A home’s systems are vital, from the network of ductwork supplying air from your HVAC system to the maze of pipes that channel water throughout your home as part of the plumbing design. But one of the most important systems is electrical. Having the power that you need matters. And the main controls for all the power running through your home right now are housed within your home’s electrical panel.
While you might presume to know how to properly maintain some of the other systems in your home, it’s hard to know how to care for an electrical panel. And it can be even more of a challenge to identify when your panel needs to be upgraded or replaced.
Today, we’ll share a few signs that indicate your home’s electrical panel requires an inspection from a professional electrician who can guide you into making those repair or replacement decisions.
If the electrical panel in your home is the structure’s original unit, it could be nearing the end of its lifespan. The average electrical control panel will last anywhere from 20 to 40 years. If yours is 20+ years old, you’ll need to bring in a professional to do an inspection.
What once were acceptable building and construction practices 20 years ago may not be the safest best practices today. And the original box may have only intended to wire 60 amperage, which is nowhere near the required power needed for today’s modern homes.
If you’re not sure how old your control panel is, check the amperage. Newer homes typically have 150 to 200 amperage ratings. Also, if your box uses fuses instead of breakers, it’s a sign of its age and requires an upgrade.
Your electrical panel should be cool to the touch and whisper quiet. If you feel heat or slight warming of your breakers, it could signify a bigger problem. Additionally, if your home’s electrical panel is making noises, including rattle sounds or odd buzzing, it’s time to call the electrician. These both can point to an overuse of amperage or faulty wiring.
Other signs of poor wiring that may produce hot-to-the-touch components or unexplained humming sounds/flickering of your lights when you plug in something to use can also be a red flag. If you get a zap of what feels like static electricity when you plug in your toaster or see sparks of any kind, call in a professional right away.
Your sense of smell can be your greatest resource when checking on the condition of your home’s electrical panel. If you smell any odor that resembles a burning, it can mean the protective coating on your wiring is wearing off or, worse, that hot wires are affecting the insulation behind the walls.
Walk through your home and be mindful of any new smells that accompany the use of electricity. And if there are any smells at all emitting from your control panel, call an electrician.
The breakers in your home’s electrical panel serve a vital purpose – they’ll trip and stop the current flow if there’s an overload of power attempting to surge. And throughout your homeownership experience, you’ll encounter tripped breakers. It’s normal, and they’re intended to work that way for safety purposes.
However, if you’re recognizing that your breakers seem to be tripping more often or all the time, it could be a sign your panel can’t keep up with the electricity demand. And it could point to your home drawing more amperage than your fuse box can generate.
The electrical control panel in your home was installed based on the size and expected electrical usage of the home. If you plan to add on to that structure, whether it’s just one room, or an entirely new addition, you’ll want to upgrade your electricity output at the box.
Drawing more power than the unit can handle can be dangerous. So, as you make plans for any new additions, include the electrical contractors in the discussion so you can safely ensure your control panel can accommodate the new flow of current and demand.
Another way to determine whether to call a professional is with a visual inspection of your home’s control panel. Take a closer look at the box itself. Call an electrician immediately if you see any signs of rust or moisture. Similarly, if your fuse box is damaged in any way, including dents or melted plastics, there’s an issue that warrants an immediate call.
Be proactive about updating your electrical panel when you replace any of your home’s major appliances. New air conditioner units, dishwashers, refrigerators, or even lighting systems can require dedicated circuits at the box.
You’ll also need to make sure your panel has the room to take on the additional circuits and corresponding breakers, a job only a professional can handle effectively. Just remember that your brand-new appliance won’t operate as intended if it can’t get the power it needs to do so safely.
How many power strips are you currently using throughout your home? If it’s a lot, and you constantly struggle to find an outlet source to handle everything you need to plug in, it could be a sign that your home doesn’t have the electrical capacity and amperage needed.
More importantly, your breakers may not be able to keep up with the current demand. An electrician can properly upgrade your panel and install additional outlets to ensure you’re safely plugging into, and receiving, the electricity you need without overburdening the system.
Some insurance companies are requiring homeowners to replace their home’s electrical panels. If your electrical panel was manufactured by any of these companies, then you might get a notification from your insurance company that it’s time to replace it.
If any of these signs sound familiar or resonate with you, it’s time to call 561-391-1048 and schedule a visit with a professional electrician from Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric!
Our team can help you protect your home with the proper upgrades and repairs your home’s electrical panel needs. Don’t wait if you suspect any of these issues are impacting the flow of electricity in your home. Call right away, and remember, Art can fix it!