Often, most of us never think about our electrical panels unless we need to flip a circuit breaker. But the electrical panel is one of the key electrical points in your home, and it is critical that you keep an eye on your panel to ensure that it is operating correctly.
To help you catch the signs of when it’s time to replace your circuit breaker panel, our top electricians wanted to share the 11 signs that we have seen over our years of service.
1. ELECTRICAL PANEL IS OVER 25 YEARS OLD
The average lifespan for an electrical panel can range from 25-40 years. There is a wide range of variability due to several things, such as:
- Power surges
- Wear and tear
- Manufacturer defect
Whatever the reason, an electrical panel that is over 25 years old can be a dangerous panel. If you don’t want to just replace it, considering the panel could be fine for another two decades, it is a good idea to have an electrical inspection done by one of our electricians to ensure everything is in good order.
2. SMELLS LIKE SOMETHING IS BURNING / BURNT
You should always be immediately concerned if your electrical panel has a burnt or burning smell in or around it. When circuit breaker panels fail, it can cause serious house fires that can destroy your entire property as well as your neighbors.
Often, the burning smell will be either plastic or wood, as the plastic jacket of the electrical wire melts or the wood and insulation in your walls become scorched. If you smell these things, it is critical that you have your electrical panel replaced.
3. OFTEN EXPERIENCE BREAKERS TRIPPING
Circuit breakers are designed to trip and turn the flow of electricity off to protect you from circuits that are drawing too much power. This design protects you from the consequences of too much power being pushed through your electrical system, but it can also be a sign that your electrical panel needs upgrading.
An electrical panel can lack the capacity to allow for adequate electrical flow, leaving you with frequently tripped breakers. Instead of needing to constantly flip a breaker back on, you can use our residential wiring services and have your insufficient panel replaced.
4. LACK THE OUTLETS THAT YOU NEED
A similar issue with the electrical panel that allows too little electrical flow is if you often find that you don’t have enough outlets. While this may seem like an issue you can fix with a power strip, it’s not recommended to overtax any single outlet. If there is room on your electrical panel, our electricians can add more dedicated circuits to install new outlets.
However, if your current electrical panel unable to accommodate new circuits, you will need to have it replaced so that you can have new dedicated circuits to run your outlets.
5.RECENTLY ADDED NEW LARGE APPLIANCE
Bringing in a new appliance such as a dishwasher or an appliance that has a higher electrical draw than your old appliance can lead you to need a new electrical panel. Like with the outlets, many electrical panels are at capacity and will need to be replaced before your new appliance can be run safely.
6.HAS FUSES AND NOT CIRCUIT BREAKERS
In principle, electrical panels that use fuses can be just as safe as panels that use circuit breakers to interrupt the flow of electricity. However, fuse-based electrical panels are often overtaxed since once a fuse blows, you have to replace the fuse rather than just flipping a switch like you can with a circuit breaker.
Since many people don’t want to deal with replacing their fuses whenever they blow, often people use too-large fuses. The problem is, these too-large fuses allow too much energy to flow through the connected circuit, which can lead to electrical fires. Also, electrical panels with fuses are older and have less room overall for modern electrical needs.
So, while there is nothing inherently wrong with fuse-based panels, it is best to have them replaced with circuit breaker electrical panels.
7. ELECTRICAL PANEL IS WARM OR HOT WHEN TOUCHED
One of the key things that an electrical panel regulates is how hot your electrical system becomes. Overheating should trigger a circuit breaker to trip and protect your home from a potential electrical fire.
But, if you have noticed that your electrical panel is warm or even hot when you touch it, that can indicate a serious problem that may end in replacing your panel altogether. To help ensure that the issue with the electrical panel, you can have one of our electricians come and troubleshoot the issue onsite.
8. RUST HAS FORMED ON THE ELECTRICAL PANEL
A clear sign of damage to your electrical panel is if there is rust on it. Any rust indicates that there has been water damage to your panel, and that’s a serious concern when it comes to your electricity.
Along with having the rusted panel replaced, it is critical that you determine what caused the water damage, whether a leak in the roof or an issue with your pipes. That way, you can protect your new electrical panel from water damage.
9. PANEL MAKES STRANGE SOUNDS
Electrical panels should operate silently, with the occasion click when a circuit breaker is popped. But sometimes, people hear buzzing or hissing sounds from their electrical panel.
Those sounds are not normal, and they should not be ignored, as they generally indicate that there is a bad wire or loose electrical connection. If left long enough, the faulty wiring can damage your electrical panels so that you need both some of the wiring replaced as well as the panel.
10. LIGHTS FLICKER OR DIM WHEN THINGS ARE PLUGGED IN
Your light shouldn’t be affected by something as simple as plugging in the vacuum or using your microwave. But if your lights are affected by these things, it can indicate that your electrical panel isn’t up for the needed power draw and needs to be replaced.
11. ELECTRICAL PANEL HAS RECEIVED DIRECT DAMAGE
While electrical panels are low-profile, they can become damaged whether it’s something falling on them or being hit by a car if the panel is located in the garage. If your electrical panel has received direct damage, it is essential that you have it checked by one of our electrical technicians and see if it requires replacement.
When it comes to taking care of your electrical system, it essential that you bring in the best electricians to help. HedgeHog Electric is your local team of expert electricians, and we are ready to assist in all your upcoming electrical projects.
Contact us and see what high-quality professionals can do to make your home safer and more efficient.