Preparing the Home (and Breaker Panel) for the Extra Stress of Holiday Visitors
The holiday season can be a very stressful time for homeowners, especially those tasked with hosting friends and relatives for the year’s festivities. Managing the different personalities, keeping the kitchen stocked, sorting out the sheer logistics of having so many bodies under one roof – even the toughest, most patient hosts can get burnt out from orchestrating such a massive feat.
But the stress doesn’t stop with the hosts – the home’s breaker panel is performing a similar (and equally tricky) balancing act at the same time. More people in the house means more electricity is being used at any given time, especially with the extra cooking, laundry, charging electronics, and television usage – not to mention any luminous outdoor decorations. An old or faulty breaker panel may not handle the load – which could make for one gloomy gathering.
What Is a Breaker Panel (And What Does It Do)?
A breaker panel (sometimes referred to as a breaker box or distribution board) is essentially the primary hub for a home’s electricity supply. Electrical current from the city power lines goes through the electric meter box and on into the breaker panel, usually located on the side of the house or in the garage. From there, power is distributed throughout the home via several circuits, which are controlled by breakers. One master breaker controls all of these subsidiary circuits.
In the event of a short-circuit, power surge, or circuit overload, the corresponding breaker automatically trips (shuts off) to prevent fire and electrocution hazards. Most panels feature a grounding rod, which discharges excess current safely into the ground.
Signs a Breaker Panel Needs Repairing
If the circuit breakers frequently trip or appliances don’t seem to work properly when certain outlets or light fixtures are in use, it’s likely an issue at the breaker box. If the breaker switches or the panel itself are hot (or even warm) to the touch, it’s not a good sign. Similarly, if the panel is making any hissing, crackling, or other unusual noises, or if the panel produces any smoke or strange odors (particularly burning smells), an electrician should be called immediately, and the panel should not be touched.
How To Tell When a Breaker Panel Should Be Replaced
The breaker panel issues listed above may be resolved by repairs alone, but the damage done is often extensive enough to warrant an all-out replacement. Conversely, the above issues may even be the direct result of an inadequately-sized or faulty panel. The home’s power needs may outweigh the capabilities of the breaker panel, especially if an extension has been added to the home recently or if the panel is getting old.
Some older homes still employ old-fashioned fuse boxes rather than breaker panels. These are largely obsolete and should be replaced, as they do not support important modern safety implements like GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) breakers. Upgrading to a safer, more capable panel will help ensure a stress-free (or at least less stressful), well-lit, and safe holiday season.
About Electrical Connections LLC
Since 2003, Electrical Connections LLC has been proudly handling the electrical service needs of homeowners. As a family-owned and operated local business, they are dedicated to safety, honesty, and supporting their community. Contact them for breaker panel repair and replacement in Gaithersburg, MD today!