If you ever wonder why we start losing our minds even during a five-minute power outage, it’s because the modern world is hugely dependant on electrical energy. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how our ancestors fared without all the advantages of electricity. It simply makes all aspects of life way easier, which is why countries invest millions in supplying households and industries with reliable energy.
Power transformers are vital participants in electrical distribution, so it’s easy to understand why we need them to be up and running 24/7. Whether it’s a switchyard or a substation, we need these components to operate at a high level, which can sometimes become a problem due to oil leakage.
And what does oil have to do with power transformers, exactly? Simply put, this so-called dielectric oil is an electrical insulator serving to reduce heat generated by the high-voltage transformer. As the leaking of this substance can be dangerous for the safety of your premises and the environment, you need fast and cost-effective action to repair it.
Whenever there’s an oil leak, there’s nothing inside the transformer to dissipate the temperature. This can result in low-quality power supply. As you might expect, it also damages the solid insulation, aging it a lot faster. Not to mention gases like nitrogen and oxygen that might sneak in and damage the oil or moisture that shortens the transformer’s lifespan.
A Fire Hazard
Oil-filled transformers can pose a severe threat to the environment if you neglect their malfunctions long enough. It’s because they contain quite a bit of oil; add the high voltage elements inside, and you get a deadly mix. After the oil stops being dielectric, it vaporizes; this gas, unable to expand because of the inertia, is under pressure. Gradually, you get increasing static pressure inside the tank that can result in tank explosion and fire.
Fortunately, you can protect the transformer by way of depressurization. This method expels the mixture of oil and gas, quickly returning the situation to normal. While these horror stories are relatively rare, they serve as a reminder just how hazardous a faulty transformer can be. Fires can cause colossal material and human damage, so it’s crucial to undertake all measures to prevent such disasters.
Recognizing the Symptoms
You don’t have to be a seasoned electrical engineer to spot a transformer leak. All you need to do is observe the components closely and look for signs common for most power transformers. This way, you’ll be able to help the repairmen diagnose the issue much sooner. Click here for more.
For instance, there’s the characteristic loud screeching coming from the inside. It’s pretty unnerving but helpful at the same time once you know what causes it. Then you have the issue of abnormal heating. If the temperature’s too high under normal conditions, lasting for a longer time, it might be a sign of oil leakage. Visually speaking, you can notice the oil spraying through the safety valve or leaking through the oil tank. Another telltale sign is a change of the oil color.
There are things you can do to ensure good transformer maintenance. First and foremost, you should check the temperature to see if it’s normal. If it’s warmer or colder, you’ll see it in the oil level gauge (the device showing the level or remaining oil.) A great test to check if it needs replacement is using a magnet and seeing if it rotates, provided it’s a magnetic model.
We mentioned noise previously. Although this symptom is more typical for dry-type transformers, it can help you with their oil-filled counterparts as well. Usually, the cooling system, coils, or the transformer core will be the primary sources of noise. Yet another helpful technique is to compare current and lead voltage with the rated figures.
Dealing With the Issue
Now, perhaps you’re wondering whether there fixing these kinds of leaks requires a DIY solution. The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because you are certain things you can do in cases of minor draining, and no, because more advanced methods of sealing need the attention of an experienced professional team.
One possible approach is to use an adhesive to fix a drain. A high-quality glue is, in fact, very effective, though it may seem like an amateur solution at first. The best thing is that you work on transformer repairs without turning the whole thing off. Next, the adhesion has durability and great elasticity, and it can endure harsh weather conditions. Typically, these minor repairs take up only a few minutes.
Actually, there’s one more thing you can do: buy a great transformer. This is probably harder than it sounds – there’s a variety of choices on the market, so you’ll need to study up a little if you want to get your money’s worth. An ideal transformer would be one with no leakage flux, iron loss, and equal output and input power. Of course, there is no such thing in reality, but certain models come pretty close and are worth investing in.
Typically, the choice comes down between dry type and oil-filled transformers. The former are larger and less efficient; they have limited voltage and high electrical losses. On the other hand, oil transforms are not as large, but they’re more efficient. Also, they leave a smaller footprint, making the environment a safer place. That being said, dry-type is easier to maintain, and it’s much more resistant to contaminants, whereas oil requires frequent testing to check if it’s polluted.
Playing it Smart
You should look at oil leak sealing as a temporary repair. It won’t magically turn your transformer into a brand new component, but it will do an excellent job until it’s time for a permanent intervention, perhaps even replacement. A reputable provider will present you with a transparent and precise financial plan for the repair service beforehand. Re-gasketing and oil filtering cost thousands of dollars, so make sure you know who hire the right people.