What Are Common Defects In The Main Breaker Panel?
When you sell your home, electrical issues from a home inspection report can cause buyers a great deal of anxiety. They might perceive the issues as a fire or shock hazard, and a long list can give them the impression that the house is unsafe. Hence, an electrical panel repair service is overdue.
Even when you don’t plan on selling your home, keeping your electrical system in good condition is important if you want you and your family to feel safe in your home. Red Electricians can spot defects with your electrical panel and tell you what you can do to fix them.
Here is a quick list of defects frequently found in an electrical panel.
- Double Tapped Breakers
The NEC has prohibited double-tapping breakers since 1935. The connection at the breaker’s terminal is its weakest point, where most problems likely occur. Some modern breakers are designed to support two circuits, but there is rarely a good reason to do so.
Double-tapping can potentially overload the circuit, causing the breaker to trip. Double taps can also cause loose connections and overheating. If you need to add a circuit to your panel and all your breaker slots are taken, consider upgrading your electrical panel or installing a tandem breaker.
- Mismatched Breakers
Does it matter if your breaker is from a different manufacturer than your electrical panel? While this is not an issue, it could be for older electrical panels. Modern breakers have a standard design, making them usable for any make and model of the panel. Call an electrician to verify so you can make an informed decision regarding your breaker and panel.
- Open Knockouts
What are knockouts? A knockout is a hole drilled into the panel for wires or screws. Manufacturers anticipate how you will use the panel and provide you with knockouts, so you don’t need to drill the holes yourself. You need only remove the knockouts to use the pre-drilled holes for wiring and screws. If not in use, it is important to keep the knockouts closed to prevent pests like insects, rodents, and snakes from entering the panel, which can damage your wiring.
- Missing Grommets
Grommets are required to prevent conductors from damage. Cables in an electrical panel need to be secured to prevent strain on the connections in the panel and overcrowding.
What happens if you overload a panel?
When you overload your electrical panel, it can damage sensitive devices in your electrical system, such as computers and refrigerators, or it can lead to an increased risk of electric shock or fire. An overloaded panel can cause these problems:
- Power Issues
An overloaded panel causes your breakers to trip. While the breaker can occasionally trip, consistent tripping, even after moving devices to other circuits, is a sign you need to upgrade your panel to increase capacity.
Excessive amounts of current can cause your panel, wiring, breakers, and other components to overheat, posing a fire risk. During normal operation, these electrical components may feel warm, but if they become unusually hot to the touch or you smell something burning in your panel, call an electrician immediately.
Buzzing and sparking in or near the service panel indicate a major electrical problem. Overloading can damage breakers, wiring, and other connections, causing them to spark or create buzzing noises.
Are Square D electrical panels Safe?
Square D is an electrical equipment manufacturer in the US founded in 1902 by two electrical engineers. The company mostly manufactures circuit breakers. However, on March 18, 2014, the CPSC or Consumer Products Safety Commission published a recall for roughly 28,400 Square D circuit breakers, as they failed to trip when an electrical overload occurred, posing a serious fire risk and electric shock.
The recall was for circuit breakers sold from May 2013 to June 2013. If you have a Square D circuit breaker in your home, it is recommended you let a licensed electrician inspect your breakers to determine if you have the recalled breaker. Square D circuit breakers have since been improved, and newer models are safe for use. You can always call Red Electricians for an extensive inspection of your circuit breakers.
How many breakers can be in a 200 amp panel?
A 200 amp electrical panel has 40 to 42 slots for single-pole breakers or 20 for double-pole breakers. But while a 200 amp panel has many slots for circuit breakers, that does not always mean you can use them all. The number of circuit breakers depends on how much load you need and should not exceed the maximum amp service, which is 200 amps.
When should I have a panel upgrade?
You should upgrade your main electrical panel every 25 to 40 years to ensure your panel complies with the latest building code regulations and standards. The following signs should also warrant a panel upgrade:
- Tripping Circuit Breakers
When your circuit breaker constantly trips, you might need to upgrade your breaker to increase its capacity. Overloaded breakers will trip even if you move your electrical devices to different circuits.
- Burning Smell
A burning smell or smoke indicates your panel is overloaded, and wires and connections are exposed to excessive current, creating too much heat. An overheated panel is hot to the touch and should be replaced or upgraded.
How do you maintain an electrical panel?
To protect your electrical panel, you need to do regular maintenance. It is best to keep the panel lid shut at all times to keep off dust and debris, periodically check for signs of rust and moisture, and replace breakers that constantly trip. Don’t hesitate to call a licensed electrician to keep your electrical panel in good working condition.
With your questions about electrical panels answered, feel free to call the expert electricians at Red Electricians anytime if you need assistance with your electrical system. We are ready to be of service 24/7.