The electrical panel is considered the heart of your home’s electrical system. It connects your home’s electrical system to the power lines from the utility company.
Sometimes it can be difficult differentiating problems that are directly related to your panel and those related to your overall wiring system. (Though they work together, the problems with each are generally independent of each other).
For clarity, we’ve compiled a list of 5 reasons why your panel might need to be updated or replaced. Be aware that any work done on the breaker box should be handled by a qualified electrician.
Signs You Should Replace or Upgrade the Electrical Panel
There are a few instances where you’ll want to replace your electrical panel as soon as possible. Learn how to locate your electrical panel.
If you have any of the following electrical panels, contact an electrician right away to diagnose the situation:
Outdated Electrical Panels
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) and Zinsco electrical panels were a very common choice from the 1950s to the 1980s. Unfortunately, as years passed, people started realizing that they weren’t functioning properly. Too often, the panels would fail to cut off power when there is a short circuit or too much current.
If your electrical panel does not properly trip when an electrical hazard is detected, a fire could start.
Outdated panels are any panels that are more than 30 years old. If you have an older panel, you may only have 60-amp electrical service as opposed to the 150 or 200-amp service of modern homes. Contact an electrician if your panel is over 20 years old.
If you experience a water leak near your electrical panel, keep away from the area and call an electrician immediately. If there is any evidence that the panel has been exposed to water (including rust stains or corrosion on the wiring), it will probably need to be replaced.
Every electrical panel has a maximum power rating – which dictates the amount of space for breakers. The original fuse panels offered 60 amps of power which were followed by the standard breaker panels at 100 amps. The recommended amount for modern builds and upgrades is 200 amps. If you are planning on a remodeling project or adding on to your home, you may need to replace your panel entirely.
If you are experiencing frequently tripping breakers, speak with an electrician about adding more power.
Poor installation can contribute to a number of problems that should be addressed in an electrical panel. Oversized breakers, circuits doubled-up on a single-pole breaker and wires crossing over the panel’s center are just a few problems that would require an update from an electrician.
Call an electrician right away if you notice:
- Buzzing sounds
- Smells of burning plastic or wires
- Overheating of wall plates, outlet covers, cords and plugs
- Sparks around any electrical item
Some electrical panels were simply manufactured with defects – sometimes these defects weren’t evident immediately. You might even own a panel that is on the “should be replaced” list. Problems with these faulty panels include breakers failing to trip, breakers that fall out of place and non-standard designs (resulting in improper installation).
If you live in an older home and are considering getting a new washer/dryer or other large appliance, you might need to add a dedicated circuit. As long as the electrical panel has the room for a new circuit, the process is relatively simple. In some cases, a subpanel may need to be installed.
Whenever you need help with your electrical panel or wiring system, call the professional electricians at OnTime Service. We can help with any panel issue from adding a new circuit to replacing the entire breaker box. Don’t compromise your comfort or your safety! You can rely on our licensed and qualified electricians to arrive on time in a fully stocked truck to handle all your electrical needs.
If you notice any of the items above, contact OnTime Service immediately. Even if you don’t notice any of these issues but still feel something is wrong, call us. You can never be too safe when it comes to electricity.
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Give OnTime Service a call to schedule your Birmingham-area electrical safety inspection at (205) 942-1405. Our experienced team of electricians is fully trained to handle any electrical system.