Chances are, you don’t think about your electrical panel very often. Most people don’t know anything about them beyond how to reset a circuit breaker when it’s tripped. It’s not something you think of as needing to be replaced, but sometimes that’s the case. And if you don’t replace it when you should, it can lead to fire hazards and other dangers. So how do you know when you need a new electrical panel? Here are 7 reasons why you might.
- Your Breakers Are Being Tripped Too Often. The older a panel gets, the more sensitive it is to power surges. As that happens, it will start to trip the circuit breakers more often. If your general power usage has remained about the same, but you suddenly find that you’re having to reset your circuit breakers several times a week, that’s likely a sign that it’s wearing down and needs to be serviced or replaced.
- Your Breakers Don’t Trip at All. Everyone forgets sometimes and plugs too many things into the same circuit. Having to reset it is annoying, but it’s necessary. If your breaker doesn’t trip when it should, the wires can overheat. If you find that this is happening in your home, get an electrician to inspect your panel immediately, before it causes a fire.
- Breakers Don’t Stay Reset. You overloaded the circuit, tripped the breaker, and now you have to reset it. But even though you flipped the switch, the power is still out, and won’t come back. That’s likely a sign that the electrical panel is faulty. It may be fixable, or you may need a new one. Have an electrician inspect it to find out for sure.
- The Panel Is Old. If your house was built in the 80s or 90s or before, and your electrical panel hasn’t been replaced in that time, then it’s well past its usable lifespan and can cause a variety of problems, which can lead to fire hazards. Get a new electrical panel before the old one gives up the ghost.
- You’re Doing Home Renovations. If you’re doing work on your home, there are a number of things that can warrant a new electrical panel. If you’re putting in additional large appliances, such as a washer and dryer that you didn’t have before, adding a new room with its own electrical outlets, adding another electrical outlet to an existing room, or installing a 240-volt circuit, then you’ll need a new panel to accommodate these changes.
- Your Insurance Requires It. Depending on what kind of home insurance you have, your electrical panel might be required to meet a certain standard in order for you to get coverage. If your panel doesn’t meet that standard, then you’ll need to have it replaced.
- You Have an Outdated Brand. Several brands of electrical panels aren’t made anymore—and with good reason. They had inherent design flaws that made them unsafe and prone to fires. If your home was built before 1990 and you have a Challenger, a Federal Pacific Electric, or a Zinsco brand electrical panel, call an electrician to inspect it immediately, and then have it replaced.
If you do find that you need to buy a new electrical panel, or suspect that you might, talk to your electrician about it immediately. They’ll be able to advise you on the best brand and type of panel for your home. And the longer you wait, the more likely you are to have serious problems.
If you have questions about your breaker box/electrical panel, please give us a call at 239-745-5020. We would love to answer any of your questions.