Electrical panels are usually located in garages, basements, or utility closets and are easy to overlook until something goes wrong. However, the importance of your home’s electrical panel can’t be overstated. It is the single most important piece of electrical equipment inside your home, responsible for taking power from the electrical company’s service drop and distributing it to the power outlets throughout your home.
Your home’s electrical service panel consists of a series of circuit breakers and fuses that control all of the electrical components of your home. The electrical panel divides all electrical power into different circuits, each of which is protected by a circuit breaker. Typically, homes have a service size of between 100 and 200 amps, though 60 amps was once the norm.
Your Electrical Panel May Be Obsolete or Damaged
A residential electrical panel typically lasts 25-40 years but with today’s increased demand for power, your panel may be working beyond its intended capacity. If you own an older home with a fuse box or have circuit breakers with outdated amperage, it may be time to consider a replacement. Many common electrical issues can be traced back to a faulty electrical panel.
Here are seven reasons to upgrade your electrical panel.
While electrical panels are designed to last a long time and are generally very reliable, they can become damaged over time. Water infiltration caused by either plumbing leaks or acts of nature is a common source of damage. Corrosion can lead to overheating and electrical fires. If your panel shows any signs of damage from water infiltration, pests, or other issues, it’s important to have it professionally inspected.
2. Faulty or Damaged Wiring
Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of fires in American homes. As your home ages, so does your wiring. Flickering lights, small shocks when touching appliances, a burning smell, or scorch marks around electrical outlets are all signs of faulty wiring. If your lights flicker or dim when you use appliances like a microwave or dishwasher, it’s a sign that your electrical panel can’t safely handle the load.
3. Outdated System
Shock and fire hazards are common with old wiring that has missing or deteriorated insulation. Two-prong outlets pose a shock or electrocution hazard because they lack grounding protection. A fuse box doesn’t provide the same level of protection as modern circuit breakers. Not only does an outdated electrical system create serious safety concerns, but it could be a reason that insurance companies refuse to cover your home or charge a higher premium.
4. Circuit Breakers that Regularly Trip
Circuit breakers are essential to protecting your home from electrical fires. Circuit breakers prevent short circuits or overloaded circuits by interrupting the flow of electricity as soon as an issue is detected. If your system is working properly, then the circuit breaker shouldn’t need to interrupt the flow of electricity very often.
5. You Need More Amps
If you plan to have new major electrical appliances installed, it's important that your electrical panel can safely handle the increased load. Hot tubs, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other appliances that consume a lot of energy often require an upgrade to a 200-amp system to ensure the electrical system doesn't become overloaded. If you’re adding an addition to your home or doing significant remodeling projects, it’s important to make sure that you have a panel that can safely handle increased power demands.
6. Over-Reliance on Power Strips
If you are using multiple power strips or extension cords throughout your home on a permanent basis, it's a sign that your current electrical panel isn’t meeting your needs. Every device connected to a power strip draws power from the same outlet. The more devices connected to it, the more power is drawn. Improper use of extension cords causes over 3,000 residential fires each year in the United States. The safer solution is to upgrade your electrical panel and add more outlets.
Modern electrical panels include safety features that weren’t available even a few years ago. And some older electrical panels were not manufactured up to standard from the beginning. Over time, several models have been proven to be dangerous and unsafe. If you’re not certain about the age or safety of your electrical panel, a qualified electrician will be able to determine if your panel is a safety hazard.
Hire a Qualified Electrician to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel
One of the most neglected yet essential components of home maintenance is keeping up with the electrical system. If your home has an electrical panel that is more than 30 years old, it could be time to upgrade your system. A licensed electrician will be able to inspect your electrical panel and wiring for problems and help you determine if it’s time for an upgrade or replacement.
When you need electrical work for your home or business, call on the experts at Pallardy Electric. We’ve been serving St. Charles and St. Louis counties since 2001. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured for your safety and protection. Call us at (636) 202-1794 to schedule a free estimate. We look forward to working with you.