Did you know that electrical malfunctions account for almost 7% of residential house fires? Knowing how your electrical panel functions and when it needs upgrading can help you prevent injuries, deaths, and damages to your house.
One of the leading causes of a poorly functioning electrical panel is overloading. Mapping your electrical panel and understanding the basics of how it works can help you call on the professionals when issues do arise. In some instances, there are some minor problems that you can fix yourself.
Are you interested in getting started? We have put together a complete guide on your home’s electrical panel and how you can start mapping it today, so keep reading for more information!
What Is an Electrical Panel?
An electrical panel is your home’s primary operating system. It connects electrical wires from your home to the outdoors. All the electrical wiring in your home gathers at this central point before breaking off into ‘exit wires.’
Since this is part of your house, you hold responsibility for problems that arise with your electrical panel. Some issues you may simply fix yourself, but you must recognize a few key points on when to call on a professional.
When the main door is open, and circuit breakers are exposed, it is still safe to work on yourself (in most instances). An electrical panel should have:
- Protective cover
- Main breaker
- Circuit breakers
- Extra space for circuit breakers (note: this is not in all homes)
- Wire assortments
Once the front cover or protective panel is removed, you pose a risk for lethal electrical shocks. In most instances, flipping a tripped circuit breaker is safe. Some homeowners also feel comfortable with circuit upgrades that entail removing and replacing them.
Common Electrical Problems
When you build or remodel your house, your attention may be drawn to that silver box you hardly bother to pay attention to on most days. Yet, you or a qualified electrician can sometimes solve common electrical problems at little to no cost if you catch them early. Here are some common electrical problems:
- Flickering lights
- Not enough outlets
- Overwired electrical panel
- Aluminum vs. copper wiring
Overcrowding and corrosion are two common problems seen with electrical panels, and it can make your circuit breakers trip often. Your electrical panel can pose a significant safety concern for yourself and others and put your home at an increased risk for fire damage.
Electrical Panel Upgrades
Frequent circuit breaker trips are an obvious sign your electrical panel needs upgrading. Flickering or dimming lights with appliances such as microwaves or blow dryers is another obvious sign.
While upgrading circuit breakers is more expensive than other home projects, it can prevent house fires and help your appliances work properly. Luckily, in many instances, homeowner’s insurance does cover electrical panel upgrades if it is a safety risk.
When you upgrade your circuit breakers, you will want a qualified and trusted electrician. They can recommend the best brands and use breakers that fall under home insurance coverage. Some of the main ones that Down To The Wire Electric recommends are:
- 3-5 bullet
- Square D Load Center
- Siemens Talon Panel
- Murray LC002GSU Load Center
Electrical panels with broken covers or high safety risks do not follow safety codes, and it can become a big problem when looking at selling.
How Often Should You Check Your Electrical Panel?
Installing new appliances or equipment, such as hot tubs, can put you at risk for electrocution or power surges. During renovations or major installations, you will want an electrician to check your electrical panel. It is not something you want to risk yourself.
Most insurances and experts recommend that you have your electrical panel checked by an electrician once a year. This can help you qualify for homeowner’s insurance upgrades and ensure that your cabling and wiring are up to code.
Mapping Electrical Panels
Now that you know overloaded electrical panels pose serious health risks, you must understand how to map an electrical panel when problems arise. After you upgrade or replace your electrical panel, it helps if an electrician shows you the changes made.
First, become familiar with the layout of your house and shut off all circuit breakers. You may need to reset clocks and timers, but it ensures that you remain safe while working with your electrical panel.
Start with 240-volt circuit breakers and flip them back on one at a time. You can determine which appliance it leads to by turning it on, which helps you accurately label the circuit breaker.
Next, move onto smaller circuit breakers that lead to individual rooms and have someone turn on a lamp or overhead light. Lastly, make sure all breakers are turned on and labeled accurately. When breakers trip, you can quickly locate the problem and call on the professionals.
Immediately call an electrician if you notice excessive heat, sparks, or frayed wiring on your electrical panel.
Find a Qualified Electrician
Finding a qualified electrician can ensure your electrical panel operates smoothly and efficiently. Overcrowding and older electric panels can create a high risk for residential fires.
If mapping your electrical panel still results in frequent circuit breaker trips, you may need an upgrade. At Down To The Wire Electric, we specialize in commercial and residential electrical concerns and can help you upgrade your electrical panel.
We have quality electricians ready to serve you, so what are you waiting for? Contact us today and let us help you keep your home up to code and safe for years to come!