Wow. Loose connections…now that’s a “loose” term if ever there was one!
Connection problems are indeed responsible for many non-functioning electronics of all sorts.
Note the key words are connection problems because the problem may very well NOT be looseness at all. So step away from the torque wrench or worse-yet the screwdriver.
What seems like a “loose” connection could be just that, but electronic problems are more often the result of bad connections caused by:
- Oxidation of contacts
- Corrosion of contacts
- Dirty contact surfaces
- Cross threading
- Wrong bolt or screw
- Wrong connection sizes
- Broken conductor stands away from the fitting
Tightening the connections in any of the above scenarios will not fix the problem and may make it worse. Connections that are disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled have a higher repair success rate.
It should also be noted that tightening connections as part of regular maintenance can often be the cause of problems, not the cure.
Truly loose connections result in higher resistances creating excess heat, one of the biggest causes of electrical fires.
Loose, under load terminals result in arcing which damages the threads and causes microscopic pitting. Then, even if the terminal screw is retightened, it will not properly compress the conductor and will reseat only to the point where the damage occurred. You still end up with overheating and inoperative equipment, or maybe even a fire.
Equation: Clean contact surfaces and the proper exertion of force and pressure = good connections.
If you are sure that your connection(s) need tightening, always use a torque wrench with appropriate torque values as set by the manufacturer or codes to avoid over-tightening.
How often should you inspect connections? If your shop is clean, climate-controlled and reasonably vibration free, once a year. A dirty, high vibration shop should have more frequent inspections.
For most shops, sending your printed circuit boards and other industrial electronics to an expert for electronic repair and inspection is the way to go.
At ACS, our techs do it all day every day. After being repaired and inspected, your entire unit, not just the connections, will also be under warranty for one year. Check out our website at www.acsindustrial.com or call our customer service team at 800-605-6419 for assistance.