When Is It Time to Replace Your Electrical Panel?

Feb 28, 2021

The electrical panel in your home delivers power to every circuit. Each circuit is connected to its own circuit breaker, which can trip the power if there is an overload. In general, circuit breakers have a 15-to-20-year lifespan. Circuit breaker types such as arc fault and ground fault breakers have more delicate sensors, so last a shorter time, requiring replacement after 10 to 15 years. The panel itself can last 40 years or longer depending on the brand and whether power levels exceed its capacity.

Change a Panel If You’re Experiencing These Signs

Electrical panel maintenance should be done from time to time. It’s not uncommon for circuit breakers to wear out. They can be replaced individually; this is a rather simple job for an electrician. You’ll know it’s time to change a breaker if it trips constantly or won’t reset. However, it may be time to call a professional experienced with panel upgrades if you notice:

  • Multiple Circuit Breaker Trips: Occasional trips are usually nothing to worry about. But if multiple circuit breakers keep tripping, the entire panel may be wearing out or it might not be rated for the current electrical demand in your home. Continuing to use the old panel can put your electrical system, home, and safety at risk.
  • Burning Smell: If there is a smell like burning plastic or wood around your electrical panel, it should be replaced immediately. A plastic odor means the plastic jacket surrounding electrical wires is melting. When you smell burning wood, that means the panel is failing and wood and insulation within your walls are scorching.
  • Flickering Lights: Plugging in a vacuum or appliance should not cause the lights to flicker. This means the power draw is exceeding system capacity. You should contact a professional to replace the electrical panel as well as perform an electrical inspection to make sure there isn’t any hidden wiring damage.
  • Burn Marks or Damaged Wires: The problem requires much more than simple circuit breaker repair if there are burn marks on your panel. Damage to wiring likely means there is an overload causing deterioration of insulating materials. Any visible damage to your electrical panel should be addressed immediately to mitigate the risk of a fire.
  • Very Hot Circuit Breakers: If a wire becomes overheated, the circuit breaker should trip. If this process fails, then the entire panel may become hot, which can cause materials to burn and ignite. When it is hot or even slightly warm, the panel should be replaced by a licensed electrician.
  • Noise Is Coming from the Panel: When a circuit breaker trips, you’ll hear a slight click. If you hear buzzing or hissing, there’s likely a faulty wire or loose connection. Additional damage will occur if you don’t have the wiring replaced; in some cases, the panel may be affected, or cause the problem in the first place.
  • Physical Damage to the Electrical Panel: Service panels are low-profile fixtures and are typically out of the way. But they can become damaged if something falls on them. Panels mounted in the garage may be at risk of being hit by a car. Direct damage often requires replacing the panel, as many small, yet critical, components may be affected.

Contact CMC Electric

Contact us immediately if you suspect a problem with your electrical panel. We provide same-day or next-day electrical repair in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Our electricians are fully licensed and knowledgeable in all electrical system issues. Panel upgrades and replacements can be completed quickly to ensure electrical safety, efficiency, and reliability. For prompt service, schedule your appointment online or call CMC Electric at 919-804-1462 today!

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