The electrical panel is arguably the most important part of your home, although it is generally forgotten about and taken for granted. That is until you have an issue with your electrics.
That’s the problem, electricity is seen as an essential part of daily life, you turn on a light switch without thinking, charge your phone, even cook the dinner. But, there are still millions of people in the world without access to electricity!
Alongside taking its presence for granted, you should also remember that electricity is dangerous. Bad wiring in your home is one of the leading causes of house fires and one of the best reasons to have a level 2 electrician inspect your electrics annually.
Modern homes come equipped with an electrical box complete with circuit breakers. These are designed to detect tiny faults on the circuit and will shut off the supply to the circuit, preventing you from getting a nasty shock and reducing the risk of a house fire.
But, older homes may have a more old-fashioned electrical panel, such as simple fuses. These increase the risk of issues.
Regardless of what type of electrical panel you have, it is important to be aware of the signs that it needs replacing:
- Flickering Lights
Lights shouldn’t be flickering when you turn them on or while they are being used. If they flicker this suggests there is an issue with the wiring, although it could be with the light fitting itself. It is best to avoid using the light circuit if possible and get an electrician to check it out properly.
- Electrical Shocks
A real giveaway that you have an electrical panel issue is when you start getting small electric shocks. These can be when you plug-in items, switch on certain lights, or even when you touch an appliance. The shock will usually be small but noticeable.
Electric shocks mean there is an issue with your wiring and the earth in your house. You need to get this checked quickly as your panel is likely to be damaged.
- Breaker Keeps Tripping
Circuit breakers trip occasionally, this can be due to a power surge or a faulty appliance. However, if it keeps tripping you may have an issue with your electric panel. You need to unplug everything from the bad circuit and try again. If the breaker still trips you have a problem that needs urgent help.
- Buzzing Sounds
Buzzing sounds are another certain sign that you have an electrical issue. These generally occur when two wires have been exposed and the current is able to transfer between them. This increases the risk of short circuits, fires, and electric shocks.
You may hear the buzzing sound all the time or just when you turn the circuit on and off.
- Burning Smells
Burning smells often accompany buzzing sounds. They tell you that the outer protective sheath of your wires has been damaged. In fact, the burning aroma is often the circuits getting too hot and melting this protective coating.
This can happen because there is too much insulation preventing heat dispersion, old wiring, or the circuits are overloaded. All are signs that your panel needs looking at.
- Multiple Power Strips
If you find that there are power strips being used all over your house then you don’t have enough electrical outlets. This is a good sign that you need to change or improve your electric panel.
Over use of strips means that your circuits are probably overloaded, increasing the chance of an array of issues, including fire.
Electrical wiring is very sturdy and can last for years, depending on the conditions it lives in. However, if the wiring is older than ten years old, or you don’t know how old it is, you should have it and your panel checked. You may find there are an array of issues building behind the walls and the sooner you get them sorted the better.
- Warm Panel
Warm sockets and a warm electrical panel are both signs that you may have an issue. There are many reasons why the panels can be warm but none of them are good or should be considered normal.
Don’t forget that your electrical panel may be fine but you could still need the assistance of an electrician if you purchase a new appliance.
You’ll find that multiple appliances in your home need to have their own dedicated circuit. So, if you have bought a dishwasher for the first time, you may need a new circuit breaker added to your panel.
Even if your system isn’t showing any of the classic warning signs, you should still contact your electrician and get them to inspect it annually. This is the safest way to prevent issues from occurring. It also makes sense as your electrician can spot problems before they become serious and help you to take the appropriate action.