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Is it time to Upgrade your Outdated Electrical Panel?

When it comes time to inspect your home’s Electrical Panel, there are 5 main things I will look at to determine whether it’s time for you to upgrade:

  1. Is the panel the right size for your home’s electrical needs?

    A lot of people don’t even realize that the panels installed in homes built in the 60’s or earlier are only equipped to handle an electrical pull that’s now needed in our kitchen alone.

    A panel that’s too small to handle your homes electrical service, can be very dangerous - most homes require a 200 Amp main electrical service at the least!

    The appliances we now use require increasingly more power and your electrical panel must be able to keep up.

  2. Is the panel made by FPE (Federal Pacific Electric)?

    From the 50’s to the 80’s, FPE was one of the most common manufacturers of electrical panels in North America. Millions were installed, yet as the years went by, electricians and home inspectors found that FPE failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families.

    A class action lawsuit was filed and found that these panels failed to trip at a much higher rate than standard panels.

    The design flaw, manufacturing defects, and faulty wiring pose serious danger and there’s no question that FPE panels need to be replaced.

    FPE is not a risk that I would take with my home or family.

  3. Is the panel a fuse-box panel?

    Fuse boxes were the precursor to the panel box. In the instances of overcurrent or short circuit, a fuse would pop and need to be replaced. This is where trouble usually started. Often people would try shortcuts or work-arounds not realizing the very real danger.

    For example, commonly people would replace a 15 amp fuse with a 20 or 30 amp fuse creating a massive fire hazard – the wires couldn’t handle that much heat!

    With pricey, upgraded appliances in a classic older home, I would advise your family it’s better to stay safe than sorry and upgrade to at least a standard panel box.

  4. Is the panel a split-bus panel?

    Split bus panels do not have a main breaker. Instead, they have a similar breaker feeding the bottom half of the panel. Due to the overload of the demand placed on them, these smaller breakers have been known to melt or burn.

    These panels should always be looked at individually often there are instances where lighting and receptacle circuits are installed on the top portion of the panel where they are not allowed.

    I or one of my qualified electricians would need to look at this panel and let you know if this type of a panel is a problem for your situation.

  5. Is the panel made by Zinsco?

    Like the FPE panels (mentioned above), Zinsco panels are highly susceptible to malfunction.

    Experts report that Zinsco panels have two major issues that pose a danger:

    • First, Zinsco panels are not up to today’s codes.
      Zinsco halted production of their panels in the mid 1970’s. Today, they would not be allowed to be sold, because they no longer pass safety inspections.

    • Secondly, Zinsco panels are full of major design flaws.
      Certain components of Zinsco panels contain aluminum; the connection between the breakers and the bus bars are not solid; the bus bars easily corrode; and breakers may appear to be off, yet the panel is still conducting power internally.

 
Again, while this type of breaker may have worked up to a point, I would consider it a “ticking time bomb” of sorts and recommend an upgrade for your family’s safety.

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About John's Electric

Linn Park Fountain, Birmingham, AL

John's Electric Inc. is a family owned and operated electrical contractor business that proudly provides electrician services in Birmingham, AL and the surrounding areas such as Hoover, Homewood, Chelsea, Vestavia Hills, Pelham, Alabaster, Trussville, and Mountain Brook. John's Electric provides residential and commercial electrical solutions at competitive rates. We have been in this line of work for 30 years, giving us not only experience but expertise as well. You can depend on us. We are a state licensed electrician (#03875) for your protection.

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What others say about John's Electric Service

John’s Electric save’s the day.

I called for help and Aubrey came to my home when it was convenient for me. He was on time and very professional. All issues I needed to be fixed were. I am very happy with the service and the prices. I will use Aubrey again and I would recommend him to my family. Thanks so much. mvb

Venus B.

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They always are so polite and come whenever I need them to - working around my schedule. A family business that cares about the little man! Great prices and excellent service! Have used them several times and will continue too!

Barb Conner

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Aubrey upgraded our electrical fuse panel, put in an updated outside service panel, replaced the main service line from the outside panel to the inside fuse box, and installed several outlets. His original estimate was complete and accurate. He brought our electrical system up to code and made several recommendations for changes and upgrades that we had not thought of. He worked with our schedule, was on time and very professional, and left our home as clean as when he arrived. He was extremely conscientious and reliable. We very highly recommend John's Electric and will definitely use them again.

Debbie S. Dumas

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My Mother recently came to live with me, and I needed a fan installed in her west-facing room, to keep it cool in the guest room. I had to wait a little bit, but it was worth it. The price was reasonable, I could tell he was conscientious and he made an extra effort to do as much as he could while he was here - including going down through a difficult attic to install, so the wires would not show. Highly recommend. He came with his grandson and they worked a few hours. Hoping to get him back soon for some more work. Thank you, John!

dpiroch

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