6 Signs of Overloading on Your Electric Breaker Panel

man screwing wire into circuit breaker
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Every year scores of people are injured in and around their homes by unsafe conditions that result from a faulty electric breaker panel. Unsafe circumstances, such as overloaded circuits and worn or damaged insulation are often the main causes of fires and electrocutions.

The truth is, it doesn’t take long to find potential safety hazards where you live or work. It’s often the simple things overlooked, such as checking an electrical cord for fraying or moving an electrical appliance to a safe distance away from water. Safety can prevent accidents and save lives. Be on the lookout for these signs.

1. Power Outages

Fuses and breakers need replacing and frequent resetting. Fuses that blow or trip too often are a sign of electrical overload. Storms, lightning, floods, earthquakes and heavy winds can all be a source.

2. Overrate Electric Panel

Branch circuits determine the current and safe operating amperage capacity. Electrical panels can often contain fuses or circuit breakers rated at currents higher than the existing capacity calls for. Impending trouble can be just around the corner if a power surge occurs.

3. Sparks

breaker panels

Bright light flashes or sparks are a sure sign of lurking danger in any electrical system. Turn off the electrical power and closely examine the electrical breaker for burn smells or indications of smoke. Be on the safe side if nothing is found. Consult with an electrician.

4. Overheating

It’s not abnormal for such things as switch plates, wall outlet covers, cords or even plugs to be warm. However, they should never be painful to the touch. Overheating from the electric breaker panel can be a sure sign of overload and is an unsafe condition requiring immediate attention.

5. Buzzing Sounds

Buzzing sounds originating from the electric breaker panel is an audible warning there may be an overload or parts that are worn and in need of replacement. If the buzzing stops, there’s still cause for a more in-depth inspection. The buzzing sound could be the result of a mechanical vibration or the contacts arcing. It might also be possible that the sound is coming from the bimetallic strip that trips the breaker.

6. Frayed or Damaged Insulation

working on a circuit box

Any insulation wiring material that is cut, damaged, or cracked is a possible sign of age or an electrical current overload. As soon as you discover this condition, don’t hesitate to have the wiring replaced.

There doesn’t have to be a set time to inspect the electrical system of your home or business. However, if your home or business logs its last inspection more than 40 or more years ago, an inspection is long overdue. If there are large electrical loads being applied such as high-wattage appliances, look closely for any of the warning signs described above.

Not everyone will live in an area served by local or state electrical inspectors. As a result, your electric breaker panel may not have a record of having been inspected. That being the case, you can reason your electrical systems and electric breaker panel are long overdue for that inspection.