Electrical Panels: When to Repair and When to Replace

Your home’s electrical panel should last for decades, but it won’t last forever. Here’s what you need to know about when to repair and when to replace your Charlotte home’s electrical panel.

Indoor Lights Frequently Dim or Flicker

Your home’s lights should dim only when connected to a dimmer switch. Any other instances of dimming or flickering signal a problem with your electrical panel or your utility company. Utilities can sometimes experience brownouts or lower availability as a result of major storms or blown transformers. These are usually isolated situations, and you’ll know whether they’re the root of your problem after a quick phone call to your utility company.

If you notice that your lights frequently dim, especially when you use appliances like microwaves, hair dryers, and air conditioners, your electrical panel may need to be replaced. Consult an electrician to learn whether your home’s panel is still capable of providing the electricity you need or whether it’s time to consider an upgrade.

Circuit Breakers Fail

Your home relies on circuit breakers to protect its electrical system from both overloaded circuits and short circuits. The breakers work by interrupting the flow of electricity when they detect one of these two issues. Though they work automatically, circuit breakers occasionally fail by neglecting to stop flow in the event of a dangerous situation. Broken circuit breakers don’t usually require a complete panel replacement. Instead, call an electrician to repair and replace the malfunctioning breaker.

Circuit Breakers Regularly Trip

Circuit breakers typically last for decades without requiring major maintenance, but when they start to malfunction, it’s time to take a closer look. When your electrical system causes a breaker to trip, you can usually just reset it and resume normal use. Breakers that trip regularly, however, signal a larger issue like an overloaded circuit.

Homes older than 30 or 40 years were originally constructed with different electrical standards. Though this doesn’t automatically mean your electrical system is unsafe, it can mean that the system doesn’t support your modern demands. Older electrical panels can’t always accommodate multiple devices like air conditioners, HDTVs, and clothes dryers running simultaneously.

Regularly tripped circuit breakers and overloaded circuits typically require a completely new electrical panel. An electrician can advise you about how much power your home really needs. Older homes’ electrical panels often top out at 60 or 100 amps, but most newer homes have 200-amp panels that meet your family’s electricity needs now with plenty of room for future growth.

The Electrical Panel Feels Warm

A warm electrical panel or a slight burning smell around the panel tends to be a sign of a big problem. These issues usually indicate that the wiring behind the panel is frayed or exposed. Because damaged or exposed wires can cause fires in your home and lead to the loss of your breaker box, it’s best to replace the entire electrical panel when these issues come to your attention.

A licensed electrician will remove the electrical panel and inspect the wiring for problems before replacing the unit. By updating the panel and getting experienced advice on the state of your wiring, you can rest assured that your home’s electrical system is safe.

The Panel Has an Outdated Design

Electrical panels have evolved over time, and many designs that were common in the mid-20th century no longer meet contemporary electrical needs. If your panel has a split-buss design, which relies on a half-dozen breakers instead of a single primary circuit breaker, a replacement might be in order. This design met homeowners’ needs 40 years ago, but the number of devices most homes power and the amount of power most homes need today makes these outdated panels susceptible to overload.

Some older panels manufactured by certain companies haven’t been available for over a decade due to a long list of significant safety issues. If you suspect your electrical panel is one of these outdated models, be sure to contact an electrician right away to discuss a replacement.

Does your home’s electrical panel need repair or replacement? Call the experienced electricians at Luminous Electric today.

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