When it comes to electricity and electrical circuits, safety is crucial. Studies show that electrical faults are the third leading cause of home fires in the United States and that the most common electrical hazard in buildings, is an outdated electrical panel.
When called out in an emergency, trained electricians can troubleshoot any electrical fault and advise if the electrical panel needs replacement. There are also some obvious signs, that even someone with no electrical experience will recognize, indicating that the electrical panel may need to be replaced.
The electrical panel houses all the circuit breakers that control every electrical aspect of the home. This important feature in every home is not often at the forefront of a homeowner’s mind unless it is giving problems. Obvious signs that the electrical panel is faulty, or may need maintenance or replacing include:
If the electrical panel smells like it is burning, or looks scorched, it needs urgent attention, as it could result in an electrical fire. The burning smell could be due to:
Other dangerous signs that an electrical fire is imminent include:
Circuit breakers are designed to trip if the electrical circuit is drawing too much power. If circuit breakers are constantly tripping, it could be a sign that the electrical panel is faulty and needs replacing.
Extra outlets or dedicated circuits can be accommodated in the electrical panel if the panel is large enough and there is room. If the panel is old, or too small, it may need to be replaced.
Large electrical appliances require large amounts of electrical current. If the panel is too small, these appliances could overload the existing electrical circuit. The addition of large electrical appliances usually necessitates an electrical panel replacement.
Older buildings have electrical panels with fuses (instead of circuit breakers) that often blow and need to be replaced. To prevent the fuses from blowing, people tend to use thicker electrical wires that can hold more current, but these are a fire hazard. Electrical panels with fuses are considered outdated. They often cannot accommodate modern electrical needs and should be replaced.
A panel that feels warm/hot to touch could indicate that the electrical circuit is overheating. In this instance, the circuit breaker should trip to protect the circuit and prevent a fire. A panel that feels hot to touch must urgently be inspected by an electrician and will probably need replacing.
If there is visible rust on the electrical panel, you can be sure that the panel has been exposed to water and that there is water damage. A qualified electrician must inspect the electrical panel to find the water source. An electrical panel with water damage usually needs to be replaced.
Electrical panels do not make any noise. The only acceptable noise is the click that is created when a circuit breaker trips. If your electrical panel is making buzzing or hissing noises, it needs to be inspected immediately, and will probably need replacing.
Lights should not flicker or dim when appliances like microwave ovens or vacuum cleaners are in use. Flickering or dimming lights usually indicate that the electrical panel is not able to supply the power that is needed. In these cases, the panel will need to be upgraded or replaced.
Electrical panels installed in the garage often get damaged by vehicles or other heavy items. Damaged electrical panels must be inspected immediately, and usually need to be replaced.
When a building is remodeled, the electrical panel usually needs to be upgraded or replaced. Qualified electricians must always be consulted whenever additions to the electrical circuit are required.
Electrical panels older than 25 years should be replaced. Most electrical panels have a lifespan of about 25 years provided:
Electrical maintenance, repair, and upgrades must only be carried out by certified and licensed electricians because of the following:
Do you think that your electrical panel may need replacing? Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric have been South Florida’s electricians of choice since 1983. For any electrical installation, maintenance, and repair, call us at 1-800-475-1504.
For Immediate Emergency Assistance Call 1-800-475-1504