Your breaker box needs a checkup, especially if it’s more than 25 years old. But don’t stop at the breaker box, take a good look at the entire electrical system. Here are the signs to look for to see if you might need a new electrical panel:
- You hear crackling sounds from the breaker box panel.
- You see corrosion and rust on the breaker switches.
- The interior of the breaker box feels warm.
- Appliances are running at less than full power.
- Your home has two-pronged outlets, not three-pronged grounded outlets.
- Outlets near water sources – such as sinks, tubs, dishwashers and clothes washer lines – are do not have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) in them.
- You need surge protectors for computers and other valuable appliances.
- You’re always using extension cords.
- Your home has a 60-amp electrical service.
- Your home has 100-amp electrical service, but it still can’t operate some appliances.
- Your older home has a fuse block panel or split-buss panel, which do not have a main breaker.
Do I Need To Upgrade My Electrical Panel?
To learn about the capacity of your current breaker panel, look on the inside. There will be a tag, usually, on the door, that will list maximum voltage, current and power dissipation capability for the panel and busses. Most breaker boxes are 100, 150 or 200 amps. The average home typically requires 200 amp panels to fully operate all of your appliances and meet your electrical needs.
Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?
Circuit breaker panels typically last 25 to 40 years.
Does your home still have a fuse box?
If your home still relies on an old-fashioned panel with fuses, which is common in homes built prior to 1960, then you probably want to upgrade to an electrical panel with circuit breakers. Fuses burn out and need to be replaced and circuit breakers just need to be reset with a flip of the switch.
Is your home more than 20 years old?
If your home is more than 20 or 30 years old, you may need an upgrade. Older homes typically have panels that top out at 60 or 100 amps. Newer homes usually have 200-amp panels which fit our lifestyles. Today’s electricity needs are greater than before with high-definition televisions, computers, smart refrigerators and other appliances.
Is your electrical panel warm?
If the panel feels warm to the touch, it could be a sign that the panel is overloaded, improperly installed or defective.
Does your electrical panel smell?
If the panel gives off a burning smell, this could be a sign that either there is a bad circuit breaker or that a wire isn’t properly connected. Either one of those warning signs can put you at risk for an electrical fire.
Does your electrical panel trip often?
If your electrical panel trips often or if it makes a crackling sound, it may need to be replaced. The system will trip when you plug too many appliances into a circuit which requires more power than the circuit can accommodate. The “tripping” or cutting off power is a safety measure to prevent the wires from overheating. This may mean that just the breaker needs to be replaced and not the whole panel.
Do your appliances run at full capacity?
If your appliances aren’t running at full capacity, it may be a result of a faulty electrical panel. The circuits could be overloaded. If that’s not the problem, it may be that the panel is outdated and you need more electricity to handle the current load that your home requires.
Do your lights dim or flicker frequently?
If your lights dim or flicker frequently, especially when you use other appliances, this could be a sign of connection coming loose or something failing.
Are you upgrading your appliances or adding on to your home?
If you are considering a major new appliance upgrade or addition to your home that would require additional amps, you might consider an upgrade.
Do you find yourself using a lot of power strips?
If you need additional wall outlets throughout your home, you may consider upgrading the panel to supply the power you will need to run everything.
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