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5 Warning Signs that You Should Replace Your Circuit Breaker Panel

If you have an older house, your breakers may not support all the modern electrical devices you use. When that’s the problem with your home, you will need an electrical panel upgrade or replacement. Your breaker box, also known as an electrical panel, contains all the circuit breakers for your home.

Inside the metal box on your wall, typically in your basement or utility room, the breakers typically look like large light switches. They’re often gray or black, and they may be horizontal or vertical.

When replacing your breaker box, it’s vital to understand the entirety of your electrical system so that all of your appliances and electronics can be safe. Having an experienced electrician conduct these electrical breaker services will ensure that your system is operating safely.

What Do Circuit Breakers Do?

Breakers in your home have an important job directing electrical power from your home’s supply to outlets, appliances, and devices. They also play a key role in keeping your entire system safe. By limiting the capacity in your home and each outlet, they prevent the wiring from getting overwhelmed during power surges.

How Does Circuit Breaker Box Replacement Protect Your Home?

In an ideal scenario, the electrical circuits in your home’s breaker box automatically turn off (or trip) to prevent devices or appliances from overheating when the circuit gets overloaded. This happens when the circuit hits its safe limit.

Usually, all you need to do is unplug an appliance and plug it into a different wall outlet. Then, you can reset the breaker. But sometimes, just flipping the breaker switch back on doesn’t cut it or isn’t safe. That’s when it might be time to consider an electrical panel replacement for your home.

5 Symptoms of A Bad Circuit Breaker

Nobody wants an electrical fire in their home. Electrical safety is important, which is why you need a properly working circuit breaker. If you notice these warning signs a breaker is going bad, it’s time to replace your home’s service panel:

1. Overloaded Circuits

Each circuit in the electrical panel has a capacity that is limited by the size of the wiring in the wall, the rating of the circuit breaker, and the number of outlets on that circuit. If breakers are tripping frequently or you don’t have enough outlets for all your devices, it may be time to consider a service panel upgrade, along with additional circuits, to spread the load more evenly.

2. Flickering Lights

If your lights flicker or dim when you turn on a device, you may be reaching the limit of your service panel’s capacity. Many older homes had 60- to 150-amp electrical service, while modern homes have 150-, 200-, or even 400-amp service.

That current is divided between all the circuits in your home, and if you are near the peak of your capacity, lights may flicker when a high-powered device turns on, even if it is on a separate circuit.

3. Evidence of Overheating

When you have breakers or outlets that are warm to the touch, scorched, or emitting a burnt or fish-like odor, it may be time to upgrade your electrical panel. All of these are signs of overheating, which could lead to an electrical fire. A professional electrical inspection will be required to determine if you truly have a damaged or bad electrical panel.

4. Breakers That Are Damaged

If you have circuit breakers that won’t reset properly, stay on, trip when overloaded, or are physically damaged, it may be time to replace the breakers or update the entire panel.

Damaged breakers can short-circuit or overheat, increasing the chances of a fire. At a minimum, you should have an electrician inspect your breakers every three or so years. This way, your home will be safe from electrical disasters.

5. An Outdated Panel

If you have an older home, there is a good chance that your electrical panel is undersized, outdated, not up to modern code standards, or even defective or dangerous. 

For instance, some panels have a split bus that has up to six main breakers, with one controlling the individual circuits in your home and others for major appliances. There is no single disconnect that turns off all the power, unlike modern panels, which could lead to shock hazards if the wrong breaker is left energized while working on the electrical system.

Other service panels, like Zinsco or Federal Pacific Electric models, were known to be defective and unsafe, while fuse-based panels are outdated, inconvenient, and dangerous when used incorrectly, such as replacing a lower-rated fuse with a higher-rated one.

Should I Replace My Electrical Panel?

Don’t ignore the symptoms of bad breakers because the consequences can be costly and dangerous. From damaging your electronics or appliances to frying your entire system, you need to be cautious of these issues. If your electrical panel is over 25 years old or showing signs of severe problems, have an experienced electrician upgrade your unit. 

Protect yourself, your family, your home, and your valuable property from danger with one call to GAC Services. Our electricians will replace your electrical panel and ensure that it is operating properly.

If you live in Montgomery County, Frederick County, Carroll County, or Howard County, Maryland, contact us by calling (301) 591-6143, and we’ll talk about upgrading your system.

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