Do your circuit breakers trip frequently? Do you often find that your lamps or overhead lights are flickering? If you notice your electrical system doesn’t seem to be functioning as you would expect, the problem may lie in your electrical panel.
Calgary houses over 30 years old tend to be equipped with an electrical service of 60 to 100 amps. That is simply not enough for the demands of a modern home. By comparison, recently-built residences will usually provide a 200 amp service.
Upgrading your electrical panel will ensure you have an adequate supply of clean electricity whenever you need it. It will also help protect your electronics from damage and even eliminate one of the most common electrical fire hazards.
How Long Does An Electrical Panel Last?
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) estimates an electrical panel’s life expectancy at 60 years. However, if your service panel has been exposed to harsh conditions such as extreme humidity, its useful life could be shortened considerably.
What’s more, an inadequate electrical panel, a fuse box, or certain brands of panels (for instance, Federal Pacific Electric) can be hazardous.
Fixing Flickering Or Dimming Lights
Those flickering, dimming lights that make you feel you’re living in a 70s-style disco are trying to tell you something – namely, your breaker panel (or fuse box, if you have a really old electrical system) is overloaded.
When high power capacity appliances startup, these “energy hogs” place a high demand on your service panel. To put it simply, your panel just doesn’t have enough electricity left over for your lights.
Appliances With High Electrical Demands
Now about those energy hogs: You’ll be surprised to discover they are not your electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, or even LED TVs… which actually draw a very modest amount of electricity.
No, the high demand is coming from everyday appliances, including air conditioners, electric water heaters, stoves, and dishwashers. Want to know the worst culprits? Your hot tub (if you own one) and your humble clothes dryer (which you almost certainly have).
Back in the day, our grandparents sat out on the porch on a hot summer’s day and hung the laundry to dry. Because they didn’t use all the appliances we take for granted, they didn’t need such a powerful electrical panel. But if your house was built according to their standards, now you’ve got a problem.
Electrical Panel Trips Frequently
Yes, it’s annoying to experience frequent electrical panel trips. However, breakers trip and fuses blow to protect you and your home.
They occur for 3 reasons:
- There is a short circuit somewhere in your system. This means that a “hot” wire has come in contact with a “neutral” or another “hot” wire. The resulting current overheats the breaker until it trips.
- A ground fault is similar to a short circuit, except that here the “hot” wire is touching the “ground” wire. This is extremely dangerous since your outlet will no longer be safely grounded.
- Your electrical service is overloaded. Moving some appliances to other circuits (or switching them off altogether) may help to distribute demand more evenly, but that tends to be a temporary solution. Upgrade your electrical panel for long-term convenience and safety.
All of the above are serious problems which require professional electrical repairs.