Quantcast Maintenance of Relays

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The relay is one of the most dependable electromechanical devices in use, but like any other mechanical or electrical device, relays occasionally wear out or become inoperative. Should an inspection determine that a relay is defective, the relay should be removed immediately and replaced with another of the same type. You should be sure to obtain the same type relay as a replacement.

Relays are rated in voltage, amperage, type of service, number of contacts, and similar characteristics. Relay coils usually consist of a single coil. If a relay fails to operate, the coil should be tested for open circuit, short circuit, or short to ground. An open coil is a common cause of relay failure.

During preventive maintenance you should check for charred or burned insulation on the relay and for darkened or charred terminal leads. Both of these indicate overheating, and the likelihood of relay breakdown. One possible cause for overheating is that the power terminal connectors are not tight. This would allow arcing at the connection.

The build-up of film on the contact surfaces of a relay is another cause of relay trouble. Although film will form on the contacts by the action of atmospheric and other gases, grease film is responsible for a lot of contact trouble. Carbon build-up which is caused by the burning of a grease film or other substance (during arcing), also can be troublesome. Carbon forms rings on the contact surfaces and as the carbon rings build-up, the relay contacts are held open.

When current flows in one direction through a relay, a problem called "cone and crater" may be created at the contacts. The crater is formed by transfer of metal from one contact to the other contact, the deposit being in the shape of a cone. This condition is shown in figure 3-25(A).

Figure 3-25. - Relay contacts.

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Some relays are equipped with ball-shaped contacts and, in many applications, this type of contact is considered superior to a flat surface.

Figure 3-25(B) shows a set of ball-shaped contacts.

Dust or other substances are not as readily deposited on a ball-shaped surface.

In addition, a ball-shaped contact penetrates film more easily than a flat contact. When you clean or service ball-shaped relay contacts, be careful to avoid flattening or otherwise altering the rounded surfaces of the contacts, YOU could damage a relay if you used sandpaper or emery cloth to clean the contacts. Only a burnishing tool, shown in figure 3-26 should be used for this purpose.

Figure 3-26. - Burnishing tool.

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You should not touch the surfaces of the burnishing tool that are used to clean the relay contacts. After the burnishing, tool is used, it should be cleaned with alcohol.

Contact clearances or gap settings must be maintained in accordance with the operational specifications of the relay. When a relay has bent contacts, you should use a point bender (shown in figure 3-27)to straighten the contacts. The use of any other tool could cause further damage and the entire relay would have to be replaced.

Figure 3-27. - Point bender.

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Cleanliness must be emphasized in the removal and replacement of covers on semi sealed relays. The entry of dust or other foreign material can cause poor contact connection. When the relay is installed in a position where there is a possibility of contact with explosive fumes, extra care should be taken with the cover gasket. Any damage to, or incorrect seating of the gasket increases the possibility of igniting the vapors.

Q.27 How can you determine if a relay is operating (changing from one position to the other)? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.28 What items should be checked on a relay that is not operating properly?
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Q.29 What is used to clean the contacts of a relay?
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Q.30 What tool is used to set contact clearances on a relay?
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