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How Long Should a Breaker Box Last? (When To Upgrade a Breaker Box)

how long does breaker panel last

Most homeowners give no thought to their breaker box until something goes wrong with it. They assume the breaker box will last forever and that they never have to do anything with it. It is important to know how old your breaker is and what the signs are that it is time to replace this electrical component before something goes wrong in your home. 

Most breaker boxes will last between twenty to thirty years as long as they are taken care of well and maintained. If you notice that there is something wrong with the breaker box before that time frame, it is important to call in a professional electrician to take a look and get it fixed right away. 

Let’s take a look at how long your breaker box is meant to last and some of the signs that you should look for that show it is time to get it replaced. 


How Long Does a Breaker Box Last?

Most breaker boxes can last somewhere between 20 to 30 years as long as they are taken care of. It is possible that you will need to replace the electrical service panels if you have lived in your home for more than 20 years or if you moved into a home that is not brand new. 

If you start to notice there are some issues with the electrical panel or something is not working right with the whole unit, it is a good sign that it is time to change out the breaker box. For example, if you start to see things like burn marks, hear any crackling or buzzing, or you smell some plastic that is inside or around the breaker box, it is time to get everything checked out right away. A qualified electrician is the best bet to look everything out and replace it if necessary. 

It is important to check your panel box often. Most homeowners forget to do this and may only check if they have some type of electrical problem. However, it is possible that the old panels can start to cause fires from too much electrical current or frequent fuses getting blown. 

When Should I Replace My Breaker Box?

There are several signs that you should replace the breaker box. If you know it has been twenty to thirty years since your breaker box was put in place, you should consider calling in a professional electrician and doing an inspection. They can let you know how the breaker box doing and tell you if it is time to replace the whole thing or not. 

However, there is a possibility that you moved into the home and have no idea how old the breaker box is. This can make it difficult to know whether you should replace the electrical system or not. Older breaker boxes are not able to handle all of the electronics that you have, along with the major appliances in your home, and this can cause some damage to the home. Some of the signs to watch for when it is time to upgrade your breaker box includes:

  • You find that the breakers are tripping often. 
  • Your service is older and relies on 60 amps. 
  • You find that you need to unplug one appliance so that you can then use another one. 
  • You look through the breaker box and notice that it is basically just a mass of wires. 
  • You have plans to remodel your home. 

It is best not to work on the electrical panel on your own. Instead, it is better to hire a professional electrician to help you with this. Without the proper knowledge of how to rewire and replace the breaker box, you risk a fire, electrocution, and other issues. Always have a professional do the work. 

Signs the Breaker Box is Getting Old

Most homeowners start to notice there is something wrong with their breaker box long before it completely burns out or needs replaced. Some of the warning signs that your breaker box needs replaced include:

The breakers start to trip more often. While a circuit breaker tripping often can indicate many electrical problems, including bad circuitry and power surges, it can also be a warning that your panel is wearing down and not working the way that it should. If you notice that it is tripping often and you are not able to see other issues with your electricity, then it is time to call an electrician. 

Another problem is that the circuit breakers will not remain reset. This is a specific warning that something is going wrong with the breaker box. If you reset the breaker when it gets tripped, but it will not remain that way very long, this is a sign that the panel is faulty and needs someone to take a look at it. 

If you notice that there is a burning smell that comes out of the panel, this is a bad sign as well. A major danger that can come from a circuit breaker that has gone bad is that it can cause fires inside the panel.. if you start to notice that there is a bad smell from the panel or some sign of burning, such as breakers that seem hot or charring that shows around the breakers, then it is time to call for help right away. 

When you notice any of these signs around your breaker box, then you need to call in a licensed electrician to handle the outlets, switches, and circuits on the electrical system. Too many homeowners try to do the work themselves, but this is dangerous and can cause too many problems. Let a professional handle the work and replace the breaker box for you. 

What Happens If My Breaker Box Gets Too Old?

You risk some danger to your home if you do not replace the breaker box in a timely manner. It is easy to forget to have this part replaced. We assume that it will last forever and there will never be any problems with it. Sure, it may trip more often than we would like, but we do not think it is such a big problem or something that we need to deal with right away. 

However, waiting too long to replace an old breaker box can be a problem. When the electric box is not working well, you will end up with a lot of electricity shorting and not going to the right location. It is possible that you could get shocked or electrocuted when touching the breaker box to fix it. There is also the potential that the breaker box will start an electrical fire that can cause even more damage to your home. 

It is important to keep your breaker box up to date. If you are uncertain about how old the breaker box is, or you know it is getting older because it exhibits some of the signs above, then it is time to consider replacing it. A professional electrician is able to provide you with the assistance that you need and can help you replace the breaker box if that is necessary. 

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