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Upgrade Your Electrical Panel Before You Plug in Decorations

Ready to decorate your yard Griswold style? Before any Lampoon-like disasters, you may want to reconsider upgrading your breaker box. A most wonderful time of the year for house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each holiday season an average of 150 homes are burned, 8 people killed, and 14 injured due to incorrect use of holiday lights.

Before you deck the halls – deck your wall with a new electrical panel

All those lights covering your roof, windows, trees and bushes might not seem as powerful as your jumbo-size snow blower, but multiplied by each strand and in combination with your Stay-Puft size inflatable snowman, they can put quite a load on your electrical system. Even seemingly modest plans can strain the system of older homes. In fact, if your home is more than a mere 20 years old, chances are good your breaker box and meter are no longer up-to-date, and would greatly benefit from a 100 amp or higher meter and breaker box boost.

Thinking maybe you’ll return those extra lights with that ugly holiday sweater?

Those Christmas lights aren’t the only thing stressing your electrical panel. Chances are your merry home is also decked out with large heating and air systems, multiple flat screen TVs and refrigerators, dryers, dishwashers, microwave and toaster ovens, hair dryers, and an endless array of mobile devices sucking down juice, combined requiring more power than many older homes have the electrical capacity to manage.

Why don’t I just bump up my breakers?

Yikes. Occasionally homeowners burn out on resetting a breaker, replacing it with one larger than the wire it’s connected to is rated to carry. This is never a good idea, as it increases the possibility of overload, and is why today’s current electrical panels require GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) to further protect against overload and electrocution risks. If you’re experiencing issues with repeatedly tripping breakers, have your box professionally inspected to identify issues.

How can you know for sure it’s time to upgrade?

You live in an older home.

Electrical panels are only designed to last about 25-40 years. Worse, some somewhat newer panels house defective/recalled components the average homeowner is ignorant of. Complicating matters, homes pre-1950 were often build with only 30, 50, or 60 amp service, which is just not enough power for today’s home.

Lights dim when large appliances turn on.

If the lights in your home dim or flicker when your HVAC, microwave, hairdryer, or other energy sucking appliance is switched on, it’s a dead giveaway of the need for an upgrade.

Breakers trip frequently – or not at all.

Worn out panels are more susceptible surges. If you’re resetting breakers a few times a week, your box is in need of some serious attention. Also, if breaker resets do not restore power – or your box/breakers doesn’t shut off during overload -  you may have a faulty service panel.

Signs of electrical fire within the panel.

Dark discoloration – scorch marks – indicate a need for professional assistance right away.

It’s Christmastime – don’t blow it. (Literally.) Protect your home and family from fire and electrocution hazards this holiday season. Deck those halls safely, boosting resale value with the addition of a new electrical panel. Contact Mr. Electric today.