Whether your electrical panel — also called a breaker box — is located in the kitchen, bedroom, or garage, it’s a part of the home that’s rarely on our minds until it causes trouble. Maybe you even cover yours with creative home décor to disguise it! But, there are some signs that it’s time to pay attention to that electrical panel, and possibly even call a professional electrician to replace it.
10 Signs You Should Replace Your Electrical Panel
1. You Want to Install More Outlets in Your Home
Your electrical panel supplies a certain amperage amount to your home based on the needs of the home when the panel was installed. If you’re planning on doing any home improvements that include adding more outlets, you should have an electrician inspect your electrical panel to ensure you’ll have enough electricity running to those outlets! It may be time to upgrade your electrical panel if the amperage is too low to support the additional outlets.
2. You’re Installing or Upgrading Large Appliances
Adding new large appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators could require more power than your electrical panel currently provides. Installing a new A/C unit sometimes includes replacing the electrical panel because air conditioning units draw varying amounts of power depending on age, size, and efficiency. It’s best to have an electrician test your current electrical panel to let you know if it will provide the amperage your new appliance will need so you can avoid drawing too much power from the panel and overloading the circuit every time it turns on.
3. Circuit Breakers Are Tripping Frequently
Have you gotten used to the routine of walking to your breaker box to reset a breaker? It’s probably time to upgrade that electrical panel. If your power goes out in part of your house when you use multiple appliances at the same time, it’s most likely because there’s not enough power flowing to that area from your electrical panel. Flipping your breakers back to the “On” position is only a temporary fix. The problem will most likely happen again when the circuit is overloaded the next time. An electrician will be able to tell you if your wiring or breaker box is due for an upgrade to solve the issue.
4. Burning Smells & Electrical Odors
This is a serious one. Electrical fires are extremely common dangers of an outdated and overloaded electrical panel. If you smell burning, it means an electrical fire could occur at any moment. Make sure to call an electrician for emergency services to diagnose & solve the source of the electrical burning smell. It’s likely that you will need a new electrical panel.
5. Buzzing Sounds Coming from the Breaker Box
You shouldn’t ignore any abnormal smells or sounds coming from your electrical panel. At the very least, a buzzing sound in the electrical panel should be inspected by an electrician. It can indicate that the electricity is not flowing properly which can become a fire risk. It’s possible that this is caused by a wiring issue, but an old or faulty electrical panel could also be the problem.
6. Lights are Flickering or Dimmer than Usual
Do your lights flicker when you use your blender or hair dryer? If lights are flickering or dimming when you use electricity in another area of the room, it is a sign that your electronics and your lights require more electricity than your electrical panel can provide. While these issues are frustrating to live with, the solution is simple – you need an electrical panel upgrade!
7. You Have a Fusebox or a Discontinued Electrical Panel Brand
Circuit breaker panels began to replace fuse boxes in the 1960s. So, if you live in an older home and still have to replace fuses when your electrical panel is overloaded, it is definitely time to upgrade to a newer electrical panel. Fuses can present a fire risk due to outdated safety regulations and may even become an issue with your insurance company in the case of a fire.
Some electrical panel brands have been discontinued and recalled due to fire safety hazards and other concerns. You may run into a problem with your home owner’s insurance if a house fire is caused by a discontinued electrical panel. Here at Air & Energy, we install Siemens electrical panels. We consider Siemens to be one of the safest electrical panels available. Using an outdated or discontinued electrical panel means breakers may not to trip when they need to, which is extremely dangerous. We’ve seen this happen at our customers’ homes and it has caused house fires. If your home is still using any of these brands, we strongly recommend calling an electrician to upgrade to a safer model:
- Federal Pacific (FPE)
8. It’s Just Too Old
If you’re living in an older home, you could be living with an electrical panel from before the time of smart-refrigerators and other impressive home electronics. The National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires electrical panels to provide at least 100-amps. Older homes with circuit breaker panels older than 20 years may still be working on a 60-amp electrical panel. The lifespan of a circuit breaker panel is about 25-30 years, so if you have an older panel you should definitely monitor it for signs of aging and consider replacement. Exactly how long your electrical panel will last depends on what it’s been through. That includes power surges, rust, corrosion, moisture, and physical damage. Our electricians can perform a panel inspection to diagnose any issues with your panel.
9. It’s Just Too Small
The National Electrical Code (NEC) minimum of 100-amps may be enough power for a small home, but medium-sized homes with plenty of up-to-date appliances will likely require a panel with an amperage of up to 150-amps. Even larger homes may require 200- to 400-amps from the electrical panel. If you’re having electrical issues, our electricians will be able to tell you if your electrical panel is just not providing enough power for your home. You can find the amperage of your electrical panel on the main breaker to get an idea of what you’re working with!
10. Discoloration or Burn Marks on Outlets
If you find dark brown or black marks on your outlets, it’s a sign that something could be very wrong with your electrical panel. It also indicates a serious fire hazard. Whether it’s being caused by an outdated electrical panel, faulty wiring, or damage to the panel, it is important to call an electrician to inspect the issue immediately.
Be sure to keep an eye and ear out for these 10 signs it’s time to replace your electrical panel. If you do find yourself in need of an electrical inspection or panel change, don’t hesitate to reach out! Air & Energy is a family-owned and operated company providing air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and generator services to residents in Manatee County, FL for over 39 years.
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