Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Much like the heart pumping blood throughout your body, the electrical panel is the regulatory system that holds it all together in the organism that is your home. Without it, your living quarters would be missing a circulatory system that is vital to keep things running smoothly.

If there is too much of an electrical load on a circuit, your electrical panel’s circuit breaker trips to prevent the electricity from overloading the wiring. The electrical panel is absolutely imperative to stop accidents from happening by breaking the circuit and regulating your electricity to keep you and your family safe from fires caused by overloads.

As your home gets older and your appliances get newer, your electrical panel may have a difficult time keeping up with increased electrical demands placed on the system. Gadgets like TVs, computers, game consoles, and microwaves are becoming more energy efficient, but add them all together and it turns out that they are still zapping up quite a bit of electricity like the energy vampires that they are. If your home is over a decade old, it may be hard for your panel to keep up with all that you’re throwing at it!

Your circuit breaker panel is outdated if it runs on bulbs, dates back to the ‘60s, or has been stitched together to coddle your electrical needs. Outdated panels are one of the most common electrical issues in Florida, and faulty units increase the risk of fire hazards and blackouts, putting you at risk while seriously damaging the value of your home.

Let’s explore what we can do about it.

How an electrical panel works

Your electric company sends the main power line directly to an electrical panel inside the breaker box, which is usually gray and found in a utility room, garage, closet or basement. Inside the breaker box is a row of switches that make up the electrical panel, which distributes the main power line into smaller branch lines. Some of these switches are doubled or tripled together to power appliances that need the most electricity.

On the inside of the breaker box door should be a label that features the locations of the outlets and appliances that correspond with the numbers on the switches. The numbers on the switches themselves reveal how many amps the branch line can carry before the breaker trips off. In addition, the panel has a main power breaker that is able to power off the entire system.

If your breakers are tripping often, you may have a malfunctioning or defective panel. Or, a panel might fail to trip, which could lead to someone getting shocked or a fire breaking out. It’s imperative to look after your electrical panel if it is ailing or faulty so this doesn’t happen.

Checking your electrical panel

If you’re concerned about the status of your electrical panel, look out for these signs to see if it’s time to upgrade and update the nucleus of your electricity:

  • Your appliances are not performing at their highest function

  • Your lights are flickering

  • Your panel looks melted or corroded

  • Your breaker trips when you use multiple appliances

  • You’re constantly using extension cords

  • You hear crackling sounds from the panel

  • Your home has a 60-amp electrical service

  • Your home has a 100-amp electrical service but still isn’t able to operate some appliances

  • The interior of the breaker box feels warm

  • Your home has two-pronged outlets rather than three-pronged grounded outlets

  • Your home has fuses rather than circuit breakers

  • Outlets near sinks, tubs, dishwashers, and other water sources are not equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) that stop electricity and prevent electrocution if an appliance comes into contact with water

Replace bad breaker boxes

If your home is older than 25 years, your breaker box definitely needs a checkup. However, specific types of electrical panels from decades ago are now known to have safety issues and defective designs. Panels installed after 1990 are generally safe, but contact us immediately to replace any of the following panels:

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels

Federal Pacific Electric panels were installed in millions of homes from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, but have a defect where they fail to trip when there’s a short circuit or circuit overload. This problem has caused thousands of fires across the United States, including in central Florida. FPE circuits also reportedly send power to the circuit even when in the off position, which causes electrocution.

Zinsco Panels

Zinsco panels were popular throughout the ‘70s and are now defunct, even though many homes still have them. They also allow the flow of power even when the breakers are switched off. They also melt to the main ‘bus bar,’ meaning the breaker can never trip, even when there’s a short or overloaded circuit. This is a fire hazard and an immediate replacement is necessary.

Pushmatic Electrical Panel

These panels do not come equipped with a main breaker switch to shut off all power to the panel and house weak switches that become increasingly difficult to reset.

Fuse Boxes

Fuses aren’t inherently unsafe and work like circuit breakers except for the fact that they cannot be reset and must be replaced after they burn out. Most fuse boxes in today’s homes have been modified to best serve new energy demands, which can make things unsafe.

Plugging in too many electrical appliances to a single outlet can lead to fuses blowing out a lot, as fuse boxes typically have fewer circuits. Many homeowners end up replacing a fuse with a bigger fuse, which could create a fire hazard. If you’re unsure if you have a fuse box, open up your electrical panel. You’ll know if you see fuses rather than switches, or circuit breakers.

Upgrade your panel

If you have an unsafe and outdated electrical panel such as these, we highly recommend seeking the services of a trusted electrician. If your circuit breaker isn’t able to handle your daily needs, our talented team would be happy to offer a consultation so we can strategize your next move.

Call us today at (924) 577-7923 for any and all issues related to your electrical needs. We look forward to answering your questions, hearing your concerns, and discussing any issues you may be having.

Chris Pacchioli