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How to Change an Electrical Panel

Last modified: 2023-01-12 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

Your electrical panel might exist as a hidden feature in your home, but it controls visible aspects that we interact with on a daily basis. Lights, appliances, televisions, garage doors, home computers and so forth all rely on your electrical panel and if it’s not working correctly you’ll definitely take notice.

With that in mind, have you been seen problems with the electricity in your house lately? If electricity is cutting in and out for whatever reason, it may be time to change or update your electrical panel.

At first, it can be difficult to pinpoint the problem on an electrical panel. Of course, if you’re replacing the entire thing then you’ll just need to take the correct steps to get everything in working order.

Here’s how to change your home’s electrical panel

What to know before starting this project

An electrical panel performs multiple duties, including that of blocking electrical surges.  This is one of the many reasons it’s extremely important for it to remain in good condition. It’s crucial to mention that the majority of work involving electricity should be carried out by a professional. Most cities and municipalities make it illegal for homeowners without professional certification to do electrical work.

This is because working with rewiring and electrical connections is extremely dangerous for the novice or DIYer, fires and electrocution are possible. This is why it’s necessary to do plenty of research before moving forward with this project and this includes being certain you have the right permits or are working with the right people.

Even if you’re not a professional electrician, you’ll still be able to recognize certain signs that imply your panel needs to be replaced.

Definite signs that your electrical panel needs replacing

electricity lightbulb

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Sudden flickering of lights and appliances

If you’re noticing that your lights are flicking or the clocks on your appliances are resetting, chances are there is an issue with your electrical panel. In most cases, these signs are an indication of overloaded circuits as well as faulty cords. This problem is pretty common in older homes, as most outdated electrical panels contain only a few circuits that cannot handle modern appliances.

When there isn’t enough energy available for what the needs of your home entail, high-voltage appliances will consume that extra bit of power that will cause others to suffer. As mentioned, updating your electrical panel will allow for a safer home. If you don’t correct this problem, you increase the risk of a fire starting in your electrical panel and thus, in your home.

The presence of fuses in your electrical panel

Again, if you live in an older home and haven’t glanced at your electrical panel in years, chances are the panel contains electrical fuses. This system is outdated and is slowly being phased out in newer home constructions. In its place, electricians install a panel with multiple circuit breakers.

In a nutshell, a circuit is made up of multiple outlets that are connected to a single wire and this is controlled by a single fuse or circuit. In newer electrical panels improve electrical safety because they are able to trip or disconnect an overloaded circuit which is at the risk of heating or burning. A fuse-based system is not dangerous in and of itself.

However, when an electrical short-circuit happens, fuses are hard to work with and in some cases, they can lead to electric shocks and even fires. Also, if your insurance company learns that you have a fuse panel, they could refuse to offer full coverage against fire damage. Breakers, for their part, are easy to use. If a surge happens, you’ll simply place the breaker back to its position of origin. Once a year, test the breakers to make sure that they’re still solid. Due to wear and tear, they sometimes become loose.

Rust and heat release

electricity light lamp

As with many other pieces of your home, the electrical panel wears out over time. Unless checking on your electrical panel daily, it’s hard to notice signs of wear and tear. However, if you find rust being released from your electrical panel, this is a sign of serious danger! It’s crucial that you Contact an electrician immediately as rust implies that a water leak may be compromising the electrical circuits.

As for heat being released from the electrical panel, this is also an alarming sign that indicates a serious problem. For either of these signs, it would be best to call in a professional.

Frequent surges and breakers that won’t reset

If your finding that your electrical panel experiences frequent surges, chances are your panel’s general capacity may be too low. As mentioned, older panels are unable to support the amount of electricity required today. Therefore, older electrical panels are not adapted to supply the electricity being used by the majority of households. For example, a new panel can supply 200 amps whereas most older models have a capacity of 60 amps.

Another sign that your electrical panel isn’t going to cut it is that your breakers have stopper resetting. This is directly connected to frequent power surges, as it’s a result of too much power in your home for your electrical panel. If you’re resetting breakers constantly, then call in a professional to check the safety of your panel.

Electrical circuits that no longer work

If in doubt about one of the circuits on your panel, use a multimeter to detect the electric current. This will help you emit a proper diagnosis as well as allowing you to detect the source of the problem. If, upon verification, you realize that the time has come to change your electrical panel, contact an electrician. Any task concerning electricity should always be done by a professional since the possible repercussions following even the slightest error could be grave.

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