10 Signs You Should Upgrade Your Electrical Panel
The electrical panel in your Cumming, GA home is the distribution center for electricity. Also known as a load center, this centralized service box connects your home to the main power line and supplies electrical currents to different circuits. It’s also built with breakers for all circuits that prevent over-distribution. It’s the first place to go when the power supply to any room or appliance shuts down unexpectedly. As with everything else in residential properties, electrical panels are subject to wear and tear. Given their limited lifespans and their incredibly important job, it’s vital to know when to replace them. Following are 10 signs that it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel.
1. Your Home Has a Fuse Box
Although fuse boxes were considered revolutionary in their time, they’re now recognized as being unsafe. If you live in a home that was built before 1960 and have never had your electrical system upgraded, now is the time to make this improvement. The circuit breakers inside of fuse boxes have the capacity to melt the unit’s main busbar. Also known as a busbar trunking system, this is the central, metallic strip of copper, brass, or aluminum that grounds electricity and conducts it. If the busbar ever melts, circuit breakers will no longer have the ability to trip, and unchecked power surges can melt wires and cause fires.
2. Your Electrical Panel Is More Than 20 Years Old
Even if your home no longer has a fuse box, if your electrical panel is over 20 years old, it’s time to have it swapped out. Significant changes have occurred in the electricity demands of the average household. For instance, many consumers have gone from having single TVs in their homes to having televisions, gaming systems, and other entertainment technologies in every room. Nearly all residents have their own mobile phones and mobile phone chargers, tablets, laptops, PCs, and more.
Even the number of convenience appliances have increased. Some homes have rice cookers, air fryers, toaster ovens, microwaves, and coffee makers constantly plugged in. In many households, nearly every outlet is in use. It’s also important to note that the average lifespan of an electrical panel is between 25 and 35 years. At the 20-year mark, it’s best to have a licensed electrician perform an inspection and decide whether or not the panel is ready for an upgrade.
3. You’re Constantly Having to Flip Breakers
Breakers that constantly trip are a sign of electrical problems. There may be a bad breaker or you may have faulty wiring somewhere within your electrical system. Your household’s increasing electricity demands may exceed your electrical system’s capacity. Even the electrical panel itself could be faulty. Paying heed to this early warning sign is important for avoiding electrical fires and other serious issues.
4. There Aren’t Enough Outlets in Your Home to Support Your Lifestyle
Although extension cords and power strips are handy, they shouldn’t be necessary for plugging all of your essentials in. If you’re using these cords to compensate for insufficient outlets, of if you have a veritable maze of extension cords running through your home, modernizing your electrical system will make your life easier. It will also limit the risk of electrical fires and eliminate potential trip and fall hazards.
5. Your Electrical Panel Is Hot to the Touch
The outside of your electrical panel box should never be hot to the touch. If it is, call an electrician. This is an indication of a serious malfunction and should be dealt with right away. Keep in mind that circuit breakers produce a fair amount of heat during normal operation. The bi-metal trip devices and electrical contacts in this unit are constantly subjected to electrical resistance. However, this unit is meant to bear up under this ongoing activity and thus, although it may be slightly warm, it should never actually be hot.
6. You Want to Add New Fixtures and Appliances to Your Home
The best time to prepare your electrical panel for new appliances and fixtures is before these home additions are actually installed. Upgrading your electrical panel in advance of these installations will prevent tripped breakers, electrical fires, and more. It can even help you avoid damaging your new equipment before you’ve had the chance to enjoy it. It’s important to note that failing to deal with electrical wiring problems when using new appliances could cause their manufacturer warranties to be voided.
7. The Lights in Your Home Are Always Flickering
There are several reasons why lights flicker off and on in homes. On excessively windy days, flickering lights could indicate short-term interruptions in the main power supply. However, if your lights flicker off and on every time a major appliance is powered up, it means that the power demand on a single circuit is too high. An upgraded panel will allow you to use all of your gadgets, devices, and appliances without overwhelming any aspect of your electrical system.
If flickering lights aren’t related to your electrical panel, you should explore your options for whole-house surge protection. Even minor power surges resulting from short disruptions in your main power supply can take a toll on your electronics and appliances. Installing surge protection will protect the lifespan of your computers, televisions, and other electrically powered items so that they don’t malfunction or fail long before their time.
8. Your Breaker Box Is Making Strange Sounds
Contact an electrician right away if you hear clicking, humming, or buzzing noises coming from your breaker box. These sounds could be an indication of an overloaded circuit breaker and should be inspected right away. Buzzing noises at breaker boxes often mean that an overloaded circuit breaker is unable to trip.
9. There’s a Burnt Odor Coming From Your Breaker Box
Burnt odors coming from any part of your home’s electrical system are never a good sign. Whether they’re coming from your outlets or from your electrical panel, you should schedule an inspection immediately. This is especially important to do if your breaker box is warm to the touch and has singe marks or soot at its interior or exterior.
10. There’s Visible Damage at the Electrical Panel
Electrical panels definitely need to be replaced when they have visible corrosion in their interior. Other signs of damage to look for are melted or frayed insulation, exposed wires, and scorched wires or scorch marks. It’s also important to note that electrical panels can sometimes attract small pests. Insects and animals find their way into these boxes in search of warmth. They can cause serious damage in the process. Thus, even if your electrical panel is relatively new, if it’s home to pests, it may need replacing.
12. Your Outlets Are Always Sparking
It’s not uncommon to see a small spark when plugging a cord in or taking it back out. However, if your outlets are always sparking and if the sparks are fairly large in size, you’ve got a problem. The issue may lie with your outlets, but it could also be a sign of a wiring problem. Sparking outlets are especially concerning when they’re paired with slightly sweet, burnt odors, and small trails of white or light gray smoke.
Arc Angel Electric offers indoor lighting, surge protection, and electrical panel service. Established in 2011, we proudly serve residents of Cumming, GA and Mount Pleasant, SC. If your home needs a new electrical panel or if you have other electrical concerns, give us a call today!