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How to Tell If Your Electrical Panel is in Need of Replacement or Repair

Signs That an Electrical Panel Needs Professional Help

The electrical panel is one of the most important parts of a home. Inside this little metal box are columns of circuit breakers, which essentially control the home's electricity distribution. The breakers shut off power in one part of the home as a safety mechanism when an electrical circuit overloads. But just like any other part of the home, electrical panels wear down and may fail over time, needing either a fix or a replacement. Here are some signs one needs an electrical panel repair or replacement.

Lights That Flicker Or Are Dimmer Than Usual 

lightWondering how to tell that a breaker panel needs to be replaced? Just look at the lights in the home. Suppose there are flickering lights when another appliance is plugged in. In that case, the circuit breaker can no longer supply the electricity the home needs to power all lighting, appliances, and devices requiring electricity. A flickering light bulb can be replaced. In fact, lights flickering in the house may indicate that the breaker panel needs replacement.

Another indicator is if all of the lights look dimmer than usual, especially if they all seem to have the same brightness level. When a light is dim, the conclusion is often that it is at the end of its life and needs to be replaced, but that isn't the case when ALL the lights seem to be dimmer than usual. In instances like this, it may not be the individual light fixture that is at fault but the electrical panel itself. 

In both cases, a qualified electrician will usually recommend replacing and upgrading the existing breaker box into one that is adequate for the particular home's needs.

A Burning Smell Coming From the Circuit Box

A surefire way to tell that the old circuit box needs to go is if one starts to smell something burning, similar to burning plastic or wood from the electrical panel. This is a big red flag and a sign that should tell homeowners to run, not walk to their phones and call an electrician immediately. They will likely rush to the home because they know that a burning smell likely means that there is either a bad circuit or a faulty wire connection, both of which can start an electrical fire. If this isn't resolved immediately, an electrical fire from the circuit box could burn down a house.

Check the Electrical Panel's Age

panelMost electrical panels don't have to be replaced until they're about 50 years old or so. For most people, that's enough to last them a lifetime. So the good news is that circuit breakers are meant to last a long time, and homeowners should only worry about their panels if they show signs of needing repair or replacement. However, homeowners who are inheriting old houses, or moving into a home that's been around for more than 50 years, likely need to have their electrical panels inspected for age. If they've been replaced recently, then it should be good, but if they're already decades old and haven't been replaced once, it is probably safer to replace them with a new one before moving in to err on the side of safety.

About Edison Electric, Inc.

Edison Electric, Inc. has served the Twin Cities metro area for over 16 years. With a team of reliable, expert electricians, they have what it takes to solve every electrical issue, from breaker panel repairs to rewiring services and EV outlet and circuit replacement and repair. Their upfront pricing, hassle-free scheduling, and fully stocked trucks mean fast, convenient, and flexible service for homeowners. Call them today for all electrical services in Minneapolis, MN.

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