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Manual for

Maintenance of Distribution Transformers

Source: TQM activities of MeSEB, 2007-08

January 21, 2010

Meghalaya State Electricity Board


Source: TQM activities of MeSEB, 2007-08

A Distribution Transformer (DT) is utilized to step down the voltage from 11 KV to 0.433
KV/0.250KV so that the electrical power is usable for providing supply to the customers such as
domestic, commercial, industrial, LT, etc. A registered consumer expects uninterrupted power supply
because during the failure of power supply, all works be it domestic, official, commercial or industrial
comes to a standstill. Hence, transformer failure leads to consumer complaints and unnecessary
emergency for the Utility to restore the power supply. In urban areas, the reason for failure of power
supply due to failure of transformer is not too frequent, whereas in rural areas most of the power
failures are attributable to the failure of distribution transformers.

Failure of distribution transformers results in considerable revenue loss and entails heavy
expenditure for replacement.

This manual on DT maintenance and reduction of failure does not describe the engineering
know-how of prevention but ensures the use of these skills from the huge collective knowledge of our
vast human resources.

Reasons for failure of Distribution Transformers and the remedial measures thereof:
The reasons for failure of Distribution Transformers in both urban and rural areas are the following:
Sl Probable Causes Factors Remedial Measures
1. Overloading A) Absence of record on the A) Maintaining proper record of
loading of the transformer. the total number of consumers
B) Granting of load sanction along with the connected load.
without taking into account B) Maintaining proper record on loading
loading on the transformer. of the transformer.
C) Unauthorized usage/theft of C) DT metering (static).
power D) Augmentation of transformer or
construction of new sub-station.
E) Disconnection of illegal connections
2. Imbalance loading A) Absence of record on the A) Maintaining the record of the phase-
phase wise loading and regular load balance
B) loading of the transformer. accordingly
C) B) Improper service B) Service connection to be given from
connection to consumers the appropriate phase(s) only after
without taking into account taking proper shutdown
the phase load C) Phase conversion

D) Long single/two phase line.
3. Low transformer A) Leakage of oil A) Proper tightening of terminals and
oil level B) Theft of oil joints and replacement of loose/burnt
out gaskets
B) Proper sealing of valves
C) Use of REC valves
4. Low break Down A) Overheating of transformer. A) Augmentation of transformer or
Value (BDV) of B) Entry of moisture and construction of a new substation.
the transformer oil contaminants. B) Proper tightening of terminals and
and poor insulation C) Burnt out insulation in the joints.
resistance(IR) winding & core. C) Replacement of deteriorated gaskets.
Value D) Acidity formation due to the D) Replacement of cracked bushings.
combined effect of heat, E) Prompt replacement of deteriorated
dissolution of varnishes & silica gel & dirty oil in the breather.
cellulose. F) Periodical testing of oil.
E) Sludge formation due to G) Filtration/overhauling of transformer
continuous heating and oil as & when required after testing
thereby decomposition of the
insulation material which then
gets dissolved in the oil.
5. Poor earthing A) High soil resistivity of the A) Periodical checking of the soil
or absence of earth pit resistivity. Renovation of earth pit or
earthing B) Disconnected earth wire or making a new earth pit.
rusted earth wire. B) Periodical checking of earth
connections. Tightening of the terminal
6. Lightning A) High soil resistivity of the A) Periodical checking of the soil
earth pit resistivity. Renovation of earth pit or
B) Undersized loop, especially making a new earth pit.
from the conductor to the B) Usage of the appropriate size of
L.A. earthing loop
C) Disconnection earth wire and C) Periodical checking of earth wire
rusted earth wire. and earth connection.
D) Common earthing. D) Tightening of the terminal connections.
E) Absence of lightning E) Earthing loop of LAs is to be
arrestors / damaged lightning separate.
arrestors. F) Installation/ replacement of LAs
7. Improper or poor A) Loose connection A) Proper tightening of terminal
cable terminal B) Poor lugging connections.
B) Proper lugging and usage of
appropriate size of lugs.
8. Burning of A) Leakage of oil at terminals. A) Proper tightening of terminals and
transformer B) Short circuit between cables joints, and replacement of loose burnt
due to failure of insulation. out gaskets
C) Fire due to weeds/ jungles etc B) Regular check of the insulation of
C) Periodical cleaning of substation.
9. External short A) Long LT line span A) Erection of intermediary poles where
circuit B) Poor safety clearance. necessary.
C) Sagging of conductors. B) Place spacers where necessary and

D) Accumulation of dust on maintain safety clearance between
bushings. conductors.
E) Contact of the conductor with C) Maintain sag of conductors as per
trees / branches. standard.
D) Cleaning of bushings
E) Regular jungle clearing
10. Overrated fuses A) Non availability of rated A) Prompt requisition and procurement of
fuse. fuse.
B) Ignorance of the field staff on B) Training of staff on the purpose of
the appropriate ratings. fuse, correct size and implications of
C) Use of conductor as fuse overrating.
C) Discourage the use of conductor as
fuse wire
11. Flash over A) Absence of arcing horn or A) Proper fitting of arcing horns.
arcing horns are not fitted B) Periodical cleaning of bushings.
B) Dirty bushings
12. Lack of testing of A) Non availability of megger A) Each sub-division should have megger,
transformer and earth tester, filter machine, oil tong tester, and earth tester and each
sub-station testing kit. division should have an oil filter
equipments B) Absence of a routine for machine and oil testing kit.
testing. B) Testing schedule to be compiled and
C) Shortage of staff implemented.
C) Outsourcing of the testing.
13. Vandalism A) Unsecured sub-station A) Proper fencing and the gate(with lock
B) Lack of awareness among the if needed).
public B) Danger plate in the substation.
C) Public awareness through media and

From the table above it can be seen that the main factors which contribute to Distribution Transformer
failure are:

1. Non implementation of the construction standards.

2. Absence of records on number of consumers, loading and history of the sub-station.
3. Absence of a well prepared action plan for distribution transformer failure reduction.
4. Absence of inspection, testing and maintenance schedule and non-implementation thereof.
5. Absence of inspection, testing and maintenance record on every sub-station.
6. Irresponsibility and carelessness on the part of some personnel.
7. Absence of proper reporting and clear guidelines at different levels.
8. Shortage of staff.

Steps to be taken for Distribution Transformer Maintenance
1. Data collection & upkeep of database

a. Total number of DTs in the Division/Sub-division.

b. Monthly DT failure report in each sub-division. A separate report in a uniformly
prescribed format for each DT failure.
c. Weekly/Monthly interruption report in a sub-division.
d. HT feeder with sub-stations including the single line diagram showing line length and
sub-station capacity.
e. LT feeder single line diagram indication the line length.
f. Monthly record of consumer complaints and records of failure against each DT.
g. Computerization of database in uniformly prescribed formats throughout the board.

2. Inspection & Maintenance Schedule for Distribution Transformers:

Sl Inspection Items to be inspected Inspection notes Action required if inspection

frequency shows un-sactisfactory
1. Fortnightly (i) Dehydrating Check that air passages Clean air passages. If silica gel is
Breather are clear pink, change with spare.
Charge. The old charge may be
(ii) Oil Level in Check colour of active reactivated for use again.
Transformer agent (silica Gel) If oil level is low, top up with dry
Check transformer oil oil. Examine transformer for
(iii) Physical level leaks. If loose. Tighten: replace if
Condition cracked
2. Monthly (i) Connections (HT & LT Check tightness Tighten the terminal connections
terminals) Replace lugs if required
(ii) Explosion vent Check for cracks/ Replace the gasket
(iii) Diaphragm (Pressure Check for any oil
relief device) spillage
3. Quarterly Bushings Examine for cracks Clean or replace
and dirt deposits Tighten, if required
Check for external
4. Half yearly (i) Non oil Check for moisture Improve ventilation
conservator tank under cover Maintenance of breathers to be
transformer ensured
(ii) Cable boxes, gasket Inspect Take remedial measures
joints, gauges and general

paint work
5. Yearly (i) Oil in transformer Check for dielectric Oil filtration to restore quality of
strength Check for oil.
acidity and sludge
(ii)Earth resistance <I ohm Take suitable action if earth
resistance is high
3. Communication

a. Monthly meetings on DT maintenance among AEE/AE/JE and line staff.

b. Monthly/biomonthly meetings of CEOs with EEs and AEEs.
c. Quarterly meetings convened by the CE (Distribution) with the Zonal ACEs, ACE
(MM), CEOs & EEs.
d. Coordination with local dorbars on DT problems and pilferage.
e. Capacity building programs for different levels.


It has also been observed that one of the reasons for failure of distribution transformers is
the supply of sub-standard transformers, which is a result of improper vendor rating and lack of
routine test prior to dispatch by the manufacturer & issue for use. It is therefore proposed as
a. Vendors should be approved only after confirming the adequacy of the manufacturing &
testing facilities at the works.
b. Procurement should be on the guaranteed technical particulars and not necessarily L-I rate.
c. Routine tests should be observed at the works and the transformer should be tested prior to
issue for utilization.

4. Inspection & Maintenance of transformer and accessories within the sub-station and its

A. Overall Sub-station Inspection cum Maintenance Report.

(to be filled up by the concerned inspector viz. Lineman/ES/JE/AE/AEE)
a. Name of Sub-station
b. Code of Sub-station
c. Capacity of Transformer
d. Number of LT feeders
e. Date of inspection

Sl Items to be inspected Condition/Observations/Remarks

1 Physical condition of the transformer
2 DOs/Main switch/Cut-Out
3 LT feeders
4 Cable Lugs
5 Earthing, Earthing Leads, etc
6 Lightening Arrestor
7 Arching Horn
8 Transformer Bushing
9 Breather
10 Condition of silica gel
11 Radiator
12 Oil level
13 Oil leakage in any
14 HT Terminal
15 LT Terminal
16 Current (Amps) Peak Hours a. R-phase
b. Y-phase
c. B-phase
Off-Peak Hours a. R-phase
b. Y-phase
c. B-phase
a. HT-LT
17 I R Value b. HT-E
c. LT-E
18 Number of illegal consumers receiving supply from DT
19 Number of illegal consumers disconnected from the DT
20 General upkeep and overall cleanliness of substation
(weeds, litter, etc)

21 Fencing & gate of the substation
22 Danger plate
23 Others

B. Sub station premises:

Sl Items to be inspected during sub-station Inspection notes Action required if

No. maintenance work inspection shows un-
sactisfactory conditions
1. HT & LT Fuses
2. LAs
3 Earthing
4. DOs Main switch, Cut out
5. Cleanliness of sub-station
6. Checking of sub-station station loading
by tong tester or DT metering

C. HT /LT Lines in the proximity of the substation:

Sl Items to be inspected during sub-station Inspection notes Action required if

maintenance work inspection shows un-
sactisfactory conditions
1. Condition of HT/LT Poles including
stay wire
2. Span of LT lines/need for LT spacers
3. Whether poles are covered with creepers
4. Whether HT/LT Lines are having
minimum clearance from trees/branches
5. Whether illegal connection like
hooking, illegal service connection are
present or not
6. Likely cause of failure due to nearby HT


Signature/seal of person(s) inspecting

Compiled by HRD Centre MeSEB,Umiam