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The Dangers of Not Replacing an Old, Outdated Electrical Panel

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 11, 2021 9:49:32 AM / by Jaron Henkel

the-dangers-of-not-replacing-an-old-outdated-electrical-panelMost homeowners only think about their electrical panel when a breaker trips and they have to mosie out to the garage to reset it.

But your electrical panel is the “nerve center” or your home’s electrical systems. All of your outlets are powered through this one central hub. And like nearly everything in life, your electrical panel has a lifespan.

There are many parts inside the panel— like your breakers, terminal strip, motor starter, logic area, etc.— as these can wear out and leave you vulnerable to electrical issues. 

Trust us, an old or neglected electrical panel is a bigger threat than you may realize! Let’s look at a few of the consequences of not replacing an outdated electrical panel:

An outdated electrical panel may provide insufficient electrical current.

There’s nothing worse than glitchy electricity. If you’re experiencing frequent circuit breaker trips or flickering lights, there may be an issue with your connection to your electrical panel. This doesn’t always mean you need a panel replacement; you could be overloading an outlet with too high of voltage and need to make adjustments or have corrosion on your breaker connection, as two examples. But sometimes a finicky service panel is indeed to blame! 

Chances are, if your electrical panel is over 20 years old or was added to your home before the 1990s, it’s past its lifespan and running on metaphorical fumes! If your panel is having issues regulating the flow of electricity in your home, it could “out” your outlets, meaning they can’t hold enough power for your plugged-in electronics. 

An old electrical panel may damage or destroy plugged-in devices.

When your electrical panel is working properly, it’ll flip a breaker to cut current to an outlet when it senses an overload in electricity. This is designed to prevent electrical sparks or having your devices from being fried by a power surge. An old panel, however, may not be able to sense this fluctuation in currents and flip your breaker. 

When your panel doesn’t cut the flow of this excessive spike in electricity, it can cause a power surge, which may damage any plugged-in devices or appliances. The issue is, overloads are sneaky… They may not completely fry your technology, but instead, deteriorate its insides, knocking a few years off its lifespan. While your TV may run just fine right now, a finicky electric panel may have missed a damaging surge that knocked 5 years off its life.

An outdated electrical panel increases your risk of an electrical fire.

Fires involving electrical failures or malfunctions accounted for the highest share of civilian deaths (18%) and direct property damage (20%), according to The National Fire Prevention Association. 

Electrical panels regulate all the electrical current running through the wires of your home into your outlets. That means there are a lot of channels for something to go wrong. Not only do you have sparks flying inside the service panel to worry about, but each outlet poses a risk too when a panel isn’t working properly. If you have curtains draping near an outlet or carpeting beneath, these are two prime combustible fabrics that could take flame should an outlet spark. 

Is it Time for a New Electrical Panel?

Now that you know all the risks of not replacing an old electrical panel, how do you know when to invest in a new one?

Here are a few reasons you may new a new service panel:

  • Your electrical panel is a brand that was recalled
  • You’re having repeated performance issues with your circuit breaker
  • Your current panel is more than 20 years old
  • You’re just about to adjust your electrical needs (get more high-voltage devices, add more outlets, etc.)
  • You’re doing a home renovation or addition
  • You’re listing your home for sale
  • Your insurance requires it

Check out our blog 8 Reasons it’s Probably Time to Install a New Electrical Panel for an explanation of each.

Inspect Your Service Panel

Sometimes, you can open the door to your service panel and see that loose wire or apparent problems straight away. Other times, only an expert eye can troubleshoot your electrical issues.

That’s why we recommend a professional annual inspection of your electrical panel. If it’s been some time since you had your breakers and box looked at, don’t wait. Check out our Electrical Panel Services page and fill out our form to request service or replacement today. Or, give us a call at (239) 935-5892.

While replacing a service panel isn’t in your wheelhouse, there are plenty of other home electrical jobs you can do yourself. Download our Electric Toolkit for a few tips on DIY home electrical projects.

homeowners electrical guide

Topics: Electrical Safety

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