Let’s say you have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to fix a breaker panel. Is it safe, wise, or even legal for you to attempt the job yourself? The short answer is that repairing or replacing a breaker panel should be done by a professional—for your safety and to keep things up to code.
The only people who should unscrew a panel cover to look at the wiring are electricians, home inspectors, firefighters, and other licensed pros who know what they’re doing.
What you can do:
- Visually inspect the breaker panel from the outside
- Feel the panel for overheating
- Flip a tripped breaker back on (only once; if it trips again, call an electrician)
Yes, you can find instructions online for tasks such as replacing a circuit breaker. However, most people don’t have the tools or knowledge for the job. They put themselves at risk and they get in over their heads as soon as something doesn’t look exactly like it does in the video or instructions.
Signs of Danger at the Breaker Panel
Step away from your electrical panel if you notice signs of danger such as:
- Rust or water damage on the panel
- Water on the ground nearby
- Burning smells or chemical odors
- Hot to the touch breaker or panel cover
- Scorch marks or signs of overheating
- Visible bare wire
- Any haphazard or amateur wiring
Concerned about an active problem? Avoid using whatever appliances have been flickering, losing power, or tripping the breaker. Schedule an electrical inspection at the earliest convenience.
Can Circuit Breakers Be Repaired?
Individual breakers need to be replaced if broken. Don’t remove the panel cover to access the breaker. This requires more than just shutting off the main breaker. You’d need to be using full protective gear, standing on a rubber mat, and using insulated electrical tools.
The other concern is that a broken breaker might be connected to damaged wiring that has overheated or sparked. Arcing at the breaker panel can produce a lethal fire if the cover is removed improperly or something goes wrong. An electrician should inspect for wiring damage and make electrical repairs as needed.
What If My Electrical Panel Is Full?
If you’re interested in upgrading a breaker panel for more power, you have several options:
- Replace single-pole breakers with tandem breakers
- Add circuits if there are empty slots on the panel
- Install a subpanel for a swimming pool, guesthouse, garage, finished basement, etc.
- Conduct a service upgrade for more power from the utility
Talk to an electrician about these options. More circuits let you use your appliances with less fear of overloading and tripped breakers, but you won’t have more total power available without a service upgrade.
Any alterations to the panel should be made by a licensed electrician. To schedule a safety inspection or get an estimate for breaker panel replacement and electrical repairs, contact your Santa Rosa electrician and save yourself the risk.