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WHAT IS AN ELECTRIC PANEL?

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), you should make regular checks to your electric panel, even if you haven’t needed to undertake any electrical fixes. In particular, you should check for signs of rust or scorching, both of which indicate underlying damage to the system.

Electrical panel maintenance, therefore, should be part of your regular routine. However, in some situations, it will be necessary for you to upgrade your electric panel to a more advanced system.

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WHY DO I NEED TO UPGRADE MY ELECTRIC PANEL?

As a rule of thumb, electric panels need replacing every 25-40 years, so if your home is that age, there’s a likelihood that you will need to upgrade. However, there are other key signs to look out for that will tell you when your existing system is becoming outdated.

FAULTY WIRING

When it comes to electricity and wiring within a home, safety is paramount. Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of fires in Canadian homes. Generally, the older wiring is, the more likely it is to be faulty, but having your electric panel inspected regularly by a professional electrician will identify any issues.

Installing new Appliance

One of the primary reasons for upgrading an electric panel is because it simply does not have the capacity to deal with modern appliances. If you are intending to install a major new appliance to your home (such as an air conditioner or hot tub), your existing electric panel may not suffice.

If you add an air conditioner without upgrading your electric panel, then the power provided by your electric panel might not be enough, and the circuit breakers will keep tripping.

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ADDING CIRCUIT BREAKER

As mentioned above, circuit breakers are a more modern version of fuses. Both function under the same principle – namely, that when the current in a circuit gets too high, they break the circuit, and prevent electricity from flowing. This provides a major safety feature within a home.

The key difference between a fuse and a circuit breaker is that fuses are single-use. They work by melting when the current is too high. Not only does replacing a fuse require additional effort comparing with resetting a circuit breaker, but also some fuses can actually be fire hazards. Home builders no longer install fuse boxes into homes.

If you have a fuse box in your home, then it is certainly worth investigating an upgrade. Not only do fuse boxes create additional safety concerns, but they could be a reason that home insurance companies refuse to cover your home (or pay out if you do get coverage).

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FUTURE PROOFING

By the same token as above, preparing your home for the future is a solid reason for upgrading your electrical panel. Effectively, electrical panels need to be replaced once every generation (at least), so if you are undertaking some remodeling or rewiring, it is worth bundling in an electrical panel upgrade.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, then being able to offer a recent upgrade is a sure sign that the infrastructure of the home is up to scratch; furthermore, it means that the future owners will not need to do it for the foreseeable future, potentially boosting your home’s value.

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CONCLUSION

Every modern house runs on electricity. Increasingly, our demand for electricity and the number of gadgets we use is putting a strain on our existing electrical infrastructure. If your home has an electric panel that is more than a generation old, it could be time for an upgrade. Certainly, if you are experiencing poor service, or the existing system appears dangerous, an upgrade is essential.

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