There are many reasons to buy an older home: architectural significance, charm and beauty, or that sense of solid construction you get from plaster walls and brick, stucco, or adobe exteriors. But inside those walls, outdated wiring may create a dangerous situation for your family, especially if those wires run through circuits controlled by an outdated electrical panel. Here are five signs your home’s service panel needs an upgrade.
If your electrical box is filled with fuses, you’re looking at a very old system which is beyond its anticipated useful life. Most modern building codes require circuit breakers. Even though you can still get replacement fuses when one of yours “blows,” the inconvenience of having an entire electrical circuit in your home out of commissions while you wait to replace a fuse, not to mention the underlying overload that may have caused the fuse to blow in the first place, are reasons enough to upgrade your electrical service panel.
Lights that dim or flicker indicate you’re trying to draw more electrical power on that circuit than the circuit can supply. In some cases, flickering lights can indicate an underlying wiring problem. Either way, flickering lights are one of the most common signs that your home’s service panel needs an upgrade.
Your older home or outdated electrical panel may not be able to handle the power requirements of newer appliances or the proliferation of devices in your home. If you blow a fuse or your circuit breaker trips every time you use a particular appliance, it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel.
As your family grows, you may add additional electronic devices. Suddenly your home is crawling with extension cords and surge protectors. You don’t have enough electrical outlets to manage all your televisions, chargers, laptops, or even the beer fridge in the garage. If you need to add more outlets, you should upgrade your electrical service panel to manage them.
Circuit breakers that trip repeatedly are trying to tell you that they’ve had enough—or more accurately, too much. The demands on the circuit are beyond its capacity. Get that checked out right away.
Sparks, smoke, and burning smells are code red for electrical issues. If your electrical panel feels hot, or if there’s a burning smell coming from it, call a home electrical repair service immediately. Burning smells are serious signs that your home is at risk of an electrical fire from faulty wiring or an overloaded, outdated electrical box. Listen to its message and contact a licensed electrician right away.