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Signs the Home's Electrical Panel May Need Repairing

Does Your Electrical Panel Need a Replacement?

Electrical panels are an essential part of the home’s electrical system. This also means that, when they inevitably break down and need repair, it can be devastating for the home. Homeowners should know how to spot the signs that an electrical panel repair is imminent so that they can call an electrician at the first sign of trouble.

Not only do these issues pose a risk to your safety, often a leading cause of fires, but also they can prevent you from using the electrical systems in your home. While you should always leave repairs to experts, it’s still important to be informed of the signs of an issue to avoid an emergency.

The Issues With Older Electrical Panels

Generally speaking, electrical panels should last for decades. In fact, the average lifespan of an electrical panel is about 60 years according to the NACHI. However, certain factors like corrosion or excessive dust can reduce lifespan significantly. In addition to regularly inspecting the actual panel for signs of corrosion, rust, or dirt, there are signs that can be noticed through the entire house that would indicate the need to call an electrician.

Here are just a few of the signs that the home’s electrical panel is getting old and may need to be replaced:

  • old panelDimming/flickering lights (discussed more in detail below).
  • Failing/frequently tripping circuit breakers.
  • An obvious outdated panel design.
  • A burning smell (discussed more in detail below).
  • A "warm to the touch" electrical panel.
  • Failure to reset once tripped.

If a homeowner notices any of these signs, they should contact an electrician as soon as possible. While these issues will often lead to the failure of working electricity in the home, they can also be potential fire hazards.

What Is That Burning Smell?

Obviously, a burning smell coming from the electrical panel is a bad thing. But why does it happen and where is it coming from exactly? The actual smell itself depends on which area of the electrical panel is the problem - the circuit breaker itself or the wires attached to it. If the issue is with the wires, it’s likely the insulation surrounding it is burning.

burning smell

If it is the actual circuit breaker, the electrical overload could be causing it to melt. Neither can necessarily be prevented other than replacing the electrical panel before it gets too old to work safely.

Neither of these issues should be fixed by the homeowner either, due to the risk of electrocution. A licensed professional should always be called, in this case as soon as possible.

Why Dimming/Flickering Lights Happen

light bulbsOne of the more obvious signs of trouble with the electrical panel is that the lights in the home will seem to dim or flicker without reason. Many homeowners blame other factors for a while before getting to the heart of the matter but, ultimately, this is not an issue with light switches or lightbulbs.

Unfortunately, homeowners tend to go through a lot of lightbulbs before figuring out that there is a deeper problem at hand. The most likely issue is loose wiring or service conductors inside the electrical panel. This can happen mostly due to normal wear and tear and aging.

Pay attention to see if there is any specific pattern to how and when they dim or flicker, then call a local electrician. The electrician will be able to come out, evaluate the system, and diagnose the exact problem that is happening before giving guidance on how to proceed.

About All Services

Indiana’s All Services provides quality HVAC and electrical services in Crown Point, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With more than 25 years of combined experience, the staff at All Services use their high-level problem-solving skills to perform a variety of services.