Our companies are backed by the Five Star Guarantee. Call one today!
Your Breaker Box: Common Problems (and How to Avoid Them!)September 15th, 2022 by
Turning on a light with the flip of a switch seems like magic, right? Well, it is pretty magical, but the reality is that there’s a lot of wiring behind the scenes that makes it happen.
Your home’s electricity comes from the breaker box. (You might also know it as the fuse box, breaker panel, or electrical panel.) That breaker box holds all the circuits for your entire house. The wires that make up these individual circuits bring electricity to the power outlets.
As long as the breaker box runs smoothly, everything in your house does, too. Unfortunately, problems with the breaker panel can happen. Not sure what that would look like? We’re here to help!
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Common signs of problems with the electrical panel
- How to tell if a circuit breaker is bad
- What you can do to prevent electrical problems
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Lower Your Electric Bill in the Summer
Top 3 Signs of a Breaker Box Problem
In most houses, the electrical panel is in an out-of-the-way spot, like the garage or utility room. Most panels have a door, but that isn’t required by code.
Take a close look at your circuit breaker panel. If you see any of the following three issues, call an electrician.
1. The circuits aren’t labeled, and wires are everywhere.
The circuit breaker box is where you’ll go if you need to turn off electricity to anything in the house. For this reason, you need to know what each circuit breaker controls. If the panel isn’t labeled clearly or correctly, you won’t be able to turn off or reset circuits in an emergency.
A tangle of wires leading from each circuit is also a bad sign. The wiring in your breaker panel should look neat and tidy. Look at each circuit breaker. For most of them, there should be only one wire connected to the switch.
If you see more than one wire coming from an individual breaker, call an electrician. That’s called a double-tapped breaker, and it needs to be fixed. Double-tapped breakers violate the electrical code.
2. The panel’s door or the wall surrounding it feel hot.
There shouldn’t be any noticeable warmth coming from the electrical panel or the wall around it. If it’s warm or hot to the touch, the panel is too small for your house. Call an electrician immediately.
3. There’s rust or discoloration around the circuit breakers.
If you see rust or other signs of corrosion or water damage, call an electrician. Your circuit breaker box shouldn’t be close to a water source anyway. Keep in mind, however, that high humidity can also cause moisture problems.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: What You Need to Know About Maintenance for Your Water Heater
How Do You Know if a Circuit Breaker is Bad?
Sometimes, the electrical panel works fine, but one of the circuit breakers causes problems. You might notice the following issues:
- The circuit breaker trips consistently.
- When you reset the switch, it immediately trips again.
Keep in mind that circuit breakers are safety devices. They’re designed to cut the power to a circuit when there’s a problem. If a circuit breaker trips, something has gone wrong—either with the circuit or with the breaker.
To test whether the problem is with the circuit, unplug a few things from that circuit. If you’re able to reset the breaker without issue, you probably overloaded the circuit. If the breaker trips immediately after you reset it, you might have a short (or a break, essentially) somewhere in the circuit. It’s also possible that the breaker itself is bad. But unless you’re a licensed master electrician, don’t try to dig deeper into the issue yourself. Now is the time to call on the pros.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Top 3 Common Roofing Mistakes to Avoid
Home Electrical Safety 101
You know to keep electrical devices away from water and to not overload a circuit. But what else can you do to keep your family safe?
Have a licensed professional electrician inspect your house on a regular basis.
Sounds deceptively simple, right? All the same, a lot of people don’t do it. As long as your appliances work and the lights don’t flicker, you probably don’t give your home’s electrical system much thought.
Unfortunately, plenty of things can go wrong with the wiring in your house. Without regular inspections, you might not know about them until it’s too late.
You won’t need an electrical inspection every year. In most cases, once every five years or so is perfect. Expect your electrician to look over everything electricity-related inside and outside your house. They can also give you pointers on ways you can lower your power bills.
Preventing problems is easier and less painful than fixing the aftermath of a disaster. Professional electricians have the experience and knowledge to keep your home’s electrical system safe and efficient.