When Should You Replace Your Electrical Panel

Electrical panels (also called breaker panels) have a lifespan of anywhere from 25-40 years. If you live in an older home, or you just haven’t inspected your panel in a while, it might be a good idea to give it a once over. Your electrical panel could be showing signs of wear, even if you haven’t been having issues with your electrical system.

If you notice any of these signs, be sure to contact an electrician to determine if you are in need of a repair or replacement of your electrical panel:

• Rust inside the electrical panel – Rust indicates the presence of water, and water and electricity are a dangerous mix.

• Tripping circuit breakers – This could be caused by overloaded or faulty circuits or an undersized wire.

• Undersized electrical panels – Many older homes have electrical panels that are not designed to handle an increased electrical load. You may also need a larger panel to accommodate more people or appliances in the home.

• Scorching inside the electrical panel – Signs of overheating, such as scorch marks or melting, can indicate a breakdown in the wiring that could lead to a fire. 

• Faulty breakers – These should be tested regularly and replaced as needed since they are a primary component in ensuring the electrical panel is working correctly.

• Bad or old wiring – Wiring can show signs of wear and tear over time and need replacing. Plus, bad wiring practices put your home and family at risk.

• Dimming or flickering lights – This can be caused by bad wiring or an overloaded electrical panel.

• Frequent overloading of power strips – If you frequently use and overload power strips in your home, you could damage the appliance and overload your electrical panel. The installation of dedicated circuits could help.

FAQs

The circuits in your electrical panel play a major role in keeping your home safe from electrical hazards. If one or more of them are frequently tripping, it’s important to pay attention. There are a few reasons why your breakers might be tripping:

  • Overloaded circuit – This happens when a circuit receives more electricity than it’s designed to handle. This could be caused by loose or damaged wires. It could also be a sign that one or more appliances using that circuit should have their own dedicated circuit instead. If this is the issue, you will notice the circuit tripping when you run two or more appliances that are sharing the same circuit.
  • Short circuit – This happens when electrical wires are damaged or loose, allowing the electricity to escape the wire’s casing. If this is the issue, you will notice the circuit tripping when you run the appliance and no other appliances are connected to that same circuit. You can determine whether the short is in the appliance or the circuit itself by plugging the appliance into a different outlet. Short circuits can pose a fire risk, and you may see sparks or smell smoke. It is important not to use appliances or outlets with short circuits until a qualified electrician can inspect them.
  • Ground fault – This happens when the electricity that is supposed to be traveling a wired path through your home finds an alternate path to the ground. This can be caused by damaged wires, equipment, and/or contact with water. Ground faults can be particularly dangerous because they can cause electrical shock. Today, GFCI outlets can prevent most ground-fault dangers and are required to be installed in kitchens and bathrooms. A qualified electrician will be able to detect any ground faults in your home or property.
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If you are having issues with tripping circuit breakers that cannot be fixed by replacing an appliance, don’t hesitate to give our licensed electricians a call. We will work with you to diagnose and solve the problem to keep your home safe.

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