Summertime and your AC is working, and so is the rest of your electrical system. That’s why summer is a common time for problems with aging electrical panels. So how can you be sure yours is ready for its summer workout? Tim Boulden is here to help explain why this is an important time of year for a panel inspection.
Tim, why do we even need to think about inspecting our panel?
Most people think that an electrical panel is a lifetime appliance. Unfortunately that’s not the case because it is what distributes all the electricity throughout the home. So it’s a very important appliance obviously to take care of for many safety reasons that most people are aware of.
I know the EPA says that our electrical consumption doubles every 20 years so an aging panel, I guess, would definitely be something to worry about if you have an old one. What are some warning signs we should look at in our panel?
I think what people will notice first when a panel started to age is when they have circuit breakers that are regularly tripping. Now this could be caused by a couple of things. It could be because there’s too many circuits running into one breaker or it can be the fact that the breaker’s starting to age.
So a breaker actually wears over time?
It does. The breaker is designed to trip if there is a problem because the electric’s surging through it. So over time the breakers will fail. The difficulty is sometimes if they will fail and won’t come back on. The other problem is though sometimes they will fail and it won’t trip like it’s supposed to if there’s an electrical problem.
That’s a good reason to get an inspection right there.
It is. It’s also for safety. If people are working, doing minor electrical problems around their house, they should never turn off a breaker and assume power is off to that circuit because if the breaker has failed, power could still be going to that area. So they want to make sure that they also test the area to make sure the power’s been turned off.
Sure, like use a lamp or something you plug into an outlet I guess, be one way you can go to figure that out.
Little power tester.
Yeah, and then I guess that’s one reason you’d call for someone to come check your panels. What are some other service options we can look at for our electrical service, specifically with the panel?
One of the ways we think that you’re best at protecting your home and your family is to be a Boulden Brothers Club Member because we’re going to come out every third year and rejuvenate your panel. And what we mean by rejuvenate is we’re going to take out every breaker and make sure that all the connected wires or the wires that are connected to the breakers are tight. Because what happens over time is the wires expand and contract as the power’s going through them and not, they can cause the screws and the breaker to loosen. And any time you have a loose connection that’s when you have a chance for an arc or a problem in your system.
That would probably be the point when you’re looking at a possible replacement.
It could be. A panel, if properly maintained, should be a 15, 20 plus year appliance, but if it’s not properly maintained or if it’s been grossly undersized, it may not last that long.
That’s a great case for making sure that you service your panel regularly.
I think so, and it’s the one area of the home that most people that are comfortable with home improvement products should be very leery, and should be very careful because you need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to be actively working in the panel.
Yeah. I think electric and gas are the two things you shouldn’t try to work on yourself.
I would agree.
Right. You can learn more about how Boulden Brothers qualified electricians can help you keep the power going in the summer and all year here at Bouldenbrothers.com