When Should You Replace Your Electric Panel
>> If Your Home is More than 25 Years Old, an Electric Panel Change May be Necessary
Here at Root Electric, our Northern Virginia electricians are always concerned with safety, and we are very anxious that homeowners in the area call us if they suspect they may need an electric panel change. There are several signs that this may be necessary, and it is important for homeowners, particularly those living in houses over the age of 25, to give us a call if any of the following conditions apply:
- The lights dim or flicker any time a major appliance comes on (such as a refrigerator or air conditioner).
- The electric panel ever feels hot to the touch
- If the electric panel is a Federal Pacific, Zinsco, I-T-E Pushmatic, or GTE/Sylvania brand: all of these have been off the market for years because of serious safety issues. If your home has one of these brands, we recommend an immediate electric panel change for the safety of your home and family.
- An electric panel change is also generally recommended for “split-buss” electrical panels that were popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Instead of having one circuit breaker to shut down the whole panel if necessary, the split-buss panel has up to six main breakers. Our 21st century lifestyles, with multiple TVs, computers, refrigerators and other electronics have made these electric panels obsolete and often subject to overload, power outages, reliability and safety issues.
- We also recommend electric panel change for fused load centers because replacement parts are difficult to find and often improperly maintained, which can also cause safety problems.
We urge customers with any of the above conditions to call us immediately so that we can come and assess the situation. We evaluate electric panels on a case-by-case basis, judging by the condition, age, brand, model and the availability of replacement parts. Sometimes an electric panel only needs repair or replacement parts. Square D, Cutler-Hammer (CH) and General Electric panels are generally well-built and may only need a few upgrades. Other times, however, we do recommend an entire electric panel change for our customers’ safety.
When we do replace an electric panel, we generally use General Electric brand because of their flexible installation configurations, copper buss bars, ample room for wires and readily available replacement components. We can also install other types of electric panels, such as Cutler-Hammer (CH), Square D QO, or Eaton/Cutler-Hammer (BR), depending upon the customer’s needs.
It was obvious from the start that Bill Root, the owner and founder, and his staff genuinely like what they do. In our original call, Bill tried to walk us through the problem to see if it was something we could handle ourselves. When it was clear that they needed to come out to our Fairfax Station home, they scheduled a visit promptly. The Root Electric team was punctual, very courteous, respectful of the property and efficient. All took the time to explain things. We highly recommend Root Electric for its skill and customer service.
Fairfax Station, VA
A complete electric panel change also includes upgrading the grounding and bonding system to protect against electrical shock. This also improves circuit breaker response times whenever there is a short circuit. We also usually replace the load side service entrance cable during the upgrade, particularly in older homes. The fiberglass outer jacket on these cables has often deteriorated from exposure to the elements over time, which exposes the neutral wires and conductors on the inside. Replacing the cable improves the safety of the service equipment.