Can a Homeowner Replace an Electrical Panel
As a prudent homeowner, you take pride in maintaining your house, keeping it tidy and in good repair. You may be accustomed to making small repairs and handling chores such as painting the walls or fixing some drywall. But for larger jobs, it’s important to be objective about whether you are really qualified to do them on your own or if professionals should be involved.
A case in point is that one issue people face after they’ve been in their home for a while--an outdated electrical panel. For some, replacing the electrical panel or breaker box is high on the to-do list.This could be because their home was built before the advent of larger, power-hungry appliances that are now dominating the market.
The power system could be struggling to keep up with electrical demands, such as a person working out of a home office with multiple computers and other gear. Work from home setups are becoming more common as more individuals are maintaining social distance. They need more gear, from big computer monitors to extra lights for video conferencing calls.
People who renovate their homes, adding a new story or a guest bedroom will often need more power capacity, especially if each room has big TVs, computers, and other electricity-hungry devices.
Or, just the fact that the electrical panel is very old means it is time for an upgrade, for safety’s sake.
About Electrical Panels
The electrical panel is the site where electricity enters your home from the utility service. It has breakers that activate when the load is high, preventing damage and accidents. Typically homeowners will label the breakers for easy identification, such as which one protects the washing machine and dryer or the dishwasher or the central air conditioning system.
If you are preparing to put your home on the market, upgrading the electrical panel now will make the abode more appealing to shoppers. There’s no need for them to have to put up with the ancient panel installed by the original builder.
I’m Handy Around the House. Should I Replace the Electrical Panel By Myself or Hire an Electrician?
You might be wondering if you as a homeowner can replace the electrical panel by yourself. If you were already a qualified, trained, and licensed electrician with years of experience, the answer would be “yes.”
But if you lack training and knowledge, it’s not only a bad idea to take this kind of project on by yourself, it could be dangerous and wind up costing you more money to sort out than if you had called in a professional to handle the work in the first place.
Depending on your location and your insurance policy, trying to replace the breaker box yourself could land you in some trouble. The city may require a permit and inspection, for example, making a do-it-yourself effort out of the question.
So if you wind up doing the work yourself and then later discover you lack the correct paperwork, you’ll wind up having to bring a professional electrician in to do the whole job over again, losing time and money.
For perspective on safety issues, consider that working with electricity requires advanced training and experience, with people being instructed by professionals in proper safety procedures.
The term “electrocution” means killed by electricity and it is a definite risk factor that electricians must always be aware of. Ordinary people with no experience working on home electricity systems would be right to be cautious and work with a pro.
Note that “More than half the electrocutions of electrical workers were caused by direct or indirect contact with live electrical equipment and wiring, including lighting fixtures, circuit breakers, control panels, junction boxes, and transformers,” according to a report from Electrical Contractor. The report explains that if only proper procedures had been followed, these deaths could have been avoided.
About 350 people die in electrical accidents every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA statistics cited by Electrical Contractor. With almost one person dying every day due to a mishap in electricity, it makes sense to rely on an expert.
Being able to take care of everything around your house is an admirable goal. People who like the do-it-yourself approach or DIY way of doing things are curious about how things work and they would rather get their hands dirty than watch someone else take care of their chores.
But while it’s great to know how to make repairs or swap out equipment, sometimes you have to defer to professionals with years of experience.
Electrical Panel Capacity
There’s another reason to bring in professionals instead of doing it on your own. When the electrician comes to look at your electrical panel, he or she may determine that there are other issues that need immediate attention, such as faulty wiring during the inspection.
After all, in older homes with very outdated breaker boxes, there may also be problems with the wiring itself that could lead to shorts and electrical fires. So even if you were going to change out an electrical panel, you would still need an electrician to remove the outdated/problematic wiring and run new lines.
Even if your home’s wiring is in good shape, there are other components to think about. That’s because, if you are in need of a new electrical panel, chances are good that your electrical outlets need an upgrade too. Older outlets that lack grounding are not as safe as those with ground fault circuit interrupters.
With a GFCI installed, it will detect dangerous situations and automatically shut off the circuit. An example is someone picking up a malfunctioning hair dryer in the bathroom and standing on a wet floor.
GFCIs have saved people’s lives from shorts in such devices. You’ll be glad that an electrician is looking after you and your family, seeing to the quality of the panel, wiring, and outlets in your home during the service call.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional, Licensed Electrician
Hiring a trained electrician is your best bet. An electrician following industry best practices knows what to look for during a home inspection. But a homeowner with just casual knowledge about electricity could easily miss something that needs to be fixed, presenting a safety hazard.
An electrician is certified, so you can feel confident that after signing off on the work, it will be legal and safe for you and your family to enjoy your upgraded electrical system. Wouldn’t you rather have a professional who is up to date on the National Electrical Code to work on your system, rather than do it alone without the background and preparation that’s truly needed?
When was the last time a qualified electrician has inspected your home’s electrical panel? If you’re not certain, chances are it’s in need of an upgrade and should be replaced sooner rather than later.
Open the door of your electrical panel and look for a tag marked with the date of the last inspection and the inspector’s initials or signature. If the last inspection was 40 years ago or more, it’s long overdue, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Make an Appointment to Upgrade Your Home’s Electrical Panel Today
You can arrange to have a professional install a brand new breaker box at your home and stop worrying about this important upgrade task. Your up-to-date electrical panel will allow you to run appliances that require more power.
What’s more, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing an expert electrician has inspected your system and replaced your panel with a much safer and useful one. To learn more about our approach to electrician work in Texas or to make an appointment for service, please contact us today.