Circuit Breaker Panels
The electrical panel is the main distribution point for electricity throughout the home, therefore maintaining its efficient operation is critical to maintaining a safe, enjoyable home. Supplying power to each of the home’s electrical circuits, the electrical panel acts as the main point of connection to your electric provider and is engineered to prevent reliable electrical service. Despite dependable design, electric panels can often require repair or upgrade for a number of reasons. These include age, wear, faulty repair and even changing electrical needs. At Martella Electric, we’re well versed in the repair or replacement of electrical panels and we can help you adequately assess your needs to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your electrical panel for years to come.
Circuit Breaker Panel Basics
As the “brain” of your home’s electrical system, the circuit breaker panel controls the flow of electricity into your house. Usually providing 100 – 200 amps of power, the electrical panel distributes power to circuits located throughout your home and will break the connection to power in the event of a malfunction. Typically the electric service panel is designed to handle the power demands of a common household, however problems can occur due to a variety of circumstances:
- Increased Demand – Over time electrical use has increased dramatically and this often exceeds the capacity of a home’s electrical system. Common symptoms of an overly stressed electrical system can include lights that flicker intermittently, frequent tripping of circuit breakers and outlets that function inconsistently.
- Faulty Devices – Most residential appliances and devices operate without problem, however occasionally some can create a short circuit which can be hazardous. Often this simply requires the repair of the offending device, however in some instances the result may require the replacement of the electrical panel.
- Damage – The impairment of any part of your home’s electrical system can have a direct effect on your circuit breaker panel. Damage can occur in a variety of ways like a fallen tree limb, flooding or even animals that can damage wiring in an unseen location.
Properly designed and maintained circuit breaker panels can operate for years with few issues, however in some cases repair is necessary. At Martella Electric, we carefully assess every electrical system to determine whether the electrical panel simply needs repair, upgrade or replacement.
Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting
Normally the first indication of trouble is when a circuit breaker triggers itself and disconnects the power as a result. Although this should be a relatively uncommon occurrence, problems that cause an occasional disruption in power are frequently easy to find and diagnose. However, at Martella Electric we find that many home and business owners unknowingly overlook symptoms that suggest that a circuit breaker is bad and may require replacement. These include:
- Corrosion – Heavy corrosion on either end of the circuit breaker
- Arcing – Visible sparks or arcing should never occur and requires immediate attention
- Signs of Overheating – Scorch or burn marks strongly suggest a serious failure
- Humming – An audible humming coming from the circuit breaker
- Non-Obvious – Other conditions like extreme humidity
Needless to say, these can be symptoms that suggest a circuit breaker may need replacement or a more serious underlying condition. If you experience frequently tripping breakers or any of these symptoms, call Martella Electric and we’ll be able to quickly identify and repair your circuit breaker panel.
Electrical Panels: Replacement & Upgrades
Thankfully electrical systems are designed to provide reliable power for years with minimal maintenance, however there are instances where an electrical panel requires replacement or upgrade. Symptoms like frequently tripping circuit breakers, flickering lights or sparking are a strong indication that your electric panel requires professional attention. Although it’s difficult to determine whether a circuit breaker panel requires repair, upgrade or replacement without a full inspection, Martella Electric has found that some of the most frequent problems that require breaker panel replacement include:
- Miswiring – Occasionally electrical panels can exhibit problems as a result of errors made during repair or miswiring. Common symptoms resulting from poorly performed electrical repairs include failure of a device to turn off properly or continued running even after the switch has been shut off. Electrical shock is another indication that a repair my not have been done correctly. Since it can take time for problems due to miswiring to manifest, it can often be difficult to quickly diagnose the source of the problem.
- Circuit Overload – The most common reason for a tripped circuit breaker is an overloaded circuit. Normally this occurs when too many devices are using an individual circuit; since wiring can only accommodate a limited amount of power, circuit breakers are designed to disconnect the flow of power to prevent overheating. While the best short-term fix is to reduce the number of devices being used, the long-term solution includes the upgrade of your electric panel or possibly the replacement of your entire circuit breaker panel.
- Short Circuit – A short circuit can occur anywhere within your home, including your breaker panel. Although this can often be resolved with a simple repair, in some cases it will require the replacement of the electric panel.
- Faulty Circuit Breaker Panels – There are a number of circuit breaker panels that have been found to be hazardous, so if your home has a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE), Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania circuit breaker panel, we strongly suggests that you contact Martella Electric to have it inspected. These electrical panels possess well-document problems that could lead to serious injury or death, so contact a professional immediately for assistance if you find that you have one of these panels in your home.
Circuit breaker panels are a critical component of your home’s electrical system. Although they typically operate for years with minimal maintenance, occasional repair or upgrade is required to maintain safe and convenient operation. In some extreme cases, replacement of the electrical panel may be required. If you suspect that your circuit breaker panel may need repair, upgrade or replacement, contact Martella Electric.