Don't Get Zapped: 4 Signs You Need An Electrical Panel Upgrade In Your Home

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People in this country love to use energy. Blasting heaters in the cold winter months, multiple big-screen TVs, several computers in one household, air conditioners in the summer, washers and dryers, and other electrical equipment and appliances are used today more than ever before. It takes a huge amount of electricity to power all of these devices. All of this electricity coming into your home goes through an electrical panel. Sometimes, the electrical panel doesn't work as it should and will need to be replaced. Continue reading to learn 4 signs that indicate you need to upgrade the electrical panel in your house:

1. Installing a new appliance.

Plugging a new small appliance, like a toaster, into your kitchen outlet won't do much to your household energy consumption. But big items like a refrigerator, air conditioner, or a new hot tub does use up a lot of energy. Your current electrical panel may not be able handle this additional electrical load.

When you don't have enough amps of power to run your electronic devices and appliances, the fuses or circuit breakers will trip and power will no longer flow to that item. Most electrical panels provide 100 amps, 150 amps, 200 amps, or 400 amps of power. If you estimate the amount of amps your currently using in your house, then add the amount of amps the new appliance uses, that will give you the minimum amount of power you need your circuit breaker to handle. If that number is more than 80 percent of the circuit breaker's capacity, then you'll need to upgrade it.

2. Wiring problems.

In Canada, 20 percent of all fires are electrical fires, and faulty wiring is the number 1 cause of all these electrical fires. The older your home is, the higher the risks are that the old wiring will cause a fire. This is because the insulation on old wires is usually deteriorated, which happens to all wires over time. The exposed wire is dangerous to the touch, as well as an excellent fire starter. Also, old wires usually don't meet current codes and should be replaced. Signs of faulty wires include:

  • Recurring or consistent burning smell
  • Flickering lights
  • Dimming lights
  • You get a minor or major shock when you touch an electrical device
  • You feel a tingling sensation when you touch an electrical device
  • Sparks are flying out of one or more power outlets
  • There's a discoloration on one or more power outlets
  • Switches are hot to the touch

3. Excessively using power strips and extension cords.

If it seems like you don't have enough outlets in your home to power all your electronic appliances and devices, you're probably using a lot of extension cords and power strips. This can overload the outlet and cause a fire. Instead, upgrade your electrical panel and add more circuits and outlets to each room to reduce the risk of fire.

4. Replace old fuses with new circuit breakers.

Many older homes still use fuses instead of circuit breakers, and they may not be experiencing any problems. But, fuses are outdated. Fuses are also a major fire hazard because they are not made to power the amount of electronics that the households of today have. In fact, many insurance companies will not insure a home with fuses because of the elevated risk of fire. Instead of arguing with the insurance companies and putting you and your family at risk for a house fire, upgrade the electrical panel in your home from fuses to circuit breakers.

If you are experiencing one or more of these signs, it's time for an electrical panel upgrade. If you have some experience working with electricity, you may want to try to complete the upgrade on your own. Or, you can have a local licensed electrician to do the work for you. Call your electrician and have him or her take a look at your electrical panel, or click to find out more. The electrician will then devise a plan for the best course of action.