Why Should I Upgrade My Home’s Electrical Panel?
The electrical panel and the breakers it houses are part of the lifeblood of your home. Intermittent power issues in your home that are not caused by the local utility could be related to your panel or breakers. If you’re experiencing electrical problems that involve power inexplicably ‘dropping out,’ you should seek out the help of a professional to assess the situation, in particular, the panel and breakers, to determine if you require a repair or may want to consider an upgrade. Here are a few reasons why you should consider upgrading your electrical panel, all of which come down to ensuring your safety:
Frequent Breaker Trips
It’s not unusual for an electrical breaker to trip occasionally, but frequent tripping may be cause for concern. If the same breaker keeps going off, then your circuit might be overloaded with appliances, experiencing too much electrical draw. Or it could be that an appliance plugged into that circuit is getting ready to fail (drawing too many amps) and should to be replaced – and the breaker is simply doing the job it was designed for.
An aging circuit breaker whose internal wiring may no longer be as tight as when new, can also cause repeated trips in the panel; and so can internal wiring in the panel itself that has loosened up over the years. In any case, you’ll want to have a professional electrician take a look at your equipment. If the breaker or panel is no longer functioning as designed, it should be replaced before it becomes a fire hazard. Note, when the electrical panel is replaced, all breakers are typically updated, as well.
New Breakers Have the Latest Safety Features
If you have an electrical panel that’s even a decade old, then you may be missing out on some important electrical safety features. A number of advancements developed over the past few decades have only recently become part of local code. One important example, AFCI breakers, not long ago saw just limited use in residential projects. Today, however, AFCIs are mandatory for virtually all circuits in new home construction. If you have an older home, even just ten years old, then it’s a good idea to have an electrical specialist come out and check your system, so you can learn more about how your home is powered.
Breakers Don’t Have a Typical Life Span
Your electrical system will deteriorate, over time, but as with many things in life, it’s difficult to predict the lifespan of its various components. Many factors come into play. That’s why it’s wise to have your home’s electrical system checked on a regular basis, to help spot signs of wear and tear, and help avoid unexpected parts failures.
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AFCI vs. GFCI
It’s a good idea to learn the difference between a couple of important safety devices that are integral parts of your electrical system:
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are most commonly recognized as electrical outlets that have both a red and a black button on them. Their function is to protect you from conditions at the outlet receptacle that could result in electrical shock. If, for instance, water drips into the outlet, the GFCI will shut down power to that circuit before you can zap yourself real bad. To complicate the discussion just a little, GFCIs are also a type of circuit breaker, not as common in our market, which – as with all breakers – would be located in the electrical panel. Today, GCFI protection can be found incorporated with other safety features in some of the newer breakers.
Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), are commonly known as a type of circuit breaker that, as opposed to GFCIs (which protect against shock), helps prevent fires that can be caused by damaged wire insulation or similar at-risk conditions. When an AFCI breaker senses a dangerous arc, it too will shut off power to that specific circuit. It’s important to know that it was only very recently, in 2014, that National Electrical Code (NEC) was expanded to include AFCI breakers much more broadly in new homes, now covering virtually all circuits. And just like with GFCI receptacles, there’s also such thing as an AFCI outlet receptacle, which is not very common in our area.
We know. We get it. All this alphabet soup can be a bit much. What types of breakers and safety outlets should you have in your own home? Should you consider upgrading your electrical panel and breakers? This blog isn’t the place to answer that question for your unique situation. Your best source for answers is, of course, your trusted home electrical pro.
At Save Home Heat Company, we respond regularly to requests for a wide variety of professional electrical services, big and small. A great service we provide to many of our customers is the annual home electrical assessment from one of our skilled electricians that’s included in our reasonably priced heating and cooling maintenance agreements. A similar whole-home assessment of your domestic water system by one of our experienced plumbers is also included in your comfort system maintenance agreement.
In the Denver-Boulder area, please keep Save Home Heat Company in mind for any of your home heating and cooling, hot water, plumbing and drains, indoor air quality, and electrical needs.
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