Your electrical panel is an essential part of your home’s access to electricity.
Without it, your wires would get a constant stream of energy that would cause them to overheat and eventually cause a fire.
In fact, more than 50,000 home electrical fires happen every year that result in over $1 billion in residential property damage.
You don’t want to end up being another statistic.
To avoid that from happening, you need to know how to do electrical panel repair and maintenance before a disaster happens.
Here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Safety First
Before you go diving into your electrical box or service panel, you’ll need to know the rules.
These are some of the same safety precautions electricians take on the job.
First of all, have a way out in case something goes wrong.
If your electrical box starts to smoke or catches on fire, you’ll need to evacuate the building.
Pick up some electrical safety equipment before you even touch the box.
Wear eye protection and protective clothing to avoid getting burned by sparks.
Protective gloves and grounding straps will help you avoid electrocution.
Of course, those are worst-case scenarios.
Some general safety tips for preventing fires at home include replacing damaged power cords, avoiding extension cords, and not overloading your outlets.
2. Pay Attention to the Signs
There are some specific signs that you need to call someone for an electrical panel repair job.
Your circuit breaker may be failing multiple times despite resetting them.
Wires in your breaker panel could have melted, or you might smell something burning.
If your lights are flickering or dimming sporadically, that also points towards an issue with the breaker panel.
One major concern would be if you’ve just moved into an older home.
The circuit breaker could be old and in desperate need of an inspection.
New appliances use a lot more energy than they did years ago, so you need to keep everything up to date.
3. Reset the Breaker
Assuming your home has lost power, you’ll want to check the circuit breaker.
Circuit breakers purposely interrupt power to a circuit if there’s a power surge, such as during a storm.
They do this to avoid damage to your appliances and prevent fires from starting.
Before you do anything, make sure everything is unplugged in an area that has lost power.
Open the electrical panel and check the index so you know which breaker goes to each area of the house.
Flick the appropriate switch off and back on to reset it.
If all is good, power should be returned to the corresponding area.
If not, then you’ll have to figure out why your circuit breaker isn’t working.
4. Troubleshoot the Circuit
There’s a chance that your breaker isn’t returning power to your home because of what caused it to surge in the first place.
Too many things plugged into your walls, for example, can cause a power surge.
If they’re still plugged in, your circuit breaker will continue to cut off the electricity.
The problem could also be from a damaged cord or plug.
You can check for both of these things by testing individual appliances and outlets one at a time.
Unplug and turn everything off, and reset the breaker.
Turn the switch on and plug one thing in.
If it works and doesn’t throw the breaker, then you know it’s not the problem.
Rinse and repeat until you hopefully find the device or outlet causing the power to shut off.
5. Check the Circuit Breaker
Your worst-case scenario is that the circuit breaker is malfunctioning.
Unfortunately, you can’t really repair it once it’s broken.
Some signs that your circuit breaker needs to be replaced are if it feels hot to the touch or looks scorched.
However, the signs won’t always be obvious. In some cases, you’ll have to use a multimeter voltage tester to check if the breaker is letting a current run through it.
Before you use the tester, turn off everything powered by the circuit and remove the metal frame.
Set the tester to AC voltage and place the red prong onto the breaker’s “hot” terminal screw.
The black prong goes on the neutral bar.
The multimeter should read about 120-volts.
If not, then the breaker needs to be replaced.
6. Replace or Upgrade if Needed
Unfortunately, circuit breakers are made to be replaced rather than repaired.
When it breaks down, you’ll want to look into your local OKC electrical services at the very least for suggestions on what to do next.
OKC electrical contractors can replace your circuit breaker as well as diagnose problem circuits or individual breakers.
They can find older replacement parts to save you money and provide full on-site inspections.
For a DIY electrical panel repair job, you first need to turn off all the branch circuit breakers and then turn off the main breaker.
A voltage tester will let you know when it’s not receiving electricity.
You then disconnect the wire from the bad breaker, pry it out, insert the new breaker, and attach the circuit’s load wire.
Reattach everything and make sure all the breakers are off before turning the main breaker back on.
If you get tripped up at any point, make sure to contact a qualified electrician to diagnose your issue.
7. Get An Inspection
Arguably the most important tip for maintaining your electrical panel is getting routine inspections.
Whether you’ve just moved into a new home, are planning on selling a property, or have noticed some odd electrical glitches, an inspection can find the source of any problems.
An infrared safety inspection can find potential conditions including overloads, loose connections, and defective equipment.
If you can secure an electrical panel repair early enough, you won’t have to worry about your circuit breaker turning into a fire hazard down the line.
Oklahoma City Electrical Panel Repair
Electrical panel repair can be a tricky thing.
An unskilled hand can turn a small issue into a much bigger problem if they’re not careful.
If you’re not one hundred percent sure you can replace a circuit breaker in the Oklahoma City area, your best bet is to contact local OKC electrical contractors.
If you need circuit breaker help or an inspection, reach out to Spartan Electrical Services.
We offer residential and commercial electrical services, including installation and troubleshooting.
Are you looking for a trusted residential electrician in the Greater Oklahoma City area? Contact Spartan Electrical Services, we have 20+ years of experience. Request an estimate for service online today! Or Call (405) 833-5030!