Whether you're an apprentice or journeyman on service calls, you're going to come across a lot of different types of panels. Of course, one of the most essential components homeowners care about is safety, so you'll need to know the specific signs of an electric panel that needs to be replaced. So let's dive in!
Where are Electrical Panels Located?
Electrical panels are often buried inside a wall with a small access cover exposed in an obscure location like a laundry room, closet, or sometimes outside of the building on an exterior wall. Knowing where the electrical panel is located in a commercial building or home is vital in case of flood, electrical fire, or risk of shock due to an exposed wire. It should also be readily and easily accessible at all times.
Knowing how to identify the main breaker that disconnects all of the branch circuits is also important. This is usually at the top or bottom of the panel and labeled "MAIN." It will typically be set apart a few inches from the branch circuit breakers, which are very closely spaced together in rows.
Turning off the main breaker should disconnect all power from the home. Of course, main breakers can fail, but in most cases, this breaker will fail in the off/disconnected position making the panel disconnected to the point of that main breaker.
Signs That Service is Needed on an Electrical Panel
If the home’s current electrical panel is over 25 years old, less than 200 amp service, or is at maximum capacity, you'd benefit from the improved safety provided by upgrading your electrical panel. If some of the breakers in an older panel are not functioning properly and a complete panel upgrade isn’t currently in your budget, replacing the faulty breakers with newly manufactured breakers can improve the panel’s safety while you save for an entire panel replacement. At Big Electric Supply we offer new replacement breakers for most panel brands, including older obsolete panel brands such as Federal Pacific, Zinsco, Pushmatic, and others.
Breaker(s) won't stay on/engaged and continually need to be reset
If you're constantly resetting the circuit breakers, chances are the electrical panel is old or worn out. We suggest changing out every single one of the breakers. There are several kinds of new replacement breakers or replacement parts. At Big Electric Supply, we offer various replacement breakers and components that are ETL listed to the UL standard, so you can have peace of mind when working on your next job site.
Damage or pitting on bus bar
The bus bar in an electrical panel is the long bar on one or both sides of the panel containing many electrical lines in the home's wiring. Over time, the bus bar can become pitted and damaged. Burns or corrosion indicates a problem with the circuit breaker, the panel, or both. Either way, we recommend replacing the electric panel.
Water inside of the enclosure
Water inside an electric panel can corrode the components in a short amount of time. Condensation is primarily caused by rainwater penetrating the cables through tiny cracks and holes, funneling into your electrical panel and causing significant damage.
Loose wires or breakers
Loose or messy wiring can pose a threat due to natural wear and tear. Bad wiring practices can also be hazardous and may require the electrical panel to be replaced or upgraded.
Heat radiating from the electrical panel
Loose connections in electrical systems cause heat. This is due to the resistance that is created by the connection not allowing the flow that a tight connection would allow. The greater the resistance, the greater the heat. When the resistance gets too high, fires and failure will occur in breakers and wires.
Safety Tip: Always be very careful when working with electricity. Make sure that there is no power to the breaker box before attempting to perform any work on it.
Need Hard to Find Electrical Parts? Restock at Big Electric Supply
As an electrician, you need to be well-stocked and ready to meet the needs of your clients. At Big Electric Supply, we have many of the parts, pieces and tools you need to keep your customers' electrical systems in ideal condition. From the major circuit breaker brands, such as Square D, Eaton, and GE, to replacement breakers from Connecticut Electric for those obsolete brands like Federal Pacific, Pushmatic, and Zinsco, we can help you with your electrical supplies for completing your next remodel.
Make sure to take a look at our hot deals so you can get safe electrical products. We only offer professional quality electrical products for professional electricians.