Lately, the electrical power in your home has been spotty. Your lights flicker every time you use a hair dryer or the microwave. You plug in the newest addition to your home entertainment system and promptly blow a fuse. What's causing the problem? It might be that your home's electrical panel is outdated and in need of an upgrade. Modern households tend to have electrical devices running 24 hours a day, and even electronics and systems that are turned off but remain plugged in can siphon electrical current. Older homes or buildings are often just not able to keep up with the power demand. If you suspect your home is due for an upgrade, contact a licensed professional to assess the situation.
Do I Need an Upgrade?
The most obvious sign that you need a service upgrade is when your electrical circuits simply can not keep up with your needs. If you have to unplug one appliance in order to use another without tripping the breaker, or if certain activities cause your lights to flicker, you're probably overtaxing your electrical panel. Even if you are not experiencing frequent losses of service, however, you might be ripe for a panel upgrade. If your current service panel has less than 200 amps of electricity available, or if your panel has screw-in fuses, the system is out-of-date. As a general rule, if your house is more than 20 years old, it's worth looking into an electrical panel upgrade.
Can I Wait to Upgrade?
Home repairs, especially to the electrical system, are not cheap. However, it's never a good idea to put off residential electrical repairs. An outdated, overstressed electrical panel is not just inconvenient-it can also be dangerous. If your home is filled with power strips and extension cords because you have far more electrical devices than outlets, you're asking each outlet to work beyond its intended capacity. If one of these circuits overheats and blows under the strain, it could affect your computer, printer, television, video game console, and whatever else is attached. Additionally, overheating panels and circuits are a fire hazard. Upgrade your electrical panel before it reaches this point to protect your property and your family from harm.
Can I Fix It Myself?
An electrical panel upgrade really is not a DIY project. Repairing and upgrading the electrical wiring for an entire home is extremely complicated-and there's a lot at stake if it is not done correctly. Additionally, working with electrical wiring carries the risk of electrocution, as well as being a fire hazard. Unless you are trained in electrical system repair and installation, call a professional residential electrician for your upgrade.