Your electrical panel is basically the heart of your electrical system. It’s what feeds electricity into the circuits that power your house, while also protecting your system from getting overloaded. That’s why when there’s a problem with your electrical panel, it is critical to act ASAP. Fortunately, Service Today! has you covered. Keep reading for the top ten signs it’s time to replace your electrical panel, and remember that you can always contact our experienced electricians for all the essential electrical services you need.
Top 10 Reasons to Consider Replacing Your Electrical Panel
- Your Panel is Over 25-Years-Old: Like most household equipment, your electrical panel will start to lose efficiency after years of wear and tear. However, if your panel is over 25-years-old, there is an even more important reason to consider an upgrade. Between the 1950s and 1990s, it was fairly common for homes to be built with Federal Pacific Electric and Zinsco brand electrical panels. However, around the 1970s, it was discovered that these panels were prone to malfunctioning, often sparking and even causing several fires and electrocutions. That’s why if your home was built more than a few decades ago, you should check to see what brand of electrical panel you have, and if it is a Zinsco or FPE panel, call for an upgrade right away.
- Your Panel Is Releasing a Burning Smell: Obviously, electrical burning is never a good sign. Chances are that if this smell is coming from your panel, either the plastic jacket or wires inside are melting. It is also possible that the insulation or wood in your walls has become scorched. No matter what is causing that burning odor though, it is essential to act quickly, since this will cause your entire system to malfunction and can turn your panel into a major fire hazard.
- Your Panel Is Warm to the Touch: A functioning electrical panel should regulate the heat generated by your system, tripping the breaker when a circuit begins to overheat. However, if you have noticed that your panel is warm or even hot to the touch, then there may be something wrong with your panel. An overheated electrical panel can end up leading to a house fire, so if you sense heat coming off your panel, make sure to call an electrician immediately.
- Your Panel Is Displaying Visible Rust or Other Damage: If you see rust on your electrical panel, there is a good chance it has been damaged by a water leak. Obviously, the last thing you want is for your electrical equipment to come in contact with water, so if you do notice water damage, make sure to call a plumber to find out where the leak is coming from and an electrician to inspect your panel. Other signs of damage on your panel that may indicate a replacement/repair is necessary include scratches or dents. These may occur if the panel is located in the basement or garage, where things may fall on/push up against it.
- Your Panel Is Making Strange Noises: The only sound you should hear coming from your electrical panel is the click of a breaker popping when a circuit is tripped. If you hear a growing hum, however, like an electrical buzzing/hissing, there could be a wiring or connection issue on the other end that may force you to replace or at least repair the equipment.
- Your Lights Frequently Flicker: Lights that frequently flicker or dim are one of the more common signs of an overloaded electrical system. If this only happens occasionally, or in one part of your home, then the problem may lie in your lighting itself. However, if you find that your lights flicker when you simply plug in the vacuum cleaner or turn on the microwave, then there is a good chance your panel is no longer able to accommodate the power draw needs of your appliances.
- Your Circuit Breakers Often Trip: Your circuit breakers are designed to trip when the flow of electrical current to one circuit becomes too great. However, when your circuit breakers start to trip all the time, this can indicate there is a problem with your electrical panel. You may require some rewiring service to help your panel keep up with the rest of your electrical system, though if your panel is aging and increasingly incompatible with your electricity needs, the only way to stop your breakers from continuously tripping may be to install a new panel entirely.
- Your Home Does Not Have Enough Outlets: In most cases, the best solution to not having enough outlets is simply to buy some power strips. However, if your electrical panel is already under a great amount of strain, a lack of outlets can intensify the panel’s issues. In some cases, it may be possible to add some dedicated circuits to your panels, so you can install some new outlets. However, if your panel is already straining to meet your home’s electrical needs, you may need to just pull the trigger on an upgrade. Bottom line: stretching the capacity of your outlets is just going to put more strain on your panel, so either way, something has got to give.
- Your Home is Equipped with a Lot of Heavy-Duty Appliances: While modern homes are built to supply power to several high-drawing appliances at once, if you live in an older home and have recently purchased a new dishwasher, HVAC system, or washer-dryer combo, your electrical panel may lack the capacity to safely supply all these devices with adequate power.
- You Have a Fuse Box Instead of a Circuit Breaker: Fuse boxes are similar to circuit breakers, and inherently, they have the same purpose. The difference is that in a fuse-based panel, you have to replace the fuse every time it blows, whereas with a breaker panel, you simply have to reset the breaker. This can be a major inconvenience, and potentially very costly, if your panel is experiencing frequent issues. Fuse panels also allow more current to flow through your system, meaning they may be more prone to causing electrical fires, and are generally less able to accommodate your modern electrical needs. For these reasons, it may be easier to just replace your fuse box with a circuit breaker box.