At Edison Electric, one of the most requested services we are contacted for is an electrical service upgrade. Living in North Central West Virginia, there are a number of existing homes that could benefit from having an electrical service upgrade, but often, we do not consider the upgrade until there is a problem. And while this is understandable, our job is to help educate our customers on the potential hazards, and benefits, of upgrading your electrical service panel sooner than later.
First, it helps to have a quick idea of how your electrical service works. Your electricity flows into your home directly through your breaker box. From there, it gets dispersed throughout your home by the various, assigned circuits. Each of these circuits having their own limit on how much electricity can flow at a given time. When you exceed a limit, you will trip one of these circuits, as a precaution for exceeding the amount of electricity assigned.
Signs You May Need a Service Upgrade
At Edison Electric, we wanted to help outline a few signs that you may need an electrical service upgrade for your home. These signs may indicate that there is a potential problem with your home electrical system, so if have some of these issues, we strongly suggest contacting a licensed electrician as your next course of action.
Burning Smell or Discolored Outlets
If you can sense or smell as if something is burning, you should not ignore it! You need to search your home until you find the source. Ignoring it may lead to something catching on fire, or even leading to a full house. That burning smell could actually be caused by extra heat from too much current flowing through your electrical wires. Another sign that this may be happening is that your outlet may turn a darker shade or even brown.
If the burning smell is coming from your breaker box, your entire system could be overloaded, or one particular circuit could be overloaded. Another potential issue is that one of the connections in your box is loose, which would then cause additional heat.
One of the most visible signs our team at Edison Electric experiences are flickering lights when one of your appliances turns on. This is a good indication that you may need a service upgrade. An example you may experience is when turning on a hairdryer or your vacuum cleaner, and your house lights flicker. Especially if the lights flickering are on a different circuit, it may be time to look at a service upgrade.
You Keep Tripping Your Breaker
If you find yourself continuously tripping a breaker every time you turn on an appliance, this is an indication that the circuit is overloaded and that it is time for an electrical service upgrade.
Please note – we have experienced where some have tried to tape or secure a breaker open and cannot stress enough about NOT DOING THIS. Your breakers are there to prevent too much current from flowing through a circuit. By not allowing the circuit to do its job, you drastically increase the potential for an electrical fire.
At Edison Electric, we try to educate our clients on the potential hazards with the overuse of extension cords. When you use extension cords as a way to increase the number of outlets available, you may need to look at an upgrade. While It is possible to run additional outlets without overloading a circuit, you do not want to overload that circuit.
Depending on your existing service panel, you can look at adding additional circuits, which is part of upgrading your electrical service. This would allow you to add additional electrical receptacles without overloading the circuits.
If Your Current Electrical System Is Old
If your electrical system is old, that is a good indicator 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. What this means is that your current electrical system may not be able to run the number of modern appliances you are accustomed.
Accessibility & Obstacles in Accessing Your Panel
Two of the biggest challenges we face when addressing and quoting your electrical service upgrade is the accessibility of your panel, as well as any obstacles that may be in the way. With the accessibility, we determine how easily we can get to your panel, as well as the ability to work on it. The same goes for the conduit we need to access.
In regard to obstacles, we have experienced things from additional walls or barriers accidentally built in front of the panel, or anything that prevents easy and convenient access to service the panel.
Next Steps to Upgrade Your Electrical System
If you are considering an electrical service upgrade, we strongly recommend contacting a licensed electrican, especially when dealing with the main electrical supply of your home. While we appreciate our DIY clients and homeowners, attempting to fix a problem on your own could worsen your i