A Guide to Substation Preventive Maintenance Procedure Best Practices

What is Substation Preventative Maintenance?


As a substation owner, the thought of an expected power outage keeps you up at night. Customers depend on vital energy supply, investors expect their funding reimbursed, and you are unprepared for an upcoming audit.

Regular electrical substation preventative maintenance reduces the risk of catastrophic failure, allowing you to sleep soundly.

Substation maintenance inspections include testing, repairing and replacing vital substation equipment and schedule impending maintenance tasks via a preventative maintenance checklist.

Examples of these checks include:

  • General inspection and cleaning of mechanisms (transformers, motors, circuit breakers, batteries, transmission lines etc)
  • Measure equipment condition
  • Check oil and insulation liquid levels.
  • Correct torque settings.
  • Document asset data and record pressure gauges.
  • Test substations power output meter readings and create an inspection certificate.

Substation Preventative Maintenance Procedure Best Practices

Why is electrical substation preventative maintenance important?

“Substations are the most critical part of any electrical supply grid. A failure of a single piece of substation equipment can cause a total grid collapse which may take days or even longer to rectify. For this reason, substation care is one of the most important parts of any electrical department’s preventative maintenance schedule.” –  Wise Geek

According to a study by the US Energy Information Administration, US electricity customers experienced, on average, over eight hours of power interruptions in 2020. Regional blackout of the network power can lead to a catastrophic impact on vital services relying on a consistent electrical supply such as schools, hospitals and critical data servers.

Electrical Substation Preventative Maintenance Script Best Practices

Doble explains why with prolonged use of any asset, the operational maintenance costs increase. One best practice is to create a preventative maintenance script template that allows for planning, inspecting, predicting and actioning early signs of damage. Small problems are identified and resolved before escalating into major costly issues.

An effective preventative maintenance script can:

  • Prevent accidents caused by uncontrolled high transmission voltage.
  • Optimize asset efficiency.
  • Prevent negative publicity by reducing unplanned shutdowns.
  • Increase lifecycle and reliability of electrical equipment.

Download 60Hertz’s Substation Preventative Maintenance Template

Start identifying problems early and prevent the risk of substation failure.

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Avoid Common Maintenance Mistakes 

Do some days feel like groundhog day? Carrying out the same checks day-in-day-out, leaves you feeling on “auto-pilot”. However, the intricacy and dangerous voltage levels permit zero margin for error. Mistakes happen, but it is imperative to avoid these due to negligence, untrained technicians or miscommunication.

These mistakes are often overlooked:

  • Painting – flaky paint and exposed rust cause corrosion. At best this causes damage and downtime to expensive equipment and at worse, renders the power station inoperable.
  • Cleaning – Keep lines, mechanisms, fences and gates clear to prevent deterioration build-up. A clean, well-maintained site also helps deter intruders.
  • Cut the power – Some critical maintenance tests require temporary shutdown to be planned, avoiding disruptions for customers or budgeting surprises.
  • Use the correct parts – only use equipment supplied by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
  • Listen for unusual noises – Anything out of the ordinary should be captured and recorded. Loud or unexpected noises could be signs of malfunction of circuit breakers, transformers or power lines.
  • Call a professional – Invest in a knowledgeable workforce of trained technicians, encourage knowledge transfer and training to ensure correct maintenance operations.
“Utility maintenance staff know that conservation of energy is crucial to optimize the power flow and the system in place. As such, electrical reliability can only be enhanced if a company understands its energy management needs….So, for the reliability and safety of substations, the maintenance staff should be highly effective.
– USM Utility Service & Maintenance Inc. 

Mastering Preventative Maintenance with the Right Management Software

Like many electrical substations, paper-based maintenance has been working for you so far. However, industry expert Maynard Coulson illustrates the failings of accessing data across multiple teams:

“We had around 1,000 substations and 10 maintenance headquarters, and you had all these people keeping track of their own data and spreadsheets, and there was no communication between the groups. Nobody could get hold of all the data to make educated decisions.”

Upgrading to a Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) avoids damaged or missing critical asset data, improves communication across vast geographies and reviews data analytics from a single location to increase energy production and reduce maintenance costs.

Choosing the right CMMS involves finding a platform that mimics current operational procedures and allows for a smooth transition to digital maintenance.

60Hertz has designed and tested the most effective substation preventative maintenance software with a customizable forms feature to ensure integrity and longevity of critical substation assets and optimize energy production.

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