Is it time to upgrade your panel box to solve your electrical problems?
Replacing a panel box is about safety. It serves as the electrical distribution hub of your home. Circuit breakers in the panel box cut the power to your home when there is too much electricity flowing through it.
When a circuit breaker is losing functionality, overheated wires can break down insulation and cause a house fire. The breakers also protect your electronics, and the valuable data on them, such as family photos or homework assignments.
Electrical panels can last nearly 60 years depending on climate, which means replacement is rare but important.
Panel box replacement or upgrade is also necessary if it is time to increase the amperage available in your home or the number of circuits after adding a room addition.
Seven signs it is time for a replacement.
You are resetting breakers multiple times a week.
Evidence of any fires in the breaker panel.
Resetting the breaker won’t return the power to your outlets.
You notice lights frequently dimming, especially when using large appliances like a microwave or dryer.
Circuit breakers are hot to the touch.
You have an old fuse box instead of a breaker panel. You must replace fuses every time they blow, unlike circuit breakers than can be reset multiple times.
The electric panel is a Federal Pacific, Zinsco, I-T-E Pushmatic, or GTE/Sylvania brand.
Anyone experiencing these problems should call an electrician immediately to change the panel before it causes damage to your home appliances or more severe problems.
How to install a new breaker panel
It is not advisable for a homeowner to attempt to change, upgrade, or replace their panel box. The work is dangerous, and an experienced professional can prevent serious bodily harm. An electrician will go through several steps to complete the install.
A multimeter or voltmeter are good tools to measure the circuit load in your home and determine how close it is to capacity. Appliances, outlets and lighting are all more energy efficient now than several decades ago, which means it is likely your house is using less electricity than it was when the breaker box was installed.
Unless you added a large addition to your home, it is likely you can stick with the same amperage when you install a new breaker panel.
If you are nearing capacity, or if you are experiencing one of the seven signs it is time to replace your breaker panel, then consider contacting a professional to complete the project.
Electrical upgrades and breaker panel replacements begin by receiving permission from a local building authority to be sure your home isn’t at risk or putting other structures in danger. After the job is complete, the same entity will most likely conduct a building check to make sure everything is working properly.
Next, shut off all the electricity to your home to prevent any safety hazards. Contact the utility company to ensure the feeder wires are also shut off.
Then, label all of the wires before removing the old panel and installing the new panel. Remove each breaker individually, detach the ground line and disconnect the neutral bar.
Open metal knockouts in the new panel for the different conduits, and install the main breaker.
Begin threading the wires through the new panel. Reattach the ground wire and the neutral bar, and keep all the circuits organized based on proximity to each other. Appropriate breakers are attached to the circuit based on amount of electricity needed, and wires are replaced if they are showing excessive wear.
Finally, the electrician will contact the utility company to turn the power back on, and then individually check each circuit to make sure it is working properly.
Bobvilla.com offers a helpful labeled breaker panel to demonstrate the different wires and bars involved in a replacement project.
A&P Homes Electric offers decades of experience to customers looking to upgrade their panel box, add electricity to a home addition or even completely rewire a house. We can help homeowners in older houses in the Norman and Oklahoma City Metro areas.
We don’t want want you to worry about the safety of home, so contact us for a free quote on your home electric project.