If you think of your home’s electrical wiring like the central nervous system in your body, the electrical panel is the brain. Also known as the breaker box, circuit panel, or junction box, the electrical panel is where electricity enters your home from the outside grid and distributes to various circuits within the building. The panel ensures your home’s electrical devices receive the correct amount of electricity. And each circuit is protected by a breaker, which trips to cut off power if an overload is detected.
Understanding the signs of needing an electrical panel upgrade is crucial for the safety and functionality of your home. Learn 12 signs that your electrical panel may be due for an upgrade.
1. Constantly Tripping Circuit Breakers
This problem is more than just an annoyance; it’s a serious safety concern. Frequent tripping indicates that your electrical panel struggles to handle the power demand. It can also wear out the breakers, rendering them ineffective and leaving your home vulnerable to overloads and potential electrical fires. Upgrading your electrical panel is the key to resolving constantly tripping circuit breakers.
2. Flickering or Dimming Lights
Do the overhead lights dim when you start the microwave or turn on the vacuum cleaner? Do the lamps constantly flicker even when there isn’t a significant power draw? These signs indicate that too much power is flowing through a single circuit. You may be able to add extra circuits to alleviate this problem, but a total electrical panel replacement may also be advised. Your electrician will inform you which route is best.
3.Undersized Panel with No Room for Additional Breakers
Smaller or older homes may have a 100-amp electrical panel, but most modern homes with central air conditioning need a 200-amp panel. It’s unlikely you’ll need a larger panel than this, but your electrician can help you make your final decision. No matter what size you choose, installing a larger breaker box gives you room to make future renovations or upgrades.
4.Using Multiple Extension Cords and Power Strips
Extension cords and power strips are useful temporary tools, but relying on them constantly means you don’t have enough outlets. It also means that the circuit panel may not be able to handle the increased electrical draw placed on it. For these reasons, using extension cords and power strips all the time could lead to overloading and a potential house fire. An electrical panel upgrade provides the necessary capacity to install more outlets and handle modern electrical demands.
5. Old or Outdated Panel
The average electrical panel box lasts 25 to 40 years. Plus, panels over 25 years old may not comply with modern safety standards, making then non-insurable under your homeowner’s insurance plan. An outdated model or brand may be prone to overheating, fire, or electrical shock. A panel upgrade brings the system up to code, enhancing safety and functionality.
6. Melting or Burnt Wires and Breakers
If you smell burning plastic or wood, and you think it’s coming from your junction box, this could mean the wires are melting or burnt. These alarming signs, often caused by overheating or loose connections, are clear warnings of a failing system. Seek immediate professional intervention to prevent potential fires and other safety risks.
7. Odd Sounds Coming from the Panel
Unusual buzzing or humming noises from the electrical panel should raise immediate concerns. Such sounds may signify loose connections or other significant issues that warrant a professional assessment. Ignoring these warnings could lead to more serious problems later on, so call an electrician to tighten the connections or explore the possibility of upgrading your panel.
8. Rusted or Broken Panel
If you open the junction box door to find water damage, rust, or other problems, avoid touching it and call an electrician. Corrosion on the panel, whether caused by water intrusion or excessive humidity, can severely compromise its integrity. Rust weakens the metal components, increasing the risk of failures and accidents. Upgrading the electrical panel involves replacing the compromised parts, ensuring a safe and reliable electrical distribution.
9. Fuses Instead of Circuit Breakers
Does your junction box contain fuses instead of modern circuit breakers? If so, an update is highly recommended. Fuses are typically found in homes built before 1960 with the original electrical panel still in place. While revolutionary for the time, fuses pose a fire hazard and should be replaced with circuit breakers, which are more efficient and provide enhanced safety features.
10.Voltage Issues and Power Surges
Unstable power distribution from an overtaxed electrical system can lead to voltage fluctuations and unexpected power surges. These issues can cause wear and tear on appliances and even lead to premature failure. Upgrading your electrical panel stabilizes the flow of electricity, protects expensive devices, and ensures a consistent energy supply.
11. Plans to Install New Appliances
As technology evolves, households need more appliances to function. You may need an electrical panel replacement before installing central air conditioning or adding a chest freezer to the garage, especially if you live in an older home. An electrician can assess your panel’s amperage to see if it can handle the extra demand you want to place on it.
12. Upcoming Home Renovation
If you’re planning a significant home remodel or addition, your current electrical panel may not support the resulting increase in electrical load. Consider upgrading the electrical panel as part of your overall remodeling project to ensure seamless integration with your new electrical demands.
Electrical Panel Upgrades from Allen Service
Understanding these signs is important, but selecting the right service provider to upgrade your electrical panel is just as crucial. Allen Service has over 60 years of experience serving Fort Collins and the surrounding area with exceptional electrical services. From basic repairs to full installations and replacements, we can handle it all with expertise and precision. For your safety and peace of mind, please call 970-484-4841 today to speak with us about your electrical panel replacement needs.