Your home’s electrical panel, also called a load center, accepts the main power into the house from the powerline and then distributes it to each area of your home. Older houses often have fuse boxes, and newer homes typically have circuit breakers.
Generally, panels only have a 25 to 40-year lifespan. If you live in an older home and suspect that your panel is more than 40-years old, it’s time to have it inspected by an electrician.
In this article, we’re sharing four telltale signs that your electrical panel is ready for an upgrade.
1. Low Electrical Capacity
Many older homes were designed with 60 or 100-amp electrical panels, but that may not be enough to support the collection of appliances in modern homes. Modern homes often have 200-amp panels, or 400-amp if it’s a very large home. Small electronics like a new blender or toaster won’t overdraw power, but purchasing a new refrigerator, water heater, air conditioner, or other large appliance may place a greater demand on your panel than it can handle.
An adequately sized panel will help your appliances run more efficiently and lower your fire risk. Using too many appliances on an under-sized panel increases the chances of overloading the panel. The best-case scenario is that your fuse will blow, or the circuit will trip. The worst-case scenario is that there’s a poor wiring connection, or the fuse doesn’t blow soon enough, causing a fire.
Signs that your panel’s electrical capacity is too low are:
- Lots of blown fuses or breaker trips,
- Lights that dim when you turn on another appliance, or
- Using a lot of extension cords to power your appliances because you don’t have sufficient outlets.
2. Faulty or Deteriorating Wiring
Older homes may not meet current electrical codes, especially since electrical wiring deteriorates over time. If your home is more than a few decades old, you should have an electrician inspect the wiring to your panel and throughout your home.
NOTE: You don’t always have to replace your wiring when you upgrade your panel. However, if your wiring is wearing out, it’s smart to replace the panel and wiring at the same time.
Signs that your wiring is wearing out are:
- Flickering lights,
- Small shocks when you touch appliances, or
- Burn marks on your outlet covers.
3. You’re Remodeling
A great time to redo your wiring or upgrade your panel is when you’re already adding onto your home or remodeling. Your existing panel is likely not going to be sufficient to power the addition. You can add a separate panel to justify the addition, or you can upgrade your existing panel to accommodate the larger home.
If you’re already remodeling your home, the timing is right to replace your wiring and panel. It would be a shame to have to tear out your walls a second time if something goes wrong, or you need to upgrade your electrical setup shortly after completing a remodel.
4. Denied for Home Insurance
Some insurance companies or policies will not insure homes with fuse boxes. If you’re planning to sell your home or are struggling to get insurance coverage, it may be time to upgrade to a circuit breaker.
Benefits of Upgrading
The primary benefit of upgrading your electrical panel is increased protection from fires for your family and your property. Also, modern panels add value to your home if you intend to sell it in the future.
If you want to have your existing panel inspected or you’re ready to begin upgrading, get in touch with Barnett Electrical today.