Electrical Panel - When Should Yours Be Replaced

There’s no need for smoke to be leaking out of the old electrical panel before you consider replacing it.  As a matter of fact, if you have waited that long you may just be too late.  An electrical fire is one many risks to an outdated or overloaded electrical panel.

The electrical panel is the heart of your home’s electrical system. The panel connects to the power lines and brings current to the circuits in your home. The panel also contains the circuit breakers which prevent overloads.

Lack of maintenance is one of the top reasons why these electrical panels require repairs. The homeowner might find an older system constantly in need of fixing, which can become expensive.

How do I KNOW that I need a new electrical panel?

Frequently news reports on catastrophic fires give electrical wiring problems as the cause. The National Fire Protection Agency estimates that electrical problems caused 144,000 house fires over a four-year period. Of course, you don’t want that to happen to your home.  Some of the warning signals might be dimming lights, discolored power outlets, burning odor, or minor electric shocks. If the electrical system in your home is still using fuses, it’s time to move up to circuit breakers. Fuses are outdated and may pose a safety hazard.

Let our certified electricians help you decide.

The first thing on the list for a certified electrical technician would be to examine the current system. Technicians frequently provide a free initial inspection. In many older homes our electrician will find an older panel providing 60 amps of power, or perhaps a standard breaker-type panel at 100 amps. Today, 200-amp panels are recommended. These panels allow for future upgrades and are better when you resell the house.

A Sure Sign of Trouble

If there has been a water leak anywhere near your panel, call a professional immediately. Leaks can be dangerous and need to be fixed right away. A less obvious sign of a water problem is when you see rust stains on the panel cover or a chalky white corrosion on wiring and other metal parts.   

Give your electrical box a regular check up

You’ve heard “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” How about a new phrase: “If it ain’t broke, still check it?”  

Once again this is a job for a certified electrician. This is especially true if you are living in an older home. One particularly troublesome piece of equipment is the Stab-Lok electrical panels manufactured by Federal Pacific, a company now out of business. If your home was built between 1950-1990, you might have one of these panels. One licensed electrician said he replaces approximately 300 of the Stab-Lok panels each year. With an estimated 28 million still in use, your home might have one. In addition, your homeowner’s insurance might increase if you have Stab-Lok.

You might say, “I’ve lived in this house for years and haven’t had a problem.” You are a fortunate person.  One of the main purposes of a circuit breaker is to shut down a line when it is overloaded and prevent a fire. Too often Stab-Lok breakers fail to shut down the circuit.  A visual test will not determine if you have a problem. Once again, this task is best carried out by a certified technician. The Stab-Lok panels and circuit breakers are labeled.  If you see this on your panel, have it checked out. 

Getting a new panel

Think about all the electronics in your home.  From the flat-screen TV, to kids’ games, to sensitive financial and work-related data stored on your computers. Do you want to risk that to an aging, or malfunctioning breaker box? Probably not. Of course, any new installations must conform to the local electrical code. Your Maryland-certified electrician will make sure you are equipped with an electrical panel that will have you worry free for years to come.

An electrical inspection may not be required when you are rehabbing a kitchen or converting your basement into more living space. Still, an inspection of the electrical panel makes sense. Find out about potential problems before they become a nightmare.

Contact Hass and Sons for a professional installation or inspection of your electrical equipment in central Maryland. Get a free quote at 443-396-3797.

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