The electrical panel of most homes are fairly robust as they must meet high standards before the home can be put on the market. However, even electrical boxes may need upgrades from time to time. The reasons vary from needing maintenance and repairs to upgrading the appliances in the home or adding new electrical outlets.

Whatever the reason, the first step is identifying whether the electrical panel needs to be upgraded. This may mean hiring an electrician to get a proper inspection. But there are a few basic things you can do before taking that step.

Breaker Panels

This is an electrical panel that coordinates the wiring of the outlets and larger appliances in the home. It is sometimes called a breaker box or fuse box, but all modern versions have on and off switches that control which outlets and larger appliances receive the electricity. Most electrical panels are found in the hallway, garage, or in a closet. Some homes have more than one electrical panels depending on their design:

  • Main Breaker: Here, you can shut off all the power
  • Main Lug: This is a separate shut off system usually near where the main power comes into the home.
  • Transfer Switches: Usually found in workshops, greenhouses, or separate rooms that have specific power requirements

The panel will have circuit breakers that may be single or double pole, arc fault or ground fault circuit interrupters. Ground faults usually exist in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens to prevent electrocution. Arc faults are present if the wires become exposed or damaged.

When Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?

A good circuit breaker panel should last up to 40 years or longer, but there are signs in which you should consider getting the breaker panel inspected, maintenance, and perhaps replaced. One of the most common is dimming or flickering lights and appliances that do not run at full capacity. If this is happening, then you might have an outdated or overloaded panel.

Frequent Tripping: Circuit breakers will trip from time to time, but if they start tripping regularly then you might have an issue. This is especially true if you hear a crackling sound. Too many appliances plugged into one outlet often causes the tripping, so remove some of them.

Odor: If you smell a burning odor, that is an indication of a circuit breaker going bad or a wire that might have slipped. Either way, you are at risk for an electrical fire.

Old: If your breaker panel is more than 40 years old or it is so old that it still has fuses, then you’ll want to upgrade to a panel with proper circuit breakers. Fuses can burn out which require replacement while circuit breakers simply need to be flipped back on.

Warm: The panel itself should be cool to the touch. If it is warm, that might be a sign of overload or something defective in the panel. Call an electrician if the panel is warm.

Before you upgrade your electrical panel, call a qualified, reliable electrician for an inspection. Quite often, they can identify issues that have nothing to do with the panel itself while solving the problem.

Contact Luxus Construction to get started. Please call 310-270-8596 for more information.

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