• Common Issues with Transfer Switches and How to Fix Them

    by Curtis Leddy | August 29, 2022 | Automatic Transfer Switches Automatic Transfer Switches

    The whole point of a transfer switch is to make the process of switching your facility over to backup power automatic. That’s why it is incredibly frustrating when you have transfer switch issues. You’re dealing both with the loss of power from the grid and the failure of your backup system to take over or at least take over within a few seconds.

    What has caused your transfer switch to fail? And how can you fix it? In general, this is a problem for the professionals. Repairs should always be handled by a certified, licensed and experienced electrician, or you risk harm to not just the person trying the repairs but also everyone in the building and, less significantly but still importantly, damage to your equipment.

    While you shouldn’t attempt your repairs, it is still useful to know the common issues and how the professionals will fix them. It's empowering to better understand your equipment and have the terminology and understanding to ask your electrician your questions. So, here are common issues with your transfer switches and how to fix them.

    1. Tripped Breaker

    Power surges and overcurrents can trip the breaker which serves your transfer switch. When this breaker is tripped, your transfer switch cannot function properly. You should have your electrician check the breaker during the routine maintenance of the system.

    2. Corrosion from Moisture, Leaks

    Corrosion and shorts are commonly caused by exposure to moisture. Leaks, flooding, or just environmental moisture can damage your transfer switch and the wiring that serves it. You should check to ensure the transfer switch has proper environmental protections. After leaks or natural disasters, your entire electrical system should be checked, including the transfer switch.

    You should not approach any wet electrical equipment. Allow electricians to do this, as they know the proper safety protocol that needs to be followed in order for them to stay safe.

    3. Loose Connections from Dirt, Debris

    Dirt and debris may also get into the transfer switch or interfere with its connections if the switch and the area, in general, are not well-maintained or not properly protected. Loose connections can cause the transfer switch to fail. So, your electrician should clean the area out and then test the contacts. When necessary, he or she will tighten the contacts to ensure they carry current.

    4. Damage to the Controller

    Controllers are an essential and sensitive component of a transfer switch which may fail over time or become damaged. You may need to repair or replace the controller.

    5. ATS Issues

    If the transfer switch turned your backup generator back on but didn’t turn it back off, even after its normal cool-off period should have ended, the most likely problem is an issue with the ATS. This tells the transfer switch to turn back to utility power and shut down the backup generator.

    The ATS has had its own loose connections, or it may have been grounded somehow. In either case, an electrician can fix this problem.

    6. Overheating

    If your transfer switch was exposed to very high heat conditions, or it cycled too fast and created a great deal of heat itself, then it may burn out the solenoids or cause other serious heat damage. In this case, the transfer switch may stop working altogether. This issue usually requires replacement.

    7. Improper Installation

    If the transfer switch was installed recently and did not have the time to be tested before it was required, it is possible that the switch or some component of it was never installed properly in the first place. This is rare, but it does happen.

    Also, another rare issue may be that the transfer switch has a manufacturer’s defect that prevents its use. In this case, your electrician should be able to diagnose the issue for you and advise you as to warranty issues or speaking with the manufacturer about the problem.

    How Can You Avoid Transfer Switch Problems?

    There are many other potential issues that your transfer switch may develop, and repair and replacement may be expensive.

    Regular maintenance of your electrical system and regular testing of your backup supply, including your transfer switch, can ensure that it all operates properly and that you will have backup power when you need it.

    Contact us for all of your electrical generator system and transfer switch service, maintenance and testing needs.