Top 8 Signs That You Need an Electrical Panel Upgrade

electricians looking at electrical panel

There are over 46,700 home electrical fires every year. They cause 390 deaths and 1,3000 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage.

Keeping your electrical panel up-to-date is one of the best ways to protect yourself from these infernos. It also helps you enjoy your current devices or appliances and complete remodels.

Read on for the top eight signs that you need an electrical panel upgrade.

1. Damage

Electrical panels don't always make it obvious that they need to be serviced. Open yours up and take a look inside, but don't touch it.

A corroded or rusted electrical panel is beginning to show its age. Its parts may have also faced serious water damage over the years, making them useless.

A broken electrical panel, whether from rust or age, is a serious fire hazard. A professional needs to come in to service it before it blows up in your face.

2. Burning Smell

The five senses are one of the first defenses against any problem in your home. Your eyes are useful if you're right in front of your electrical panel, but your nose can spot trouble from rooms away.

Act as soon as you can if you smell burning plastic around the panel. It could be a sign that the jacket of an electrical wire is melting. This is a dangerous fire hazard that needs to be attended to immediately.

3. Tripping Circuit Breakers

A tripping circuit breaker is a sign that an area of your home is drawing too much power. Flipping the affected breaker allows power to flow again. Doing this a few times is a minor inconvenience, but doing it often is a sign that you may need to have an electrician inspect the circuit breaker.

Constant tripping circuits indicate that there's an excessive amount of current flowing through the wiring at all times. In addition to chronically overloaded circuits, the breaker itself cough be malfunctioning. It's a dangerous issue that needs to be inspected as soon as possible.

You may also have an electrical panel that doesn't use any breakers. This happens in homes built before 1960, and over 30 million homes in the US were built before 1973.

In these older homes, electricity is directed through a fuse panel. Today, this is a fire hazard and should be replaced with a modern electrical panel. You can even become part of the electrification movement and choose a sustainable, energy-efficient alternative.

4. Heat

Most devices that use electricity create heat when you use them. They include:

  • Phones
  • Gaming systems
  • Computers
  • DVD players

Your electrical panel should never be one of them. Circuit breakers trip to cool it down, so it should never be too hot to touch.

If you have a hot electrical panel, the wiring could be frayed or outdated. It may also not be equipped to handle the electrical demand of your home.

Get immediate help if you notice this sign in addition to a burning smell or sparks from your outlets. Having one means a potential fire at the electrical panel, but having them all is almost like a smoke alarm going off.

5. Sparks

It's not unusual to see mild electrical panel sparks when you plug in a new device or a new outlet. The size and frequency of these sparks help you determine whether or not they're an issue.

If they're large and frequent, there could be a problem with the outlet or wiring. Sparks throughout your home in more than one of your outlets indicate a serious problem. It most likely goes all the way back to the electrical panel.

6. Outlets That Stop Working

Buying a new device and plugging it in for the first time only to have it not work can ruin your day. You may also notice ones that are already plugged in suddenly turning off when you turn on an appliance.

An up-to-date electrical panel is built to be able to handle whatever you plug into it. The average outlet can take 1,320-5,150W, depending on whether it's a 15, 20, or 30-amp breaker.

Not being able to plug a device into an outlet is more than an inconvenience. It's a sign of improper wiring and the need for an electrical panel upgrade.

7. Flickering or Dimming Lights

It's easy to forget how connected everything in your home is. You might start to jump when you use the microwave and the overhead kitchen lights dim or begin to flicker.

The problem occurs when too much power gets used by devices that share a single circuit. Adding extra circuits is a temporary solution.

The more effective, permanent option is to replace the entire electrical panel. The new one will be able to handle all the demands you're putting on it without having anything flicker or dim again.

8. Remodels or New Appliances

Homeowners completed 134 million renovation projects from 2020-2021 and spent a combined $624 billion. 5.6 billion of those projects were electrical remodeling and cost a combined $10.3 billion.

A remodel is the perfect time for an electrical panel upgrade. Factor in the price of the panel when budgeting for these projects. Don't start until you know exactly what kind of system you need and what new appliances it'll need to power.

If you're working on your home to get it ready to sell, a new panel will increase its resale value. Buyers will appreciate not having to do it themselves or face any issues such as sparks, tripping switches, or uncooperative outlets.

Where to Get an Electrical Panel Upgrade

An electrical panel upgrade protects your family, keeps your devices running, and reinvigorates your home.

Check for signs of damage such as rust or corrosion. Heat, burning smells, or sparks are one of the first signs of a potential fire. Look out for tripping circuit breakers, faulty outlets, and flickering lights as well.

On a less serious note, you can also call in for an electrical panel upgrade if you want to upgrade your home.

Streamline Electric is ready to go right to the source for all of your electrical needs. Request service on your electrical panel today.

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