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Burning smells - indication of trouble

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Engineering Articles

Burning Smells - Indication of Trouble

By: Thomas Yoon

What's that burning smell?

If you are running machinery, you will be asked this sooner or later. Machines produce heat. And heat produces burning smells. It's as simple as that! I am sure many of us can sense that something is not right when we smell burning. After all burning means overheating. Machines are not meant to overheat. But sometimes they do.

Questions ... questions ...

How to tackle this?

Is it from the electrical source, or the mechanical source? Is there an overload in the electrical circuits? Is there a loose electrical connection somewhere? How about mechanical? Are the moving parts lubricated well? Does the lubrication oil take the heat away?

Questions…and more questions ... But that is the way to troubleshoot. The more questions you ask, the better you are at arriving at the solution. You look at the problem from all angles.

Give it a try! Ask questions, and more questions ...

Remember, you have 5 senses to help you. Human beings are blessed with the sense of smell, sight, touch, hearing, and taste to help them make deductions and survive in the world.

In this case the sense of smell puts you on the alert - there's a burning smell. But where is it? Use your eyes to look. Unless you have myopia, very often, you should be able to see the source of the burning smell.

But sometimes the burning smell has already been carried over a wide area and there is no smoke to help you pinpoint the exact location of the fault ...

Well, use your sense of touch to feel. Which machine is hotter? But at the same time, listen for any abnormal sounds that tell you that a machine is crackling all over, whistling, popping or exploding on burning oil or insulation materials! Come nearer, use your nose again to confirm the source of the burning smell.

So far, you have used 4 senses - smell, sight, touch, hearing ... Do you want to taste and see? Probably not, unless it is an edible oil like butter or margarine.

Most important of all - use your Head. Unfortunately, nobody can teach you how to use it. But one thing is for sure - the more you use it, the better it becomes.

Then, you have to decide for yourself whether you have enough information to act or to run.

Through sufficient learning experiences, your brains might tell you whether the indication of trouble can cool off soon or whether it will escalate and it is time to run for your life. The whole machine might even explode!

Then, it's time to use your sixth sense ... Trust your feelings in your heart! If you feel uneasy, RUN!

Until next time…. Happy troubleshooting!


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