For many homeowners, their electrical panel is a piece of equipment that they never think about until the power goes out. While every home electrical panel should be replaced after a certain number of years, there are also signs that may indicate a replacement is needed immediately. Operating appliances and systems from a damaged or insufficient panel amplifies safety risks. Here at Comfort All-Stars, we can inspect your electrical panel to determine if repairs need to be made or if an entire replacement is required.
How Long Do Home Electrical Panels Typically Last?
The standard lifespan for a home electrical panel is anywhere from 25-40 years depending on numerous factors. Everything from power surges and manufacturer defects to wear and tear can reduce the unit’s lifespan.
Once an electrical panel is at least 25 years old, the risks of using the panel increase. Even if the panel doesn’t need to be replaced, an electrical inspection is a good idea to make sure that the system is still functioning properly. If you notice that your home is experiencing regular power surges or that some of your outlets aren’t functioning correctly, it could be the result of a malfunctioning electrical panel.
Even if your existing electrical panel continues to function properly, installing new and large appliances in your home can lead to more stress being placed on an older panel. A replacement panel that accommodates more energy may be a suitable addition to your home.
You Need More Power
If your home is outfitted with an older electrical panel, this unit might have less space for circuits. It’s also possible that it won’t be capable of delivering as much power when compared to newer units. Before the 21st century, household electrical demands weren’t that high. Over time, however, an increasing amount of energy is needed to power a home.
Several decades ago, electrical panels were equipped with a circular meter enclosure that allowed for as much as 60 amps of power. The next major upgrade that occurred allowed for 125 amps of power with a sizable meter enclosure in a square shape. Today, most electrical panels use large wires and allow for as much as 200 amps.
Your Breakers Are Unreliable
The majority of home electrical panels will only accommodate a breaker of the same brand to be installed alongside them. Older electrical panels from brands like Zinsco and Federal Pacific Electric aren’t being manufactured these days, which has caused breakers for these branded panels to cost well over $100 to effectively replace. It’s also possible that the breakers will be unreliable and might not trip as often as they should. Replacing this type of panel with a new one can get rid of these issues for good.
You Notice a Burning Smell
If you notice that a burning smell is coming from any area where electricity is being used, this is an issue that should be addressed. It’s possible that your panel is the cause of this problem. For instance, a burning smell might indicate that a plastic jacket from an electrical wire is melting.
It may also indicate burnt wood, which is a sign of an electrical fire. If you contact us when you first notice a burnt smell, our electrician will arrive at your home quickly to determine the source of the smell and if an electrical panel replacement is required.
You Don’t Have Enough Outlets
A replacement might be necessary if your home doesn’t have enough outlets. Even though this problem can be resolved with a power strip or two, you shouldn’t feed too much power to a single outlet.
If your existing electrical panel has extra space, more dedicated circuits can be added to accommodate the installation of new outlets. If, on the other hand, your electrical panel doesn’t have enough room for more circuits, the entire panel might need to be replaced.
Your Current Panel Has Fuses
It’s possible that your home is equipped with an electrical panel that has fuses as opposed to circuit breakers. While fuses and circuit breakers serve the same function, fuse-based panels are usually overtaxed in comparison to circuit breaker panels. When one fuse blows, it needs to be replaced completely. When a circuit breaker is tripped, the switch just needs to be turned back on for the power to be restored.
Many homeowners with fuse-based panels try to avoid issues with blown fuses by having larger fuses installed. The issue with this approach is that large fuses send too much energy to the connected circuit, which substantially increases the risk of an electrical fire. Electrical panels that contain fuses also have less room for modern electrical requirements. If you decide to upgrade to a new unit, we can install it for you.
You Purchased a Major Appliance
Likely the most common reason to replace a home electrical panel is that the older panels don’t have the power capabilities to handle more modern appliances. If you’re getting ready to purchase a new air conditioner, dishwasher, or oven, consider having your electrical panel inspected. If the power requirements of your new appliance are moderately higher, a dedicated circuit for the appliance could be installed in your existing panel.
You Hear Strange Noises
You should also consider having your electrical panel replaced if you’re hearing odd noises that seem to be coming from the panel. It’s essential that you don’t ignore these sounds. An electrical panel should be practically silent at all times. The only sound you should hear from the panel is a click in the event that a circuit breaker pops.
If you hear any buzzing or hissing sounds from the panel, contact our team of electricians immediately to make sure that your system isn’t damaged any further. When we inspect your system, we can determine if a simple repair is required or if the entire system should be replaced.
You Notice Signs of Physical Damage
If you look at your home’s electrical panel and see any smoke or scorch marks, these are signs of physical damage that shouldn’t be there. It’s possible that one or more wires within the panel have melted or been damaged in some way. When a wire melts, an electrical fire is a serious concern that could occur if the issue isn’t promptly dealt with.
If ever you notice these signs, make sure that all devices in your home are unplugged, after which you should disconnect your power. The next step is to call our company to request an inspection.
At Comfort All-Stars, we can replace any existing electrical panel with the panel of your choosing. Residents in Tampa, FL, can contact us to schedule our electrical services, which include everything from electrical maintenance and repair to home electrical inspections and LED lighting upgrades. We can also install whole-panel surge protection to keep your home electronics from being damaged. Along with our electrical services, you can request our heating and cooling, indoor air quality, and duct cleaning services. Since 2018, we’ve remained a customer-focused business backed by over 30 years of industry experience. Call Comfort All-Stars today to learn more about upgrading your home electrical panel.