Outdated Electrical Panels May Leave Homes Open to Troubles

Today’s society depends more than ever on electricity. Everything seems to be electronic. It’s extremely prevalent in homes now. Most people have at least one computer, several televisions, a stereo system, cell phones, and the list continues. All of these devices require electricity to function.

More than half of the homes today were constructed before the 1970s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means more than half were built decades before many of these modern, electronic conveniences were even invented. Most of these older homes possessed no more than 60-amp electrical service. Today, homes should have at least 150 amps.

These facts point to a problem—older homes, unless their electrical system has been upgraded, are being overburdened. These outdated electric systems and panels cannot safely handle the demands of today’s society.

Older Panels Can’t Handle Current Society’s Electrical Demands

Older homes with outdated electrical panels can’t handle the electrical needs of today’s society. In the past, 60-amp service was considered more than enough. Today, people’s power requirements are much greater.

Among a variety of older panels, there are two distinct types that electricians will recommend upgrading the most. They offer unique problems for homes. These two types of panels are fuse boxes and split-bus panels.

  • Fuse boxes were the precursor to the panel box. If an overcurrent or short circuit occurred, a fuse would pop and have to be replaced. This is where problems regularly occur. When replacing the blown fuse, especially if it routinely happened, people would replace a 15-amp fuse with a 20- or 30-amp fuse which creates a massive fire hazard since the wires are not able to handle that much electricity and heat!  Or people would insert a coin, usually a penny, where the blown fuse once was. That possibly presents an even larger fire hazard because that fuse can never pop, no matter how much electricity surges through it, which leaves the home open to the potential for a fire risk.
  • Split-bus panels present unique challenges as well. Namely, these panels do not have a main breaker; instead, they have a smaller breaker feeding the bottom half of the panel. These smaller breakers have been known to melt or burn due to the excessive demand placed on them. Today, split-bus panels probably would not be UL listed and would not be considered a safe option.

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