Most of us only think about our electrical panel when we need to reset a circuit breaker. Other than that, you probably forget it even exists.
But like everything, electrical panels have a lifespan— and eventually, need to be replaced. Age isn’t the only reason a panel may need an update; in fact, there are a handful of factors besides wear-and-tear that would merit a fresh install.
Here are eight reasons it’s probably time you replaced your electrical panel:
1. You’re having issues with your circuit breaker.
This is where many home or business owners start: with obvious electrical problems.
Do any of these scenarios apply to you?
- You’re resetting circuit breakers all the time. If you find yourself in the dark every time you pick up your hairdryer, it’s a sign that your electrical panel is not sufficient for your needs.
- Your breakers won’t stay reset. You overloaded the circuit, tripped the breaker, and now you have to reset it. 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. (Check out these tips for troubleshooting the trip).
- You actually have fuses, not breakers. Fuses perform the same function as breakers, they’re just older and less convenient. But heading down to the hardware store every time you blow a fuse is a pain. Plus, in an emergency situation, like a hurricane or other severe weather event, it’s often not an option— leaving you without electricity when you need it most.
2. Your current panel is more than 20 years old.
Older electrical panels were not designed to serve our growing technological needs and like everything, have a lifespan. Not only might your aged panel be unable to power your wide range of high-wattage TVs, computers, etc., but panels installed before 2000 likely don’t meet updated safety standards.
If your home is 25 years or older, be sure to check the age of your electrical panel. Any box older than 20 years should be replaced. Remember, it’s good to check on your panel at least once a year to catch any problems, regardless of how old it is.
3. You’re adjusting your electrical needs.
Anytime you add or replace electronic devices, it’s important to reassess your wattage requirements. Overloads can cause frequent breaker trips, and even damage or ruin your electronics.
If you’ve recently swapped out an old application for a new one or purchased a brand new device, be sure to check your updated energy usage. Larger appliances can eat up a huge portion of your allotted wattage, and adding something like a second refrigerator could push you over the threshold. Estimate your electronic usage with Energy.gov’s Energy Saver tool.
4. You’re doing a home renovation.
Are you building a new room? Enlarging your kitchen? Adding outlets to your home office? All these new lights, appliances, ports can really add up. Even if you feel like your lifestyle won’t be terribly affected by the fresh addition or renovation, your electrical panel might— and different rooms on different circuits could overload your breakers.
If your panel is newer and has the necessary space for additional breakers, an electrician can help divide things up accordingly. But if it’s an older or smaller panel, a replacement may be in order to handle the extra load.
5. You’re listing your home for sale.
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.” This can help put buyers at ease, knowing it’s one less thing they have to worry about. Plus, the last thing you want is a brownout in the middle of an open house!
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 accordance 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, 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’re experiencing performance issues.
If you’re noticing flickering or dysfunctioning lights or have appliances that aren’t operating at full power, your electric panel may be the cause— but not always. It could also be faulty devices or outlets, bad wiring, or poor-efficiency (only to be revealed in the form of a high electric bill!).
Be sure to investigate or bring in a professional to access the issue. Here are a few examples of when it’s best to call an electrician.
8. You’re concerned about your overall safety.
If you open up your electrical panel and smell something burning or see corroded wires, this is not something to neglect! Be sure to also look out for moisture inside the panel or obviously damaged wires.
Electric issues inside your box can cause fires that destroy entire homes and businesses— and put your loved ones and staff at fatal risk. Should you see something suspicious in your panel, dial-up an electrician right away.
Time for a New Electrical Panel?
Electrical issues are nothing to be ignored and can be a serious threat to your family or staff. Get to know your panel by learning more about circuit breakers on our blog.
Should you suspect it’s time for an upgrade, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to get the job done right— the first time— saving you time and money.
Check out our Electrical Panel Services page and fill out our form to request installation, service, or replacement today. Or, give us a call at (239) 935-5892.