Do You Need Electrical Panel Upgrades? Here Are the Warning Signs!
One of the most important pieces of equipment in a house is also frequently one of the most overlooked: the circuit breaker electrical panel. It’s something most people forget about for months or even years since it’s simply doing its job without needing any maintenance. If no breakers are tripped, there’s no reason to mess with it.
However, nothing lasts forever. A circuit breaker box can potentially last for decades, but eventually, it will start to wear out – and start giving warning signs that you need electrical panel upgrades.
How do you know it’s time for a new circuit box? RD Matthews Electrical Contracting is here to help! We recommend having an electrical panel inspection every 5-10 years to ensure proper function, safety and efficiency.
Seven Red Flags That You Need Electric Panel Upgrades
1. You’re still running on fuses
We still sometimes refer to the circuit breaker box as a “fuse box,” but that hasn’t been an accurate term for years. Modern electrical panels do not rely on fuses, and are much more reliable overall as a result, as well as being safer. In fact, some home insurance companies will actively penalize homes that still use fuses, because of the higher risk of fire.
So, if your circuit panel is so old that it still uses fuses, investing in a new model is well worth it. You’ll be safer, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to reduce your insurance costs as well.
2. The wiring amperage is too low
Older homes had wiring designed to carry 60 amps, which was fine in the middle of the 20th Century but is simply inadequate these days. Modern electronics and appliances demand 200 amps, which is the new standard. Some upgrades may even be impossible with a low-amp system. Electric Vehicle chargers, for example, need far more amps than that.
This is another case where upgrading is a good idea, even if you aren’t having specific problems. If the low amperage isn’t a problem today, it will be someday soon.
3. Frequent tripped circuit breakers
Everyone may have a tripped circuit breaker every now and then, such as from an unexpected surge of electricity, but it should be a rare event. If you find your circuit breakers tripping regularly, such as on a weekly basis, that means your power needs are greater than what your electrical panel can provide.
Besides the inconvenience, a power grid that’s working at or past capacity is at much higher risk of electrical fires and other mechanical problems.
4. Breakers tripping when you plug in a specific device
If you always get a tripped breaker when you plug in one specific device or appliance – or if you have to actively unplug other things to get it to work – that also means your home’s electrical system is no longer good enough. The problem might be low amperage, as discussed above, or a lack of available power – but either way, the solution is an electrical panel upgrade from experienced experts.
5. Frequent brownouts or flickering lights
In some cases, your local power grid may be overburdened, but without actually tripping the breakers in your circuit box. In this situation, you’ll notice frequent brownouts or else flickering lights. In particular, this may occur when you plug in or use a particularly energy-hungry device, such as a clothes washer.
6. Smoke or signs of overheating
When you walk by your circuit box, it’s a good idea to give it a quick sniff, especially if it’s an older model. As a circuit panel begins to fail, it’s much more likely to become prone to electrical arcs, sparks, and other potential sources of fire.
If you ever smell smoke or ozone, this is a gigantic red flag and you need electrical repairs or upgrades ASAP. Unplug as many appliances as you can and get someone out there to fix your box before there’s a fire.
The same is true if the circuit panel is hot to the touch. It is typically a bit warm, but it should never be so hot that it’s painful to touch.
7. Buzzing sounds
A less common sign of a failing circuit panel is a buzzing sound, but it’s another bad sign. This typically means that there are electrical sparks or arcs going on within the panel, which absolutely should not happen.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, this is another serious fire hazard and must be addressed immediately before there’s a disaster.
Get Rapid Expert Electrical Repairs and Upgrades from RD Matthews Electrical Contracting
If you suspect there is something wrong with your circuit panel, never attempt to repair it yourself. The amount of power flowing through it is potentially deadly, should you come into direct contact with a live wire.
Always call expert electricians to handle your electrical panel upgrades – like your friends at RD Matthews Electrical Contracting. Click here to schedule an appointment!