One of the most important systems in your home is the electrical system. Made up of dozens of wires, outlets, switches, and connections–all of which is controlled by the electrical panel–a malfunctioning electrical system can be not only inconvenient, but dangerous.
This is why it’s important to know the signs of an electrical system in need of an upgrade. More specifically, you should be aware of when your electrical panel needs an upgrade. After all, this is where all the power is routed, and given the increased electrification of homes today, it’s important that your panel can keep up with demands. Read on to learn what these signs are!
You’re Actually Still Using a Fuse Box
While this is pretty rare, there are still some older homes that use fuse boxes instead of electrical panels. These homes are typically built prior to 1960, when electrical panels with circuit breakers started replacing them.
In an electrical panel, if there is excess voltage, a circuit breaker trips and the power is shut off to that particular section of the home or appliance. In a fuse box, this occurs when a fuse is “blown.” Whereas you can reset a circuit breaker, when a fuse blows you have to replace it.
This sounds like a minor inconvenience, but it’s actually unsafe, too. This is why fuse boxes were phased out decades ago.
Your Home Hasn’t Had an Electrical Upgrade in 20-30 Years
Have you been in your home for a few decades now? Aside from your initial home inspection when you bought or started renting your home, has the electrical panel ever been checked? If your home still has the same breaker box that it had back then, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re in need of a new one. Safety, again, is a concern, but your electrical capacity is also probably suffering.
Breaker boxes that are 2-3 decades old (or older) have the capability to manage about 60-100 amps of voltage, while newer electrical panels can manage around 200 amps. This is much better suited to the increasing rise in electrical demand we’ve seen in homes today, due to things like charging stating, computers, and the increased number of electronics and rechargeable devices.
Your Circuit Breakers Keep Tripping
This is literally what electrical panels were designed for, for if and when there is excess voltage, your circuit breakers will trip and turn the electricity off to those wires. This prevents electrical fires as well as damage to your electrical appliance.
The problem comes when a circuit breaker, or multiple circuit breakers, keep tripping. This is a sign that your electrical system is overloaded and needs an upgrade.
Lights Keep Flickering
So maybe the circuit breakers aren’t tripping, but you’ve noticed that your lights keep flickering. This is a sign that your home is experiencing power surges.
Homeowners often believe that power surges only happen during lightning storms. While power surges can occur due to stormy weather, most often they actually happen due to a large appliance in your home cycling on (such as your HVAC system).
Power surges can damage all of your electrical devices and appliances. It happens slowly, over time, so you might not even notice it until it’s too late–which is why it’s so important not to ignore something like flickering lights.