Is it Time to Consider an Electrical Service Upgrade?
We all depend on the electrical service provided to our homes and businesses. To be honest, most of us do not give it much thought until there is a problem. Then we begin wondering what in the world is going on, and how we are going to go about fixing it.
Unless you have experienced some form of short or other electrical problems, your system should last about 20 years or longer. However, the draw on your system may require an upgrade. Let’s dig into this and find out what you should expect and possibly plan for in the future.
Understanding Your Electrical Service
Your service is rated by amperage. This is how much electricity can flow into your home at one time, and goes directly to your breaker box. From there, your home is broken up into various circuits, each with its own limits on how much electricity can flow at a given time.
The normal service to a residential building is dependent on when the building was constructed or last upgraded. In modern homes, you usually find 200 amp service, though it could be 150-amp as well. If your system is over 30 years old, then you may have 60 or 100-amp service.
Signs You May Need a Service Upgrade
There are some sure signs you may need to upgrade your service to properly supply your home. These can also be signs of other problems, so work with a licensed electrician to help determine the best course of action.
Burning Smell or Discolored Outlets
If you have a burning smell, do not ignore it, hunt until you find the source. Ignoring it may lead to a full house fire and possible injury. The burning smell could be caused by extra heat from too much current flowing through wires. This extra heat can also cause your outlet to turn a darker shade or even brown.
The burning smell coming from your breaker box is indicative of generally two possible problems. First is that either your entire system is overloaded or one particular circuit is overloaded. The second is that one of the connections in your box is loose, causing additional heat.
One of the most noticeable signs you may need a service upgrade are flickering lights when one of your appliances turns on. For instance, you may notice this when your refrigerator, air conditioner, or washer turns on. More commonly, you may also notice it when turning on a hairdryer or your vacuum cleaner. If lights on a different circuit are flickering, you may want to look at an upgrade.
Another sign that you may need to look at an upgrade is an overuse of extension cords. When you use these to try to increase the number of outlets available, you may need to look at an upgrade. It is possible to run additional outlets without overloading a circuit, but you want to check this with a licensed electrician.
In some cases, you may want to look at adding circuits, which is part of upgrading your electrical service. This allows you to add more electrical outlets while also not overloading the circuits.
Your Breakers Keep Tripping
Do you find yourself running to your breaker box every time you turn on a high draw appliance? If so, this is an indication that the circuit is overloaded and you may need an upgrade.
Some people think they can use tape or some other method to hold the breaker open. We cannot caution strongly enough against such a practice. Breakers are part of the system to prevent too much current from flowing through a circuit. When the current exceeds what the wiring can handle, it will heat up to a point that can cause a fire.
The Age of Your System
The age of your electrical system is a key indicator of whether you should consider an upgrade. If your electrical system was installed or last upgraded more than 30 years ago, you are likely not running a 200 amp service. At a lower grade service, you may not be able to run the number of modern appliances you may otherwise want.
How To Upgrade Your Electrical Service
Upgrading your system, or even one circuit in your home, is something you want to leave to a professional. For these kinds of upgrades, you will need to pull a building permit and will need an inspection before you are done.
If you are upgrading your entire service, this will require coordinating with your local utility provider as well. They will cut the power outside your building so you can safely work on your breaker box without incident. Foregoing this step can lead to major personal injury with even the slip of a hand.
If you are upgrading a particular circuit in your home, be sure you upgrade the wiring, not just the breaker. These should be coordinated to the same rating to ensure you are properly protected.
Your Next Move
You should always contact a licensed electrician whenever you consider upgrading or repairing anything electrical. Electricity is nothing to play with, and attempting to fix a problem on your own could worsen your issue or create a bigger problem than you know how to fix. When it comes to installing dedicated circuits, you want to make sure the process goes smoothly and causes no issues.
At D.O.C. Electric Inc., we have the know-how to assist you. We’ll send out a professional electrician to help you figure out which appliances deserve dedicated circuits so that you can configure the electricity of your home more efficiently and logically. To get in contact with an electrician today, contact us, and we’ll help you get your circuits sorted out.