Electrical Panels, Meter Services & Disconnects
The electrical service of a structure is the foundation and backbone of a complex electrical system. It is crucial that this foundation be maintained well and be repaired or replaced when necessary to provide a safe, efficient and trouble-free life.
An upgrade of an electrical service typically involves services that are either older, obsolete or damaged due to fire, flood, storm or some other uncontrollable event.
Typically it is fairly simple to decide if you need to consult with an electrician if you can answer yes to any of the following:
Does you service panel operate from fuse protection?
Typically fuse panels have had additional circuits added to them over the course of their lifetime. This generally causes circuits to be overloaded and leads to the circuit and the panel to overheat. Over the course of time, the integrity of the wiring, fuse and other panel components will break down. Eventually if left unattended, the possibility of fire may result. It is also important to note that many insurance companies have decided against providing insurance to homeowners who have a fuse panel in their residence.
Is the main capacity (main breaker or main fuse) listed at 60 amps or less (or 100 amps or less if heated with electricity?
Prior to around 1970, a typical residential home was wired for an electrical load of no greater than 60 amps. Many homes built prior to WWII may even have a maximum capacity of 30 amps. While it is somewhat unusual to see a 30 amp service in residential (although we as a contractor replaced one as recently as 2010 in a city with a population of over 60,000), 60 amp services are still extremely common throughout the United States. The problem with services such as these (and in some cases even 100 amp services), is that electrical loads have increased significantly since the 1960s. Most residential homes have air conditioning, along with provisions for electric ranges, cook-tops, clothes washers, dryers and in many cases electric heat pumps or baseboard heating. It is crucial for any electrical panel or service to have the available space and current capacity to handle all the loads in which a building may place upon it. If yours falls into any of the above categories, it is time to have it checked by a qualified and experienced professional.
Has any part of your electrical panel or service been damaged in any way (storm, flood, fire, accident, etc.)?
Even if physical damage appears to be superficial or cosmetic, there very well may be resulting underlying damage that cannot be seen and which could pose an operational, safety or fire potential. Electrical services and panels contain a large number of metal parts which have been manufactured to operate under specific tolerances and conditions. If any part of these conditions are altered, the functional ability to perform safely may be compromised. Although many panels and services can operate for an infinite amount of time with superficial damage, it is best to have the integrity of the panel or service inspected by a qualifed electrical contractor. The cost of a visit from an electrician is miniscule compared with that of an injury or loss of life or property.
Are you making major changes to your electrical load, such as building an addition, finishing unfinished areas such as basements and attics or replacing a gas appliance with an electric unit (i.e., furnace, water heater, range, etc.)?
Sometimes even what may seem like a minor change to a structure, may actually cause significant changes to how the electrical system in a building functions. Although a change to the structure may not cause an issue with your electrical panel and service, it is always recommended to have a qualified electrician review your planned changes prior to proceeding with them. Having your plans reviewed in advance could save you financially in the long run.
Contact A & K Services of Iowa today and let us help you find the best balance of electrical performance and affordability!