Why Do Uninterruptible Power Systems Have Catastrophic Failures?

July 8, 2022 9:37 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The function of an uninterruptible power system (UPS) is to maintain conditioned electricity for a specific job for a specified time. Two types of jobs are engine starting and maintaining electronics such as computers. Several mistaken ideas about UPS can lead to future problems:

  • Once designed and installed, no maintenance is required
  • If the indicators on the UPS show no abnormalities, no further action is needed
  • As long as the indicators on the UPS show no problems, the batteries do not need to be changed
  • UPS once installed an install-and-forget-it appliance

The reliability of an uninterruptible power supply system is only as good as the scheduled maintenance is performed at routine intervals, including discharge testing in mission-critical applications. The planned replacement of batteries at reasonable durations must be included in the costs of the applications. However, it’s essential to understand why uninterruptible power systems have catastrophic failures.

1. UPS Fans

All UPS contain internal batteries to maintain power during a grid outage. The fans inside the UPS are used to cool the system and components while running. Over time, the bearings in the fan motors can degrade, causing the fan blades to rub against the housing. This can cause sparks that can ignite any nearby combustible material, leading to a fire.

2. Batteries

As UPS batteries age, they can develop leaks. These leaks can lead to corrosion of the battery terminals, which can eventually cause a short circuit. If the short course is not detected and corrected, it could lead to a fire. A majority of UPS systems tend to have 12-volt lead-acid batteries. These batteries must be recharged regularly to prevent degradation failure, leading to a shorter lifespan.

3. Component Failure

Any electrical component has the potential to fail. When this happens inside a UPS, it can cause an electrical fire. A failed power supply is one of the most common component failures. This is often caused by dirt or dust buildup, which prevents proper cooling and eventually causes the power supply to overheat and fail. Any component failure will have unwanted consequences, but a power supply failure is hazardous because it can cause an immediate loss of power to the connected devices.

4. Dirt and Dust

As with any electronic device, dirt and dust can cause problems if it builds up in the UPS. In addition to preventing proper cooling, which can lead to component failures, dirt and dust can also cause static discharge. This can damage sensitive electronic components, cause an UPS power failure, and potentially cause a fire.

5. Improper Installation

If a UPS is not installed correctly, it can lead to several problems, including fires. One issue that can arise is if the unit is not grounded properly. This can cause electrical shocks or surges that could damage the UPS or connected equipment. Another problem is if the UPS is not properly ventilated, causing the unit to overheat, leading to component failures or fires.


In short, uninterruptible power systems have catastrophic failures because of battery issues, component failures, dirt and dust buildup, and improper maintenance. To prevent these failures, it’s essential to maintain your UPS system and replace batteries as needed regularly. Contact Texford Battery Co. for more information on UPS maintenance.

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