Home upgrades are exciting. New floors! New countertops! New … electrical panel?
If you’re like most people, you only think about your electrical panel when you need to reset a circuit breaker, then proceed to forget that it exists. After all, it’s just a bunch of switches, right? But like everything, electrical panels have a lifespan, and eventually need to be replaced.
But if you only pay attention to your electrical panel a few times a year when the lights go out, how do you know whether it’s due for an upgrade? Here are some guidelines to help you along.
1. You find yourself resetting circuit breakers all the time.
It makes sense that you’ll need to deal with your electrical panel on occasion. After all, that’s why you have circuit breakers to begin with! But if you find yourself in the dark every time you pick up a hair dryer, it’s a sign that your electrical panel is not sufficient for your needs.
2. Your breakers don’t stay reset.
You overloaded the circuit, tripped the breaker, and now you have to reset it; that’s no big deal. But if you flip the switch and the power still doesn’t come back on? That’s a sign that your electrical panel is faulty. Sometimes a problematic panel can be repaired by a good electrician, but it may be more economical in the long run to replace it with an up-to-date panel that isn’t so likely to need repeated fixing anytime soon.
3. You don’t even HAVE breakers.
There’s nothing wrong with fuses, in theory. They do the same job as breakers, they’re just older and less convenient. But heading down to the hardware store every time you blow a fuse and need a new one is Not Fun. And in an emergency situation like a hurricane or other severe weather event, it’s often not an option, leaving you without the ability to restore electricity to your home right when you need it most.
4. Your electrical usage is about to increase.
If you parents are coming to live with you, you’re starting an energy-hungry business in your home, or you’re adding an extra freezer or two, your electrical needs may soon be different from what they’ve been in the past. It’s worth looking into whether your current panel can handle an additional load on the system.
5. You’re renovating.
Are you building a new room? Enlarging your kitchen? Adding outlets to your home office? Even if you feel like your lifestyle won’t be terribly different with the new addition, the balance of which rooms are connected with which circuits may be off. If your panel is newer and has the space, an electrician can help divide things up accordingly. But if it’s an older or smaller panel, a replacement may be in order.
6. Your insurance requires it.
If you have a particularly old electrical panel, your insurance company may demand that you upgrade or pay an increased rate. Some insurance companies may even refuse to cover your home at all until your panel has been updated to one in accord with modern safety regulations. This is especially true if you are still running on fuses. Given the information insurance companies have about electrical fires and other incidents across the country, they know the safety concerns better than anyone! If your insurance company is concerned about your electrical panel, it’s time for a change.
7. You plan to sell your house soon.
If you’ve been putting up with an electrical panel that’s just okay, replacing it before you sell is one thing you can do to show off as a “recent upgrade.” Given the fear many new homeowners have when it comes to anything related to their utilities, this can help put buyers at ease, knowing that it’s one less thing they have to worry about. And the last thing you want is a brownout in the middle of an open house.
What’s the next step?
If you need a new electrical panel, you’re not alone. We can walk you through the process as soon as you get in touch.