When to Replace or Upgrade Your Electrical System

electrical panel upgrade

Here in Northern Virginia, you may have a home that’s well over 100+ years old, or you may live in a home that’s about 20 years old. On average, though, the homes in our neighborhood are in the 30-50 year old range. (The median age of homes in Woodbridge, VA is 35 years, with 66% of those homes owned, 27% rented and 6% not occupied.)

Back in those days, a home’s electrical needs were far different from those of today. Most families had a central lighting source in each room with a couple of two-pronged outlets. Most families had one TV, one refrigerator, one washer and one dryer. Microwaves had not yet become common and all of today’s computer and modern entertainment systems—to say nothing of electric car charging stations—were just a sci-fi dream for most people. Clearly, there have been a lot of changes since then, and it’s possible that your home electrical system needs an upgrade. So how do you know when to replace or upgrade your electrical system? Here are some signs to watch out for:

Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Home Electrical System

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, your home probably needs an electrical system upgrade:

  • Do you frequently have circuit breakers tripping and fuses blowing?
  • Are there outlets or lights in your house that do not have power, even after you flick the light switch or replace the light bulbs?
  • Does your electrical panel feel hot to the touch? Do you smell burning or hear crackeling when you stand near the electrical panel?”?
  • Speaking of electric panels, is yours a Federal Pacific, GTE/Sylvania, Zinsco or I-T-E Pushmatic? If so, you need to have an electrical panel replacement immediately for safety reasons! (All of these models have been recalled.)
  • Do you find yourself having to use a lot of extension cords or power strips to support all of your devices?
  • Does your home have two-pronged electrical outlets (as opposed to the safer, more modern 3-pronged, grounded and “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” GFCI outlets)?
  • Have you built additions to your home like a new garage, office or workshop?
  • Have you recently installed any new large appliances (heat pumps, air conditioners, etc.) that suck up a lot of electricity?
  • Does your circuit breaker trip when you operate a hair dryer?

If so, you should call Root Electric. Electrical service upgrades are intensely complex, different in each house and definitely not DIY material—it can be dangerous if not handled by experts, and definitely go against most local ordinances and home-owners insurance policies.

Electric Service Upgrades: What You Need to Know

Generally speaking, when our residential electricians do an electrical service upgrade to a home, we upgrade the power available from between 200 amps to 400 amps. More may be necessary depending on your home and needs. And we literally revamp every aspect of the electricity in your home including:

  • Line-side service entrance cable
  • Meter base
  • Weather head
  • Load-side service entrance cable
  • Grounding and bonding
  • The electrical panel and any subpanels
  • Outlets and switches

The complexity of the job often depends also on whether or not the home has undergone a lot of structural layout changes over the years. If not, then usually the job is easier than if there have been a lot of changes. Whatever the situation, our prime concern is making your house safer and more able to handle the demands of modern life.

So call our Northern Virginia residential electricians if you answered yes to any of the above questions and get your electrical service upgrade before dangerous problems arise: (703) 494- 3989

Bill Root

About the author

During my tenure at Root Electric, I lead the transition of Root Electric from a primarily sub-contracting based business model to a prime-contracting based business model. Accomplishments have been made by developing a team based approach to researching and implementing a service-specific client management system.

My goals for the next five years are to fine tune Root Electric's brand strategy and to diversify its scope of services, while remaining true to the discipline of electrical work.