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Should I Repair or Replace My Circuit Breaker Panel?

Whether you’re familiar with your circuit breaker panel or you don’t even know where it is, one thing is for sure: it plays an essential role in your home’s electrical needs. Your circuit breaker panel is the hidden powerhouse of your home’s electrical system. It controls all of your home’s circuits and acts as a central hub for you to adjust anything needed. If you suspect a problem with your circuit breaker panel, contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible for service. But what kind of service might you need; should you repair or replace the circuit breaker panel?

If the electrical panel is beyond repair, you may benefit from replacing your electrical panel rather than repeatedly calling for maintenance. However, in some cases, electricians can rewire panels and restore them to as good as new. Read on to find out what you might need in your specific situation when deciding to repair vs. replace a circuit breaker panel.

Signs It’s Time to Repair

If you’re on the fence when it comes to whether you’ll repair or replace a circuit breaker panel, use these signs to see if a repair is worth it compared to the cost to replace:

Loose wires

Over time, the wires in your breaker box can loosen from use. If your wires seem loose or feel loose when you pull gently on them, contact electric services to request they tighten the wires up and inspect them to ensure they’re in good shape. In most cases, if loose wires cause your problems, repair will take care of the issue. 

Surface damage

If your circuit breaker panel has dents or dings that bother you or you think will affect the resale value of the house, sometimes these dents can be repaired. Damage to the paint on the outside of the circuit breaker box can also be re-covered or sanded out. However, damage is definitely a case-by-case basis when you’re considering if you want to repair or replace a circuit breaker panel, so make sure to get a professional opinion even if you’re familiar with DIY repair.

Signs It’s Time to Replace

Frequent breaker tripping or failing

Your circuit breaker is designed to trip occasionally, but if this is a problem happening frequently, professionals will usually decide to replace a circuit breaker altogether. Are you experiencing problems such as flickering lights or appliances such as air conditioners and dishwashers shorting out your power every time you use them? Your appliances are likely overloading your circuits, so it’s definitely time for panel replacement.

Water damage

Water damage might be more of a nuisance when it comes to stored items in your basement or garage, but it’s a huge red flag when it comes to your electrical system. Watch out for white, chalky buildup on or near the panel, and keep an eye out for any rust or corrosion. This indicates current or former water damage, which spells trouble for your fuse box and electrical panel. Contact a licensed electrician ASAP before switching your power back on after noticing water damage.

Panel is old

Circuit breaker panels are made to last a long time, but nothing can last forever. If your panel is more than 20 years old, even if it’s in perfect shape, it likely can’t provide enough power to support modern household needs and is due for a replacement. Older homes are especially vulnerable to this problem, so make sure you know when your panel was last replaced.

Risk of electrical fire

If you see or smell smoke near your electrical panel, see scorch marks nearby, or feel heat coming from the circuits, contact electric services ASAP. These are signs that you are at risk of a house fire, and you should act now before you end up doing serious damage to your property just by turning on a few lights.  You should not attempt to repair or replace a circuit breaker panel yourself to begin with, but especially not if you might be causing a fire.

Panel is under 100 amps

When you’re choosing to repair or replace a circuit breaker panel, make sure you’re informed about your individual panel’s age and amperage. Old circuit breaker panels were only made to support 60 amps, which is a very small amount compared to the kind of power that we need in the 21st century. Standard circuit breaker panels are made to support up to 100 amps, but even these are becoming more and more obsolete as our power needs change and grow. If you’ve got a panel under 100 amps, or feel your 100-amp panel isn’t providing enough power, consider upgrading to a 200-amp panel. You’ll notice the difference right away. 

Stick With the Pros

Whether you decide to repair or replace a circuit breaker panel, remember that the final say comes down to your local electrical code. This is best left to an electrical services company that understands your utility company and electrical requirements. Cornerstone Electrical is the team you can trust if you’re looking for electrical services in Salem, NH, or the surrounding areas. Contact us today, and let us bring back the power your home needs!

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