What You Should Know About Electrical Service Panels

Electrician in Kirkland, WA

It’s hard to imagine a modern Kirkland home without electricity. Electricity plays such an essential role in today’s world that it can be easy to take for granted the complex systems required to deliver electricity to your various electronic devices. One of the most critical components of residential electrical systems is the electrical service panel.

Electrical service panels play multiple roles, including distributing electricity and helping to protect you and your family members from electrocution. Since electrical panels are so vital, it’s a good idea for you to know some basics about these devices to know when you need to call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning for assistance.

Introduction to Electrical Service Panels

Electrical service panels help ensure that electricity can travel safely and efficiently from the overhead or underground utility line that services your home to the various electrical circuits in your home. Electrical panels come in assorted sizes and ratings for different applications. In most locales, homeowners are the party responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the electrical panels. Fortunately, a professionally installed and maintained electrical panel will require extraordinarily little ongoing attention.

Explaining the Roles of Electrical Service Panels

Several types of electrical service panels play distinct roles in the electrical circuits in your home. The main electrical service panel controls the flow of electricity from the utility company’s electrical distribution line that connects to your home. If your home has a separate main electrical service panel, you can interrupt the flow of electricity to your entire home just by turning off this single switch.

The most common type of electrical service panel is called a distribution panel. These panels contain circuit breakers for all the branch circuits that deliver electricity to various switches, outlets, and appliances in your home. In larger homes, there might also be sub-panels that help control the flow of electricity to a particular portion of the home with multiple electronic devices.

Types of Electrical Distribution Panels

As a homeowner, the type of electrical service panel that you’ll interact with is the electrical distribution panel. There are two types of electrical distribution panels that you may find in residential applications. One type of distribution panel is called a fuse box. Although electricians no longer install fuse boxes in new renovation or construction applications, they are still common in older homes. These panels have a fuse for each branch circuit. If the panel detects a circuit overload, a wire in the fuse will break to stop the flow of electricity. When this occurs, call a professional to replace the fuse with a new fuse that has an intact wire.

The other type of distribution panel is called a circuit breaker. A circuit breaker panel has multiple breakers with switches that control the flow of electricity. During an overload, the irregular electrical current in the circuit will trip the breaker and interrupt the flow of electricity. However, if the problem that tripped the breaker is not fixed before the breaker is reset, it will only trip again.

Locations of Electrical Service Panels

It’s important to know the location of all the electrical service panels in your home. If there is a problem with one or more of the electrical circuits in your home, knowing the location of these panels can help you react quickly before calling Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning.

In some homes, you’ll find the electrical panel outside. To find the panel, look for where the utility company’s service line meets your home. The electrical panel will typically be located nearby. You’ll find the electrical panel inside most homes, especially in newer homes. While sub-panels can be found on about any wall, you’ll usually find the main service panel and primary distribution panel on an exterior wall. When you locate your home’s electrical service panels, label them so that you know which switches control which circuits.

Understanding Tripped Breakers

As a homeowner, the only time you’ll usually need to interact with your home’s electrical panels is when a breaker trips —breakers trip due to circuit overloads that can occur for several reasons. Electrical surges, excess power usage, overheating electrical wires, and sudden electrical discharges are common causes of circuit overload. When a breaker trips, the switch is placed into a neutral position. You’ll need to go to the electrical service panel and return the switch on the breaker to the “off” position and then back to the “on” position. This should restore power to the circuit. If the breaker trips again immediately after you reset it, it’s important to call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning to identify what’s causing the circuit to continue to overload.

Maintaining an Electrical Service Panel

Beyond a quick dusting of the outer case with a dry cloth, there’s not much maintenance that you need to or should do on your electrical service panel. All interior components in an electrical service panel must be maintained and repaired by a licensed electrician. Therefore, to take diligent care of your electrical panel, it’s best to schedule an annual inspection with Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning.

During the inspection, an electrician will check all the wires in the electrical panels in your home to ensure they aren’t frayed, discolored, or improperly crimped. They will also check to ensure that all the electrical connections are tight and that all the circuit breakers are in good condition. Annual inspections are vital to ensure that your electrical panel can continue to perform its safety role effectively.

When You Should Be Concerned About Your Electrical Service Panel

While you may not be an electrician, you still serve as the first line of defense in assessing the condition of the electrical service panels in your home. Every so often, it’s an excellent idea to look carefully at your electrical service panels to see if you notice any changes. If you notice any new or unusual smells coming from your electrical panels, it’s a good idea to call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning for assistance. Likewise, if you notice any discoloration on the panels or any sizzling or crackling sounds coming from inside any of the panels, you’ll need to contact an electrician as soon as possible.

Finally, if one or more circuits trip repeatedly without explanation, seek professional assistance instead of continuing to reset the breakers. Issues with your electrical service panels can cause electrocution, fires, and other hazards, so it’s important to take these issues seriously.

Your Dedicated Electrical Experts

The dedicated professionals at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning take pride in providing quality home comfort solutions to individuals throughout the region. We do this by installing generators and EV chargers, repairing and maintaining electrical service panels, and installing wiring for hot tubs. Beyond our electrical services, we also install air conditioners, repair furnaces, install and repair water heaters, clean ducts, and much more.

Our history of excellent service goes back over 20 years. For our entire history, we have been working hard to deliver outstanding results to every customer. That’s a big reason why we consistently receive five-star reviews. To learn more about your home’s electrical system, contact us at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning today.