Needing an electrical panel upgrade isn’t something out of the ordinary. A time may come in the lifecycle of your home when the current panel can no longer supply enough power to run all the lights, appliances, and other items that require electricity — at least not as efficiently as in the past. Though most signs are fairly straightforward, others can be more elusive.

  1. Tripping breakers.

It’s common for breakers to trip from time to time. That’s the way panels work. When drawing too much power from a given circuit, its breaker will cut off the power to that area of the home. While this isn’t an automatic sign that the panel requires electrical services, tripping with great frequency often is.

  1. Dimming lights.

Dimming or flickering lights aren’t immediate causes for alarm. The culprit could be something as simple as an old light bulb. If that’s not the cause, it could be a sign of an overloaded circuit — or even circuits, for that matter. Some electrical maintenance may be in order through additional circuits or an entire electrical panel upgrade.

  1. Burning smell.

A burning smell from the electrical panel is never a good sign, as it could indicate a failing circuit breaker. Though this should go without saying, failing breakers can lead to a house fire. Shut off the main power to the home and immediately call an electrician for emergency electrical services.

  1. No breakers.

If your home was built before the 60s, you may open your panel to find no breakers. Instead, there’ll be a fuse panel, which is a fire hazard. That’s a certain sign your home would benefit from an electrical panel upgrade.

  1. Sloppy wiring.

Not everyone understands how to read electrical schematics. But you don’t need to be in the trade to tell that something is not right when the wiring in the panel is in such disarray that it looks like a rat’s nest. A professional may not have been involved in its installation. At the very least, bring in an electrician to check it out.

  1. Rust or corrosion.

First, you don’t want to see rust or corrosion in an electrical panel. Whether it’s on a breaker, screw, wire, or any other component, both rust and corrosion can be signs of an outdated panel, moisture damage, or some other issue. Again, contact an electrician immediately.

  1. Unusual noises.

Circuit breakers don’t typically make sounds. Even a buzzing noise can indicate that a breaker isn’t working properly. The issue should be addressed, and you may learn that an electrical panel upgrade is in your future. Other sounds, like crackling, popping, or sizzling, aren’t something to mess with. They can pose a serious fire hazard. As with rust, corrosion, and a burning smell, contact an electrician immediately.

  1. Unusually high utility bills.

If you’ve seen changes in your utility bills without any real change in your power usage, something could be wrong with the wiring in your panel. Electrical maintenance may help correct the problem — but it could also indicate that it’s time to upgrade the electrical panel.

  1. Adding appliances.

Whenever adding appliances not originally included in a home, bringing in an electrician before installation is never a bad decision. They’ll go through the traditional electrical inspection checklist to determine whether your current panel has enough power to meet the needs of the new appliance and your home. It may require the addition of another breaker or a new panel altogether.

  1. Original to the home.

Unfortunately, electrical panels don’t last forever. Even if you’re not experiencing any issues with the system or seeing obvious signs of damage, you may need an electrical panel upgrade when it is original to the home. Bring in an electrician for an inspection to determine whether the panel is healthy.

Safety is of top concern when it comes to your electrical panel. There’s no getting around that. If the lights are dimming, the breakers are tripping more frequently, and signs of wear and tear have become evident, upgrading your panel may be a good idea. A quick call to a licensed electrician can help determine if the time has come. Contact your local Mister Sparky today!