Many people never give their home circuit breaker a second thought. However, your circuit breaker isn't something that will last forever. Eventually, you will have to upgrade to something that can better handle your electrical load. You may also need to do it sooner than you think if you notice any of these signs:
The Obvious Signs You Need a Breaker Panel Upgrade
There are many obvious signs that you need a breaker panel upgrade or replacement:.
Frequent tripping – There are many reasons for a circuit breaker to trip, but if it's happening constantly, you may have an older electrical panel that needs replacement. You may also have a panel that cannot keep up with your energy needs in general.
Obvious signs of damage – Open your panel. What do you see and smell? If you see signs of fire, such as soot, discoloration, or charring, it's possible that your wires are constantly starting small fires. If you smell the telltale signs of fire or burning wires, then it means the same thing. You may also see corrosion and melted components. These are all signs that it's time to upgrade the panel.
Aged or aging fuse boxes – If your home still has a fuse box rather than a breaker panel, then you certainly need to upgrade. Many insurance companies will have a problem with insuring a home with older fuse boxes and wiring. Also, fuse boxes are generally less safe.
This also holds true for older breaker panels as well. The components that make up panels do deteriorate over time. That deterioration will cause electrical problems.
The Not-So-Obvious Signs You Need a Breaker Panel Upgrade
There are some signs that people live with. It gets to the point where certain behaviors of your home electricity becomes the norm.
- When you plug in the vacuum or turn on the AC, do the lights briefly dim?
- Do you trip the breaker if you turn on a hairdryer while the clothes dryer is running?
- Do appliances operate weakly as if they're not receiving enough power?
These aren't things you're supposed to assume are normal. These are the not-so-obvious signs that you need a breaker panel upgrade, repair, or replacement.
Proactive Upgrading of Your Breaker Panel
You don't have to wait for things to go wrong before you upgrade your breaker panel. It should represent a consideration for any number of reasons. For example:
- Adding large appliances or more electronics
- Upgrading other wiring in or around the home
- Adding additional outlets
- Doing a remodel, renovation, or adding a new section to the home
In all of these cases, you should consider upgrading your panel. You may not have to, but there's a good chance that you should at least speak to an electrician about the possibility. Whenever you add electrical load, you should think about your breaker panel.