Your electrical panel is arguably one of the most important components in your home. It brings you convenience and comfort by ensuring you have electricity in your home.
After some time, however, your electrical panel may become old and outdated. At that point, it becomes as problematic as outdated wiring. It also becomes unable to keep up with your home’s electrical load.
What’s more, depending on how outdated it is, it can actually become a serious fire hazard.
But when do you know it’s time to replace your old electrical panel? The following are the telltale signs.
- Lights flicker or dim when you plug in something
- The panel makes strange sounds
- Rust has formed on the electrical panel
- The electrical panel is warm or hot when touched
- Has fuses but no circuit breakers
- Lack of the outlets that you need
- Breakers often trip
- Smells like something is burning/burnt
- The electrical panel is old, over 20 years especially if its outdoors
In this article, we are going to cover 5 reasons why you should consider upgrading your electrical panel.
Reason #1: To increase your home value.
Replacing your old electrical panel with a new one can help boost your home value, says advantage-properties.com. The new elements such as switchboards and breaker panel are not only aesthetically pleasing but can also help keep fire hazards at a minimum.
Insurance reduces, buyers know this and pay more/more willing to buy
Reason #2: To reduce the risk of fire.
There are approximately 24,000 electrical fires per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Moreover, 13% of residential fires and 19% of non-residential building fires are due to equipment, appliance, or electrical malfunctions.
As a household grows, so do the power demands. Adding appliances and electronics such as tankless water heaters, air conditioning, computers, gaming systems, and televisions can put a strain on your electrical system. It’s no wonder why old homes are usually the subject of more insurance claims.
Reason #3: To reduce homeowner insurance.
Upgrading your electrical panel can also help reduce your homeowner’s insurance bill. Replacing the fuse box with a breaker panels will make your home much safer. You may even be eligible for a discount on your annual electric bill from your company.
Reason #4: To be able to add more appliances.
From time to time, you may need to add some appliances to your home. And if you are still using a fuse box, it may not serve you well as it may blow fuses frequently. In fact, the most common reason for a fuse blowing (or a circuit breaker tripping) is an overloaded circuit.
Switching to a breaker panel instead can help solve this issue once and for all. With one, you won’t have to worry about blowing any fuses, or causing damage to your current appliances.
Reason #5: To update your old home.
Most of the old residential apartments usually have a cozy, retro atmosphere. This is usually lacking in a modern home. That said, older homes typically have obsolete electrical panels that may not be able to provide support for your modern needs.
As a matter of fact, a majority of the older homes were designed with only between 30 and 100 amps for the entire home. Yet, today, most homes require an average of 200 amps to have the capacity to function properly.
Should you do it yourself?
As all electrical jobs are potentially dangerous and involved, hiring a professional electrician is often the best option. Many cities, in fact, require a licensed master electrician to perform such kinds of work.
Another reason why you should leave the job to the pros is because you can get seriously injured or even killed. Remember, when you shut off the main breaker, lugs still continue to carry live electricity.
The lugs carry high voltage and any contact with them can injure you seriously.
Thirdly, upgrading the electrical panel is only half the work. The upgrade won’t, in and of itself, increase the power supply to your home. A pro will tell you that besides the new electrical panel you’ll also need to install a new electrical meter and service entry cables.
Lastly, working on any electrical projects require strict adherence to local laws and regulations.
How to Hire a Qualified Electrician for Your Home
Before hiring an electrician, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure professional, reliable service. Ask questions like:
- What will you provide a guarantee or warranty?
- Is a permit required? Who will obtain it?
- What does the estimate include?
- Will you provide references?
- What special training/experience do you have for this kind of work?
- Are you insured? Both General Liability and Workers Compensation?
- Are you licensed?
- How long will you take to complete the job?
On pricing, remember that the cheapest option is not always the best. According to HomeGuide.com, the average cost of an electrician is $40 to $100 per hour. The exact rate, of course, will depend on things like your location and scope of work.
Don’t wait for sparks to fly. Be proactive and replace your old electrical panel as soon as possible. According to NFPA.org, on average, seven people die daily in the U.S. as a result of home fires.