5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel
Today’s electrical demands are greater than ever, with devices like high-powered furnace blowers, air conditioners, water heaters, refrigerators, dryers, space heaters, computers, and more putting huge loads on a typical service panel. All of that current draw can have disastrous effects if your electrical panel is old, outdated, or undersized, from premature appliance failures to house fires. Here are a few signs that you may need to upgrade the electrical panel in your Maryland home:
1. Overloaded Circuits
Each circuit in the electrical panel has a capacity that limited by the size of the wiring in the wall, the rating of the circuit breaker, and the number of outlets on that circuit. If breakers are tripping frequently or you don’t have enough outlets for all your devices, it may be time to consider a service panel upgrade, along with additional circuits to spread the load more evenly.
2. Flickering Lights
If your lights flicker or dim when you turn on a device like a vacuum, air conditioner, or saw, you may be reaching the upper limit of your service panel’s capacity. Many older homes had 60- to 150-amp electrical service, while modern homes have 150-, 200-, or even 400-amp service. That current is divided between all the circuits in your home, and if you are near the peak of your capacity, lights may flicker when a high-powered device turns on, even if it is on a separate circuit.
3. Evidence of Overheating
When you have breakers or outlets that are warm to the touch, scorched, or emitting a burnt or fish-like odor, it may be time to upgrade your electrical panel. All of these are signs of overheating, which could lead to an electrical fire. A professional inspection will be required to determine the extent and severity of the damage.
4. Breakers That Are Damaged
If you have circuit breakers that will not reset properly, will not stay on, do not trip when overloaded, or are physically damaged, it may be time to replace the breakers or consider an electrical panel upgrade. Damaged breakers can short circuit or overheat, increasing the chances of a fire.
5. An Outdated Panel
If you have an older home, there is a good chance that your electrical panel is undersized, outdated, not up to modern code standards, or even defective or dangerous. For instance, some panels have a split bus that has up to six main breakers, with one controlling the individual circuits in your home and others for major appliances. There is no single disconnect that turns off all the power, unlike modern panels, which could lead to shock hazards if the wrong breaker is left energized while working on the electrical system. Other service panels, like Zinsco or Federal Pacific Electric models, were known to be defective and unsafe, while fuse-based panels are outdated, inconvenient, and dangerous when used incorrectly, such replacing a lower-rated fuse with a higher-rated one.
Upgrading your electrical panel can make your home safer, more convenient, and provide the power you need for all your modern electronics, tools, and appliances.
Electrical Panel Upgrades in Maryland
Whether you need an electrical panel upgrade, you want to add a few more circuits, or you would like to replace some old, faulty outlets, you can count on our team at GAC Services. Our licensed, experienced electricians can handle all your home electrical needs, and we serve customers throughout Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick counties in Maryland.