are among the leading causes of load loss.

Understanding how to properly maintain and manage UPS batteries will not only help extend their overall service life, but also reduce costly downtime (we have an upcoming blog covering this topic, as well!).

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5. It’s always safety first. When it comes to electrical power, one teeny blooper can result in serious injury or even death.

With that in mind, it’s critical that safety remains your No. 1 priority when performing any type of service on a UPS.

Be sure to observe all manufacturer recommendations, pay close attention to your facility’s implementation details, and always adhere to standard safety guidelines.

6. You don’t have to be a UPS whiz. Many, if not most aspects of UPS maintenance, are best left to those who are intimately familiar with the devices.

For instance, considering that the voltage inside a UPS system registers at a lethal level, it is completely understandable (and justified) to allocate funds for a professional service organization.

Don’t risk lives.

7. Know who you’re going to call. If a UPS problem does arise, quick response can mean the difference between inconvenience and disaster.

During an emergency, don’t be left scrambling to find a service technician.

Instead, right now, while everything is still performing perfectly, identify a reputable service provider that will be available when you need them — even if that ends up being two in the morning.

Keep all numbers for maintenance and repair in a readily accessible, well-known location.

8. Stop, look and listen. Even if you leave primary UPS maintenance up to the professionals, you can still complete basic inspections yourself.

For example, regularly examine the area around the UPS to make sure there are no obstructions or operating warnings on the panel.

Visually inspect the batteries for signs of corrosion or other defects, and keep your ears pealed for any unusual rattling or other sounds coming from the UPS.

9. Retain records. Be sure to maintain records of all maintenance performed on the UPS, including cleanings, repairs and replacements.

This documentation can help down the line when planning for equipment replacement, additional maintenance needs, or troubleshooting if an issue arises.

Just like your contact numbers, keep records in a handy spot.

10. Don’t throw away your UPS documentation. It’s always wise to consult the manufacturer’s documentation for recommendations for your specific unit.

This paperwork is also likely to include an overview of the type of maintenance that should be performed on the UPS at specific intervals.

Consider these guidelines to be the minimum approach; when it comes to UPS preventive maintenance, more is always better.

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

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Maintenance, UPS

5 Reasons To Say Yes To UPS Preventative Maintenance

In recent blogs, we have detailed the numerous vulnerabilities of uninterruptible power systems (UPS’s), as well as their most common causes of failure.

Although there are a multitude of factors threatening to reduce the lifespan of your power protection solution, there’s also an amazingly simple way you can help ensure optimal UPS performance while minimizing the risks of downtime: regular preventive maintenance (PM).

Because PM visits provide the opportunity to detect and repair potential problems before they become significant and costly issues, they are crucial to achieving maximum performance from your equipment. In fact, studies show that routine PM significantly reduces the likelihood of UPS-induced downtime.

One study revealed that customers who don’t engage in PM are almost four times more likely to experience a UPS failure than those who complete the recommended two preventive maintenance visits per year.

Here are five reasons you need to pencil PM visits onto your calendar:

Prevent battery failure. While bad batteries rank as the top cause of UPS failure, the good news is that regular inspection can almost always predict it.

Semi-annual preventative maintenance visits include visual inspection, thermal image scans and even testing with state-of-the-art battery analyzers systems, which check impedance, AC ripple and other factors to determine battery health.

Trained technicians can then assess results and help determine if a battery string is failing, then provide a recommendation on when batteries should be replaced.

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

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Identify impending component problems. Batteries aren’t the only source of potential catastrophe within a UPS.

During a PM visit, a technician will also examine and test a long list of other internal components, including fans, capacitors, internal connections, air filters, power supplies, contactors and relays.

Hone in on detrimental environmental factors. Sometimes it’s beneficial to obtain a bigger-picture view, as issues that contribute to poor power quality aren’t always internal to your UPS.

For instance, poorly designed or maintained electrical infrastructure and even dirty facility environments can result in thousands of dollars per year in wasted energy.

By contracting with a solutions provider for preventive maintenance, you gain the expertise of a skilled technician who is trained at identifying larger issues, such as inefficient equipment and dangerous environmental conditions.

These solutions providers can then offer appropriate facility-level recommendations. 

Assess generator performance. Designed to be a secondary source of power, generators must also be properly maintained to ensure they respond as expected when they are needed.

Like UPS’s, the most common cause of a generator failure is its battery.

Although not included in a UPS service call, generator inspection is critical to maintaining facility infrastructure and mission-critical loads.

Regular testing will also ensure the generator is properly sized, configured and maintained to support the UPS and infrastructure.  

Minimize downtime. Although regular PM visits will go a long way toward ensuring continuous up-time and safeguarding equipment, the fact is, power anomalies do occur — and a fast response is key to thwarting disaster.

There’s no substitute for having a reliable, experienced UPS service provider on speed dial; one who will not only react quickly in the event of an emergency, but who is also familiar with your equipment and facility.

This relationship can be fundamental to minimizing disruption and restoring business operations.

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

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Maintenance, UPS

5 Qualities To Seek In A Power Quality Service Provider

Obtaining regularly scheduled service is one of the most successful and cost-effective approaches to ensuring the ongoing optimal performance of your critical power quality equipment.

And for companies operating aging infrastructure, these routine checkups are even more vital.

Research indicates that regular preventive maintenance (PM) can also appreciably reduce the likelihood of downtime, as it affords the opportunity to detect and repair potential problems before they become significant and costly issues.

However, when it comes to deciding on who will perform maintenance and repairs, it’s important to understand that all service providers are not created equal.

Before you trust just anyone to look under the hood of your critical equipment, consider a provider who demonstrates the following five qualities:

Solid Reputation. Seek an experienced company that specializes in working on UPS’s and power- related equipment, and make sure the firm is proficient with your specific brand(s) of equipment.

Request references from existing customers and contact them to gauge their satisfaction.

The best service companies will not only strive to maximize equipment efficiency, but also to build long-term, trusting relationships with their customers.

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

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Highly skilled technicians. Look for a company whose technicians are prepared to service any type of critical power equipment, no matter the age or product line.

Familiarity with various brands of UPS equipment — including manufacturers that are no longer active in the industry — ensures that technicians will be equipped to handle a wide range of service issues.

Ongoing Training. Displaying initial proficiency isn’t enough; the only way technicians remain that way is with regular, ongoing training.

As power quality products and technologies evolve and change, service companies must also keep pace.

Look for a provider who requires its technicians to attend manufacturers’ factory training sessions to ensure comprehensive knowledge on various UPS lines.

Annual internal training should focus on a broad spectrum of topics and be delivered through a combination of classroom, hands-on, and even online courses.

Dedicated Account Manager. Having a single point of contact with your service organization helps keep your site on track.

Your representative should coordinate all preventative maintenance and emergency service, track your equipment and replacement dates, and serve as the point person during any emergency incident.

An account manager should also work with you to develop a proactive service plan that will ultimately help you achieve long-term savings.

Emergency Response. There’s nothing that tests the reliability of a service provider like a frantic call during an unplanned downtime event.

Your service organization should not only answer that call regardless of the time of day (or night), but furnish representatives who are qualified to troubleshoot over the phone to try to resolve the issue.

If the emergency cannot be remedied, prompt on-site response time is essential.

Furthermore, easy and quick access to replacement parts is crucial for unplanned repairs, so make sure your service provider maintains a well-stocked warehouse (including discontinued and rare parts) and the ability to have components on the way to your facility in a matter of minutes when necessary.

Wondering just how vulnerable your power protection solution is? In the final installment of this series, Unified Power will break down the most common causes of UPS failures and what you can do to avoid them.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Education, Maintenance, UPS

The Risks of Owning Aging Infrastructure

In the wake of the Delta Air Lines outage, IT professionals across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t their network crashing and sparking a disaster of global proportions.

But in most instances, that sense of gratitude was immediately followed by a firing squad of critical reflection:  Exactly how old are our systems? When is the last time I tested our backup solution? Did I ever schedule that preventive maintenance visit? Could that same type of disaster strike MY organization?

The devastation that can result from aging infrastructure is one of the most significant lessons underscored by Delta’s downtime incident, in which a piece of failed switchgear was attributed to more than 2,100 flights being canceled over a multiple-day period.

The airline’s turbulence came on the heels of a similar outage just weeks earlier, when a faulty network router forced Southwest to cancel 2,000+ flights.

While neither the precise monetary losses nor the potential reputation damage have been assessed for either airline, both are likely to continue soaring in the skies.

But how well would your organization fare from a crisis that disrupted operations?

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Consider the fact that more than 40 percent of all companies that experience such a disaster never again reopen their doors for business.

North American businesses lose $26.5 billion each year due to IT downtime and data recovery, according to data collected by Forsythe FOCUS magazine.

Aging infrastructure is a common source of these downtime events, as many legacy sites built during the boom of the late 90s and early 2000s are approaching — or have already passed — the 20-year mark.

As a result, they face issues such as insufficient capacity, wear and tear, end of life, and inadequate power and cooling.

Coupled with the continuous trends to increase power density while reducing energy costs, and the expense of constructing new facilities, a growing number of organizations are left trying to squeeze additional life out of their existing equipment.

In most cases, newer hardware has been added as technology has evolved, but the underlying infrastructure is still decades old, which tends to complicate overall management while impacting performance and security.

Yet the prospect of completely replacing aging infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals.

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

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