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Electrical Panel Upgrades

Electrical Panel Upgrades

Your home’s electrical system is similar to your body’s circulation system. Imagine that your heart is an electrical panel, but instead of moving blood, it is sending power throughout the home. Now imagine that your heart has a switch in it that can reduce the flow of blood through arteries that are over capacity, before they cause a heart attack. Unfortunately, we don’t have those kinds of switches in our hearts. But your home does – the electrical panel. This is where “breaker” switches can stop electricity from overpowering circuits before they cause smoke and fires. The electrical panel is the key to managing the power in your home’s electrical system.

How Do Electrical Panels Work?

Your home’s main power line from your electricity provider company enters at a meter box attached to the exterior wall of the home. Beyond the meter box, the main line runs straight to your home’s electrical panel, which is located inside a box that is usually painted gray. Commonly called a “breaker box,” it can be attached in a wall in a garage or utility closet. The electrical panel has rows of breaker switches that control power distribution to the circuit wires. Switches that protect major electrical lines can be doubled or tripled together. These major lines are for large appliances such as clothes dryers, kitchen ovens and ranges, and heating/air conditioning systems. Generally the larger the plug on the appliance, the more power required from the system.

On the electrical panel, there should be labels next to the switches that tell the locations in the home for the outlets and the appliances connected to them. There are also numbers on the breaker switches themselves, which should correlate to the label numbers. In addition, each switch has a number embedded on the switch. These numbers tell the electrician how many amps of power the branch circuit wires can handle until the switch trips to turn off the circuit. This is also called “tripping a breaker.” In extreme power surges or failures, such as lightning strikes, a main power breaker can turn off electricity to the whole system.

Home Electrical Issues

Your home can tell you when may be a serious issue with the electrical panel. Flickering lights and overloaded outlets can trip breaker switches. Some older electrical panels might malfunction and not trip the breaker switch, which can cause a burning rubber smoky smell. Smoke, fire and melted wiring occurs when a defective or malfunctioning electrical panel fails to trip breaker switches in time. A licensed electrician should immediately inspect the electrical panel and decide if it can be replaced or if it can be repaired.

Electrical Panel Inspections

Order a professional inspection of the electrical panel if your home is more than 25 years old. Even if your home is only 10 years old, it’s a good idea to inspect the entire electrical system, including the electrical panel. Your home may need a new electrical panel if the inspection reveals:

  • Breaker switches are rusty or corroded.
  • Crackling noises can be heard from outside the breaker box.
  • When the breaker box is opened, it is noticeably warm inside.
  • More than one appliance on the same outlet reduces power to both appliances.
  • Your home experiences frequent power surges for no apparent reason.
  • You have to use extension cords inside the home because a circuit is not working properly.
  • The home is more than 25 years old and has two-pronged outlets (which are not grounded).
  • Your older home has a fuse block panel or split-buss panel, which should be replaced for safety reasons.
  • The home needs to upgrade from a 60-amp electrical service.
  • The home has 100-amp electrical service, but many appliances still do not operate properly.

Defective Older Electrical Panels

Homes that are more than 25 years old were built under lower building safety codes due to the technology of the time and lower power demands from technology devices. Your older home could have a serious heart defect – an electrical panel that has safety issues and poor design flaws. At any time these panels could break and cause smoke or even fires. Contact Mr. Electric of Arlington immediately if you think your home has one of these older, defective electrical panels.

Federal Pacific Electric Electrical Panel

These defective panels can cause fires or shocks. Installed between 1950 and 1980, these panels have been classified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as a safety defect warranting a new electrical panel.

Zinsco Electrical Panel

This dangerous electrical panel has a defective design that allows power to flow through the circuit, even though the breakers are switched off. Zinsco electrical panels also are known to overheat, melting the breaker switches, causing burn scorch marks, or even catching fire. The Zinsco panels were discontinued in the mid-1970s. They will need to be replaced if you are renovating a home built before 1980.

Pushmatic Electrical Panel

The Pushmatic breaker boxes have weak breaker switches in them, and the older they are the harder they are to reset. More dangerously, these electrical panels do not feature a main breaker switch to stop power into the panel. Replace Pushmatic electrical panels with a modern panel from Mr. Electric of Chattanooga.

Fuse Boxes

The fuse box is technically not an electrical panel, because it uses fuses and not switches. A fuse box can only handle 30-60 amps of power, but our homes require at least 200 amps of power. A fuse interrupts power to an overloaded circuit by breaking, so the broken fuse must be replaced whenever it breaks. Today, most fuses cannot even be purchased or obtained. Old fuse boxes are at high risk of fires and electrocution. Call Mr. Electric of Arlington to remove fuse boxes and install electrical panels with breaker boxes. At the same time, if it is an older home, Mr. Electric can inspect the electrical system for local code standards and determine if it should be repaired, rewired, or replaced.

Plan Ahead for Renovations

When you are making a renovation or major improvement to your home, be sure to take additional power into account. You may need to have a breaker box installed or an electrical panel expanded. More power might be required for room additions, kitchen remodels, and home additions. Heating & air conditioning systems, power generators, hot tubs, garage door openers, and other major appliances may need modern outlets, special 240-volt circuits or sub-panels. It’s similar to your heart beating harder when you have added muscle from working out so much. Mr. Electric can do a power assessment for you to determine how much power you will need.

Your Home’s New Electric Life

During home electrical inspections, our licensed electricians will measure how much power is being used on the circuits, and they will check the electrical panel to make sure it is up to code and safe. Our electricians can install a new breaker box and panel that will exceed local building codes. Mr. Electric of Arlington services residential electrical panels in throughout the Arlington area, including Dalworthington Gardens, Kennedale, Mansfield and Pantego. Call Mr. Electric today to schedule an appointment – we have the power to make things better!