Even though National Electrical Safety Month is in May, we can learn year round how to apply electrical safety tips. Here, we’ve presented a few ideas that can keep you and your family safe. Here, we discuss one of the most important electrical components in your home: the circuit breaker panel.
Home Electrical Safety and You
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, there are an estimated 51,000 home electrical fires each year. These home fires result in hundreds of deaths and millions in property damage. Approximately 400 people suffer electrical shock in their homes each year. Outdated electrical devices, faulty extension cords, and defective electrical outlets are common home electrical hazards.
The electrical service panel is your home’s central electric distribution point. It catches the electricity flowing into your home from power lines or through a connection that’s buried underground. From the service panel, electricity is distributed to the electrical outlets and switches throughout your home.
Think of the service panel as the “brain” of your home’s electrical system. Much like your brain, your home’s service panel must be maintained. Proper maintenance is important for efficient electricity use as well as for home safety.
A properly functioning service panel can alert you to issues in other parts of your home’s electrical system. For example, if there are faulty electrical cords in use in your home they can cause a short circuit. The circuit breakers inside your home’s panel will detect this and break the circuit connection. Breaking the connection can prevent serious damage to your home.
There are basic steps you can take to ensure your home’s service panel is properly maintained. Keeping your service panel’s lid closed is always recommended. Keeping the lid closed can help prevent damage to the electrical components inside your panel.
A visual inspection of your home’s service panel can help homeowners identify potential problems. If you notice problems with your service panel please contact your electrician immediately! Issues to look for include:
- Circuit breakers that feel warm. A circuit breaker that feels hot to the touch can be a sign that the breaker could be failing.
- Signs of moisture or rust inside the panel. Water leaking into the service panel can cause a ground fault. If you detect moisture in your service panel, contact your electrician immediately.
- Burned spots in the service panel or smelling something sizzling or burning. This can be a sign that your home’s panel could be outdated. An outdated panel may be unable to carry the amount of electricity flowing through it, which is a potential fire hazard!
- Missing covers and exposed openings. Panels without covers are an electrical shock hazard. It’s important that you make sure your service panel is properly secured at all times.
- Overloaded and double-tapped breakers. “Double tapping” a breaker occurs when two conductors are connected to a single circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker is not designed to hold two wires, double tapping can result in overheating or arcing.
- Dirt or debris inside the service panel. Debris inside of your service panel can create a fire hazard.
We can’t emphasize enough that you should call your electrician if you notice problems with your service panel.
When To Call an Electrician
It’s recommended that a licensed electrician service your home’s electrical service panel every 2 to 3 years. If your home has a panel that is 20 years old or older you should have it replaced. Outdated panels may contain circuit breakers that cannot handle the amperage of modern appliances. Flickering lights or tripped circuits could be signals that your service panel needs to be inspected by an electrician.
Only Hire Licensed, Professional Electricians
Avoid hiring unlicensed “Jack of all trades” handymen to tackle electrical work! Work that requires trade skills like your home’s water and electricity is too important to trust to an amateur. The stakes are high when dealing with your home’s electrical system, don’t trust someone who cuts corners or takes shortcuts.
Hire an electrician who is licensed in your state. Electricians in Oklahoma are licensed through the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. Electricians in Arkansas are required to be licensed through the Arkansas State Board of Electrical Examiners.
(Click here to find electrician licensing and certification requirements for your state.)
Your home’s electrical system is vitally important. Your family’s comfort, as well as their safety, depends on hiring an experienced electrician who can do the job right.
At Copeland Electric, customer satisfaction is our number one priority. We are here to serve you whether you need residential electrical work or electrical contractors for a commercial job. Our team will work with you to make sure the job is done right and done right the first time. We service communities throughout western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
Call us today at 918-413-1937
Written by Lance Montgomery
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