How Old is Your Electric Panel? Three Reasons to Care
- Categories: Electrical
- Date: August 12, 2019
You probably don’t pay a lot of attention to your home’s electrical panel. But you should, because it does wear out. Some ways to tell: Are the breakers in your box tripping often? Are they difficult to reset? If so, the panel may not be able to handle the electrical usage of your household. Why should you care about the age of your electrical panel?
It Becomes Dangerous
Old electrical panels are more than inefficient; they’re also fire hazards. The electricity entering your home passes through your electrical box. These boxes are designed to cut the flow of electricity to your house when an overload is detected. Breakers inside the box stop the flow of electricity when this situation occurs.
If your electrical panel cannot handle an overload, the box will overheat and cause an electrical fire. Electrical fires in panels located in the basement or garage often go undetected until they are out of control, and electrical fires are difficult to put out.
It Becomes Inefficient
The electrical usage of today’s households far exceeds the electrical needs of families not so long ago. Those households used electricity to light their homes and later to run one or two small appliances. Today the electrical service to a home often supports multiple appliances and electronic devices.
Older electrical panels rated at 60 amps or less cannot support the electrical needs of the modern family. The average household requires an electrical box rated at 100 amps, and today’s homebuilders are often installing electrical panels supporting 150 or 200 amps.
It Becomes Substandard
The National Electric Code (NEC) establishes minimum safety standards for the installation of a circuit breaker panel. These standards address the box location, height, and clearance. You are not allowed to install a breaker box in a bathroom. Ideally, the electrical panel of a residential home should sit in the basement.
Circuit breaker panels must be hung no lower than four feet and no higher than six feet and have a three-foot clearance around the box. The panel box door should open uninhibited to a 90°angle.
Do you know the age of your electrical panel? You can determine the age of your electrical system using various methods, but some of these DIY assessments can be dangerous. Consider consulting a professional to do the job for you. If your electrical panel is too old or no longer up to code, this same professional can safely install a new electrical box that meets your needs.
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