Think of the electrical panel in your home as a “central switching station” for all the electricity flowing through the wires in your house. The current from the grid enters the panel, where it divides into the different circuits that spread to outlets, light fixtures, and hardwired appliances. This panel needs to be in top shape and up-to-date to handle a home’s electrical load or else it will result in electrical problems and possibly safety hazards.
Is your house due for an electrical panel upgrade in Ellensburg, WA? It’s a good question, and we’ll explore it more below.
Age of the Panel
The general service life expectancy of an electrical panel is 25–40 years, although in practice it usually comes in on the lower side (for reasons we’ll discuss more below). If you live in a house that was built in the 1980s and still has its same electrical panel, we strongly recommend that you call for electricians to look into making an upgrade—the panel is too old and likely not current with modern electrical demands.
If your home has a fuse box rather than a circuit breaker panel, we strongly recommend you have it replaced as soon as possible. Fuse boxes are not only inconvenient, since you have to replace a fuse each time one burns out, but in order to handle the higher electrical loads they need larger and larger fuses, which is a major safety risk.
Federal Pacific Electrical Panel
This is a specific type of panel that has been discontinued, but unfortunately it’s still found in many homes. These panels have a higher failure rate that can cause a breaker to malfunction and create fire hazards. You may have one in your house if it was built before 1990. They’re easy to identify: you’ll see “Federal Pacific” on the inside of the panel and the words “Stab-Lok” above the breakers. Please call for a panel upgrade as soon as possible if you have a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel.
Panel Can’t Handle Electrical Demands
Although panels can potentially last for 40 years, the reason they often don’t make it to that age is because the electrical demands in homes keep increasing. Today’s homes have many more electrical devices than those of twenty years ago, even ten, and older panels often can’t handle this level of demand. If you’ve noticed issues with flickering lights in your home or continually tripping circuit breakers, then it’s likely your old electrical panel is out of date and needs an upgrade.
Panel Has Suffered Damage
If your panel has had an electrical fire or you can see scorch and burn marks on it, then you need to have it replaced right away. A damaged panel is a major fire hazard. If you’re in doubt about the condition of your panel, you can call our electricians to examine it and give you an informed opinion.
Please, do not attempt to replace or repair a panel breaker on your own. This is absolutely not a do-it-yourself job. A house’s electrical system must meet the local electrical code or it will risk voiding the home insurance. It also creates a high risk of electrical shock and electrical fires. Leave these jobs to licensed electricians.