While typically reliable and safe, electrical panels can begin to show signs of wear and tear over time. If flickering lights or strange smells have left you wondering whether you should upgrade your electrical panel, you’ll want to browse through our list of warning signs that warrant hiring a local electrician to inspect it. Please note that upgrading electrical panels is dangerous and should only be handled by a professional electrician. Let’s review the signs that you need an electrical panel upgrade.
It’s Original to Your Home
The average lifespan of an electrical panel is 25 to 40 years. Even if you don’t notice any obvious signs that your circuit breaker is struggling to power your home, it may be worth having a professional electrician perform an inspection. They can quickly evaluate your home’s electrical system for signs of damage or wear and tear.
Need to Flip Breakers Constantly
It’s normal for your electrical panel to trip when an area of your home tries to draw too much power. When this happens, you have to flip the affected breaker to allow power to flow again.
This action doesn’t automatically signal a problem. But if it seems like you constantly flip breakers, it’s likely time to have an electrician inspect your breaker for issues.
Your Panel Doesn’t Use Breakers
While flipping breakers can be a sign that it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel, yours may not use breakers at all. In homes built before 1960, fuse panels directed electricity. Though revolutionary for their time, fuse panels are now a fire hazard, and you should replace them with an electrical panel. If you have to switch out a fuse instead of flipping a breaker, it’s time for an upgrade.
Your Electrical Panel is Rusted or Broken
If you open your electrical panel and spot rust or water, avoid touching it and call an electrician immediately. A rusted, broken, or corroded panel is a tell-tale sign that you’ll need to repair or replace the system, and it’s a potential fire hazard.
Not Enough Outlets
Do you often find yourself reaching for a power strip to compensate for the lack of electrical outlets throughout your home? That’s a sign that your electrical panel may not be able to handle an increase in electrical flow.
An electrician can install additional outlets if your panel can accommodate additional circuits. But if it can’t, replacing the electrical panel is in your best interest.
Warm or Hot Electrical Panel
Your circuit breaker trips if it begins to overheat. But, if you notice that your circuit breaker is warm or hot to the touch, this is a potential sign of a severe malfunction. Have an electrician out immediately to see if your panel needs an upgrade
You See Sparks When Plugging Things In
While it’s not unusual to occasionally see small sparks when plugging something into an outlet, you should stay vigilant about the size and frequency of the sparks. If you notice repeated or large sparks coming from your outlet, that’s a clear sign that something is off with your electrical system. While the cause could be a wiring or outlet problem, it’s best to heed this warning sign and hire an electrician to take a look.
Lights Flicker or Dim When Turning an Appliance On
Do your overhead kitchen lights dim when you use the microwave or start the dishwasher? If so, this is a sign there’s too much power drawn from a single circuit.
You may be able to add extra circuits, but a total replacement may be the best option. A professional electrician can let you know which route is best.
You’re Getting Ready for a Remodel
We’ve already talked about replacing your electrical panel if it’s outdated. But, when remodeling your home, it’s almost a given that you’ll have to replace your breaker as you update different parts of your home’s electrical system.
Replacing old wiring and junction boxes can be a blessing in disguise. You’ll have an electrical system that’s safer, more efficient, and boosts your resale value.
You’re Adding Additional Appliances
If you have an older home, or its previous owners had a modest appliance list, you may need to update your breaker as you update certain areas.
For example, if you’re adding a dishwasher to your kitchen or a large freezer in the basement, your current panel may not have enough juice to keep everything running. An electrician can come out and see if your panel’s amps match your home’s demand.
Benefits of Upgrading to a New Electrical Panel
The primary benefit of upgrading your electrical panel is ensuring that your home remains safe from fire and other hazards. A malfunctioning panel can cause electrical fires and other issues if not resolved quickly, so it’s essential to upgrade your panel to keep household members safe.
Aside from safety and increased peace of mind, this upgrade guarantees a steady flow of electricity to all corners of your home. Say goodbye to flickering lights and flipping breakers. This upgrade also allows you to connect additional appliances without worrying about tripping your breaker or blowing fuses.