11 Signs You Should Replace Your Electrical Panel

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Mark Jardine
March 25, 2024
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Most of the time, until we need to switch a circuit breaker, we rarely give much thought to our electrical panels. However, the electric box panel is an essential electrical connection in your house; therefore, you must monitor it and ensure it's functioning correctly.
Most people who own or reside in a home have heard of an electrical panel, but only a small percentage fully understand what it does and how it operates. Electrical panel boxes function on a few straightforward principles that almost everyone understands, even though they may appear to be complicated machinery needing specialist understanding.

What is an Electrical Panel?

Numerous circuits in modern home electrical systems regulate the flow of power to various rooms in the house. While a single circuit may give electricity to multiple rooms, each room in a place often receives its circuit, and major equipment also gets dedicated circuits.
Circuit breakers are kept in a steel box called an electrical panel. Power enters from the meter and divides off into many circuits, each with its circuit breaker, in the case of the main breaker panel. There are several sizes and varieties of breaker panels, including main panels, main lug panels, sub-panels, and transfer switches.
Did you know that the electrical panel in your house may last up to 40 years? However, you need to repair your electrical panel if you live in an older home or if there are indications that your circuit breaker isn't functioning. You could be unsure about the cost if you're debating whether to replace your circuit breaker panel. You may be asking yourself things like:
“What are the signs that I need to replace my circuit breaker?”
"What is the cost to replace a circuit breaker panel?"
Our expert electricians wanted to offer the signs we have seen over the years of service to assist you in recognizing when it's time to replace your circuit breaker panel. When you know all the warning indications that your circuit break panel needs to be changed, you can decide for yourself what is best. Learn more by reading on.

Your Circuit Breakers Keep Tripping

If your circuit breaker trips frequently, the circuit may have a problem. There could be a ground fault or short circuit in your gadgets. A circuit overload or a warning that the circuit breaker box needs to be fixed can be present. Watch for possible reasons why your circuit breaker may be tripping more frequently.
Five main reasons cause circuit breakers to trip:
  • Circuit Overload
Circuit overload is one of the main reasons why circuit breakers trip frequently. This occurs when a circuit is asked to produce more electricity than it can, and the circuit will overheat, jeopardizing all the electrical equipment connected to it.
  • Short Circuits
A short circuit, which is more harmful than an overloaded circuit, is another frequent reason for breaker trips, when a "hot" wire and a "neutral wire" in one of your electrical outlets come into contact, a short circuit results.
  • Ground Fault Surges
Short circuits and ground fault surges are comparable. They happen when a hot wire contacts a bare copper ground wire or the side of a metal outlet box attached to the ground wire. This will result in the circuit managing more electricity than it can handle.
  • Defective Circuit Breaker
If the causes, as mentioned earlier, of circuit breaker tripping are not the issue, then your circuit breaker is to blame. It's time to replace the breaker when it becomes faulty and can no longer generate electricity.
  • Your Electrical System Operates on Fuses
If your electrical system uses fuses, the circuit breaker must be replaced, and fuse use has been discontinued due to safer modern alternatives. Additionally, many insurance companies may charge you extra if your circuit breaker system is outdated.
In this instance, we advise replacing a circuit breaker panel for your safety and financial savings. We recommend you call an electrical service to conduct the panel change because your system needs to be replaced, and you are safer doing this.
  • Your Circuit Breaker Panel Is Old
Fuse boxes serve the same purpose as more modern circuit breakers, although utilizing one still carries some risk. They are not only significantly more difficult to maintain than a circuit breaker, but they also provide a greater risk of fire. A fuse must be changed each time a surge causes it to burn out, and a straightforward switch in a circuit breaker is activated to restore power instantly. If you still utilize a fuse box, consider changing your panel box. Additionally, consider upgrading if your house or electrical panel is 20 years old or older.
  • Flickering Lights
You can feel impending doom when you watch the lights in your home flashing menacingly. However, flickering or fading lights are only signs that the electrical panel needs to be fixed. It's best to wait for a little before taking action when your lights flicker for the first time. A severe thunderstorm or similar power loss unrelated to the electrical equipment in your home is commonly to blame for flickering lights. However, you may need to upgrade your panel if your lights dim or flicker frequently.
  • Breaker Tripping with Appliance Use
Most people had experienced having both their hairdryer and microwave abruptly switched off when they were using them simultaneously. An occasional rush of electricity will trip your circuit breaker if everything is functioning correctly, cutting off power to that specific region. This is unimportant, but if a particular appliance or the microwave causes your breaker to trip every time you plug it in or turn it on, a new panel may be required.
  • A Breaker that Won't Reset
A tripped breaker should ideally be simple to reset so that you can continue your day. However, if you attempt to reset a tripped breaker and it switches off again right away, you might need to update. Typically, this kind of malfunction indicates an issue with your circuit breaker.
  • Melting or Burning Smell
A burning smell in your house is usually unsettling. If the scent originates from your electrical panel, take immediate action. A major house fire can develop fast due to a malfunctioning circuit breaker. It's most likely the plastic jacket of an electrical wire melting if you smell burning plastic or wood. If you smell wood, your home's walls may be affected. If the odor is faint and then goes away, an electrician can solve the issue. However, if the scent is strong and you are concerned that a fire has already started, leave your house immediately and dial 911.
  • Buzzing
It's time to replace your circuit breaker if you hear a buzzing sound. At the very least, you should invite an electrician over to assess whether any repairs are necessary. This will stop your home from having an electrical fire because the buzzing could indicate that the circuit breaker would discharge sparks.
  • Rust and Corrosion
It's time to replace your circuit breaker if you hear a buzzing sound. At the very least, you should invite an electrician over to assess whether any repairs are necessary. This will stop your home from having an electrical fire because the buzzing could indicate that the circuit breaker would discharge sparks.
  • High Utility Bills
You could need a new electrical panel if your utility expenses rise steadily despite using the same appliances and equipment. What causes this to occur? Your power bill will skyrocket due to your appliances using more electricity due to corroded and flimsy wiring.
  • Not Enough Outlets
Do you frequently use a power strip to compensate for the lack of outlets in your home? That warning indicates that an increased electrical flow could be too much for your electrical panel to handle. An electrician can install more outlets if your panel can support more circuits. The best action is to replace the electrical panel if it cannot.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Electrical Panel?

An updated electrical panel ensures that all home gadgets function effectively. If the capacity of your current breaker box cannot keep up with the demand for electricity in your home, it may be time for an upgrade. It's also important to note that electrical panels older than 25 to 40 years must be changed because they provide a fire risk.
Several variables affect how much it will ultimately cost to replace an electrical panel. A few examples are type, amperage, location, brand, materials, labor, and permits for electrical panels. A new breaker box typically costs $1,210, but the following elements can affect the final price.

Why Putting Off an Electrical Panel Upgrade Is Dangerous

Please pay attention to the warning signs of a regularly overloaded circuit breaker; ignoring them could have costly and dangerous repercussions. On the less catastrophic end, you might "fry" part of the electrical wiring in your house or an outlet: a pricey PC or some other plugged-in gadget. Repairs could be complicated or costly.
However, an outdated or broken electrical panel poses a severe risk of electrical arcing, lethal electric shock, and fire. A qualified and certified professional from Home Alliance should be contacted whenever you detect anything strange about your home's electrical system, in addition to the warning signals of circuit breaker issues mentioned above. You cannot ignore your home's electrical system because the risks are too great.

Get Expert Electrical Panel Replacement Today

Contact Home Alliance if it may be time to update your electrical panel. Our licensed electricians expertly replace, repair, and inspect electrical panels for homeowners. Be a member today and book a service today!