How Do I Know If My Home Needs A Panel Upgrade?

Electrical panel work

Most homeowners never think about their electrical panels unless it’s during a home inspection or they need to flip a circuit back on. It’s good to pay attention to it, though – the electrical panel is critical to keeping your home’s electricity operating safely and properly!

If you’re now compelled to check your home’s electrical, you might notice it’s looking a bit old. How do you know if it needs a panel upgrade? Here are the signs it might be time to call a residential electrician!

You’re Experiencing A Lot Of Tripped Breakers

 

Circuit breakers protect your home’s electrical system – they turn off the flow of electricity to protect it and your electronics from circuits that are drawing power. While it could be that the current running through is too much for your electrical system, if the circuit breaker trips too often, it can be a sign that you need a panel upgrade.

Frequently tripping breakers means your electrical panel probably lacks the capacity for the flow it needs. Instead of flipping the switch back every time, upgrade the panel to a system with a higher capacity.

 

The Panel Is Warm Or Emanating Burning Smells

 

An electrical panel regulates how hot the electrical system becomes. When it does overheat, the system should cause a circuit breaker to trip, protecting the home from a potential electrical fire. If you notice that the electrical panel is warm or even hot, there’s likely a serious problem that will force you to replace the unit before the outbreak of a fire. 

You should always be immediately concerned if your electrical panel has a burnt or burning smell in or around it. When circuit breaker panels fail, it can cause house fires that destroy your entire property as well as your neighbours.

Often, the burning smell will be either plastic or wood, as the plastic jacket of the electrical wire melts or the wood and insulation in your walls become scorched. If you smell these things, you must have your electrical panel replaced.

 

You’re Using Fuses Rather Than Circuit Breakers

 

In modern homes, fuse-based panels have less room for the flow of electricity. In general, using fuses can be just as safe as circuit breakers when you need the flow of electricity interrupted. However, fuse-based electrical panels can be overtaxed by contemporary appliances – once a fuse blows, you have to replace the fuse rather than flipping a switch like you can with a circuit breaker.

To compensate, some homeowners will use fuses that are too large. These fuses allow more current to flow through the connected circuit than the system can handle, leading to the potential for electrical fires. 

 

Your Electrical Panel Is Over 25 Years Old

 

The average lifespan for an electrical panel can range from 25-40 years. There is a wide range of variability due to several things, including power surges, manufacturer defects, and general wear and tear. Regardless, any electrical panel over 25 years old can be dangerous; it’s a good idea to have an inspection performed by a certified electrician, who can make sure everything is in good order. 

In all likelihood, you should upgrade the panel no matter its condition; this way, your home has a system that can handle modern energy demands!

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