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Electrical Panel Repairs and Upgrades

Electrical panels are the unsung heroes of the modern electrical system because they provide electricity and protect the wiring of your home. They work discreetly out of view, supplying power throughout a house and allowing us to enjoy the comfort and convenience of electricity on-demand. These devices are working harder today than ever before as new electricity-consuming appliances become standard in the average household. 

After many years of heavy usage, these panels experience wear and tear and need to be upgraded and repaired from time to time to continue functioning safely. This article overviews what to watch for and when to schedule home electrical repairs to keep your panel in good working condition for many years.

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What Are Electrical Panels?

An electrical panel receives power from the utility company and transfers it to your home, and is responsible for distributing electricity throughout the electrical circuits in each room. Its main components include a weather proof housing unit, circuit breakers, a ground wire, a ground bar, a neutral bar, and hot bus bars. The circuit breakers and fuses are in place to protect circuits from overloading and overheating the house wiring. 

Whenever you add additional appliances, lighting, plugs, or any other equipment, to the system you’re demanding more from your electrical panel. This device performs its critical functions tirelessly without any breaks, which is why it’s so important to maintain the unit and ensure prompt electrical repair service whenever it malfunctions.

Why Do Electrical Panels Need Upgrading?

As time goes on and the need for electricity continues to increase, panels need to be upgraded to support the amount of use and the growing demand. If your home is old, your electrical panel is probably less than 100 amps, which isn’t sufficient for supporting modern electricity consumption rates. Today, many people upgrade to higher amps — usually up to 200 to 400 — for optimal electrical flow and safety.

Here are some other reasons you might need to upgrade your panel in the future:

  • To sustain the needs of new electric appliances, such as a central air system
  • To update an old system that is no longer sufficient for your needs
  • To increase the value of your property
  • To minimize the amount of homeowner’s insurance you pay
  • To prevent power surges and electrical fires
  • To keep electricity flowing steadily
  • For peace of mind that your system is functioning safely

How to Tell When an Electrical Panel Requires an Upgrade

As a rule of thumb, a panel should be replaced every 50 years at the very least, but some need to be upgraded as regularly as every 25 years, especially if the panel constantly works at full capacity.

Use the following list as a guide for determining whether or not you need to replace your panel soon, as these are some of the surefire signs that you need to upgrade:

  • You notice a continuous burning smell
  • You feel a shock or a tingling sensation when you touch electric appliances
  • You can see visible discoloration around power outlets
  • Power outlets spark when you use them
  • The electrical panel is warm to the touch
  • The lights around the house are dim or flickering
  • You can see rust or signs of scorching

How Much Does a Panel Upgrade Typically Cost?

The cost of a circuit breaker box repair or replacement varies with the type of home you have, the number of circuits in your system, and your current amperage (electrical current strength). 

The average cost of a main electrical panel upgrade can vary quite a lot due to the number of variables associated with it. Some of those variables are the square footage of your home, if your panel surface mounted to your exterior wall or flush mounted to the exterior wall, if your utility company is providing service from an overhead source or an underground source, does the grounding need to be upgraded, will you be installing solar in the future, will the utility company allow it to stay in the same location. These are just a few things that greatly change the cost of this type of upgrade and/or installation. 

Gubrud’s recommends an onsite visit in order to provide an accurate quote if you feel you need to upgrade your panel, but we also understand that some people are only looking for a price range to plan future projects. An average panel upgrade can cost between $2,500 to $5,500 for most overhead panels and can often reach up to $15,000 for underground fed panels depending on trenching and concrete work. 

Feel free to contact Gubrud’s to help narrow down these costs when you’re ready.

What Are the Steps Involved in an
Electrical Panel Upgrade?

Unless you are a licensed electrician with experience handling panel work, you should never attempt to repair or replace your panel by yourself. The job involves live wires and a high level of risk, which demands the expertise of a qualified electrician. If you’d simply like to know what your electrician will be doing, we’ve outlined each step of the process for you below. 

Contact the local utility company

Before a main metered electrical panel can be replaced, the local utility company must be notified and a representative needs to come out to visually see the project before it can be approved to be replaced.

Obtain a building permit

A permit must be pulled for all work having to do with local utilities.  

Coordinate with utility company 

The utility company must be contacted again to schedule the electrical service to be disconnected to allow the electrical work to be performed. 

New panel install steps

Once the utility company has the main service disconnected the following steps are performed:

  • Removal of the old circuit breakers and labeling of existing wiring
  • Installation of new panel and service pipe
  • Updated grounding to code (new ground rods x2, cold water bonding, gas to cold water bonding, low voltage bonding hub)
  • Installation of all new breakers and proper labeling
  • Sealing of all penetrations
  • Inspection
  • Coordinate with the utility company to come back and hook up the main service wires
  • Turn all all circuits and test the system
  • Haul away all old equipment and properly dispose

What Happens if I Don’t Promptly
Replace My Electrical Panel?

When left unchecked, panels older than 40 years can turn into fire hazards; overloaded panels can easily get hot enough to start a fire — and electrical fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish. They spread quickly and can become uncontrollable before even being detected. 

So, even if it’s not yet time to completely replace your panel, you can negate your fire risk by scheduling regular maintenance and panel repairs through Gubrud’s. Our team is fast, professional, and committed to your family’s safety.

Time for an Upgrade? Contact Gubrud’s

If your electrical panel is past its prime, underperforming, or displaying any of the signs of age outlined above, it’s probably time to upgrade. By delegating this project to a team of trained professionals, you’ll enjoy full power distribution throughout your home and gain peace of mind knowing the job has been done correctly and safely. 

Contact Gubrud’s via the online form and let us know how we can help. We specialize in all electrical repairs and upgrades, and we’re ready to give your family a professional experience.