Brief History of your Service Panel
Thirty years ago, the average new home was equipped with a 60 amp electrical service connected to a screw-in fuse panel with two fuse blocks. The common distribution was a fuse block for the stove and one for the hot water tank. The balance of the homes electrical needs were served by six, 15amp screw-in fuses.
Twenty years ago the average new home was equipped with a 100 amp electrical service and some of them used the latest in technology, circuit breakers.
Now the average home is equipped with a 200 amp electrical service with a distribution panel handling up to 40 circuit breakers serving the electrical needs of the home.
Old style distribution panels, those with screw-in fuses are generally considered fire hazards. The contact between the base of the fuse and the buss bar oxidizes or charcoals from poor contact. In order for the current to continue to flow heat is generated. In many areas, insurance companies will not renew homeowner insurance if the home is equipped with an electrical distribution panel that has screw-in fuses.
Electrical Panels & Services
A panel upgrade or “change out” is usually required to alleviate a problem with the existing panel. Sometimes a breaker might overheat to the point that the buss bar in a panel gets burned. The conductors between the meter and panel may become loose and burn out the main lugs, especially common when aluminum conductors were used. Other common reasons to change out an existing panel are due to obsolescence and outdated technology. Split-buss panels, cheap builder-grade panels, panels contaminated by water, paint and corrosive environments are often candidates for replacement. Panels long ago manufactured by Zinsco and FPE have many issues and are considered a hazard by many in the industry. For more information on Zinsco and FPE panels, click here.
Electric panels are the heart of your electrical system. When your electrical panel goes out almost everything shuts down or worse yet a fire.
Electrical panels typically last 20-25 years. Sure signs of a failure in your electrical panel are flickering lights and excess heat at the circuit breakers.
If you see any of those signs call us immediately.
ZINSCO and FEDERAL PACIFIC PANELS
Zinsco, Zinsco-Sylvania and Federal Pacific Panels
Over the years, the professionals at Hi Amp Electric Electric have been striving to be the best educated, most knowledgeable electricians in the state of Washington. We are proud to pass this knowledge on to you, our customer in hopes of educating you to the potential dangers of having a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE), Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania electrical panel installed in your home.
History has shown that these brands of panels have a high failure rate and installed circuit breakers will not trip during an overload condition. Even direct short circuits will not cause some of these breakers to work as designed, often creating a hazardous and potentially deadly situation in their homes. These panels also have a high rate of failure to the internal bussing which provides the connection from the utility company to the individual circuit breakers.
If you have one of these panels in your home, please do not attempt to remove the cover unless you have the proper equipment and training to do so. We encourage you to schedule an appointment today to have one of our Professional Service Technicians inspect your panel for visible hazards like those shown above.
Do You Need An Electrician?
Who do you call?
What questions do you ask?
10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Home Electrical System
Do circuit breakers in your home trip often or do fuses keep blowing?
A home electrical system has these built-in safeguards to prevent electrical overload.
Too much current causes the breakers to open automatically or the fuses to melt.
When a circuit shuts down repeatedly, it's a warning that should not be ignored.
Are GFCI outlets installed where required?
The National Electrical Code now requires extra protection for outlets in specific areas of the home, such as kitchens, baths, utility rooms, garages and outdoors.
Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)— which are identifiable by their TEST and RESET buttons—are generally required in proximity to wet locations.
If your wiring has not been upgraded with GFCIs you're not protected.
Are extension cords needed to reach the outlets in any room?
Electrical outlets, especially in older homes, are often spaced too far apart for modern living. This not only creates too much demand on too few outlets,
it also poses a hazard when the extension cords are run under rugs and furniture.
Is there rust on the main electrical service panel?
Even permanent fixtures wear out or suffer the ravages of time.
When rust appears on the metal service panel it often indicates a moisture problem or that deterioration has reached an advanced stage.
Do the lights dim when appliances turn on?
High-demand appliances such as air conditioners, clothes dryers, refrigerators and furnaces need extra power when they start up.
This temporary current draw can be more than just a nuisance; it can damage sensitive equipment.
Do electrical switches or outlets feel warm or tingly?
Loose or deteriorating electrical connections, such as the wiring junctions in switches and outlets, impede current flow and create resistance.
THis may create a dangerous condition that can result in shock or fire.
Do your electrical outlets need accessory plug-strips?
Too many things plugged in at one location can create more current demand than a single outlet or electrical line can safely handle.
Adding multiple plug-in strips won't solve the problem. What you need are additional outlets, and possibly new wiring runs to service them.
Do your outlets not accept three-prong plugs?
The third, or grounding, prong on a typical appliance plug provides an extra measure of safety against electrical shock.
Older two-prong receptacle outlets, installed in homes before this innovation, may not be adequately grounded and should be upgraded.
Is the wiring in your outlet boxes old and crumbling?
If you look at the wiring to your home's light switches or outlets, do you find wires wrapped in cloth sheathing or bits of black rubber in the electrical box?
Very old homes often have antiquated wiring that should be upgraded to ensure your safety.
Have you never upgraded your electrical service?
If your home is over 25 years old, you could have an inadequate and possibly hazardous electrical system—and not even know it.
To be safe, call in an electrician for a thorough inspection, and if necessary bring your home up to today's electrical code standards.
Questions to Ask an Electrician
If you need to consult a professional electrician or electrical contractor, ask the following questions to learn whether the individuals you're considering
are fully qualified and likely to do reliable work at a reasonable price.
Are you licensed in this municipality?
Not all states, counties or towns regulate or require licenses for electricians, but it's prudent to check first with your local building department.
Also ask if electrical work in your municipality must adhere to standards established by the National Electrical Code.
Will my electrical panel need replacement?
The current National Electrical Code recommends a minimum 100-amp incoming electrical service. If your service panel provides less,
it should be upgraded to this level or better to meet today's home requirements. Most new homes are wired with 200-amp service.
Will I have to apply for a permit?
If a permit is required, the electrician often will make the application for the homeowner.
Some municipalities allow homeowners to do minor electrical repairs and installations if they first secure a permit and have the work inspected when complete.
Is my home's electrical system adequately grounded?
Ground-wiring protects a home and its occupants in case of an electrical fault, such as a short-circuit.
But grounding also protects expensive electronic equipment like computers and many appliances. An electrician can quickly check and add grounding capacity if needed.
Are there any hidden costs for the work?
The electrician should do a thorough preliminary inspection and provide you with a firm,
accurate estimate of the work involved, along with the cost of fixtures or wiring that will be installed. If additional work is necessary,
it can be negotiated and billed separately.
Will you use all-copper wiring for any new installation?
Solid copper wiring is the material of choice for new homes or renovations. Although 14-gage wire is allowed for many circuits,
it's smart to install heavier 12-gage wiring, which costs a little more but can handle more electrical current, making it safer and more energy-efficient.
If my service needs upgrading, will the entire house have to be rewired?
Unless you live in a very old home with antiquated wiring, you probably won't have to replace your existing electrical lines.
However, if you require more electrical capacity in certain rooms, new wiring runs and additional outlets are likely to be needed.
Can you provide references from other homeowners?
Every tradesperson or electrician is only as good as their reputation. If you have never contracted with the electrician who answered your call,
it's fair to ask for the names of other homeowners who have and to give them a call to check the contractor's work.
Panel Upgrades For Your Northwest Home
Repairing or rebuilding your circuit breakers can prevent unnecessary downtime and in many cases is more economical than replacing your existing equipment. Our experience ensures that we can perform top quality repairs, modifications, rebuilding and maintenance on most circuit breakers and larger frame molded case breakers of all brands and vintages.
An electric panel upgrade is just what it implies. It is an upgrade from the existing electrical panel. With all the new appliances, and technical devices we now have in our Wa. homes, we find that older homes might not have sufficient power available to handle the increased demand. Therefore, a "service change" is required. This includes not only an upgrade in your electric panel. but an upgrade in your meter socket and wire size between the meter and panel.
Panel Change Out
A panel change out is usually required to alleviate a problem with the existing panel. Sometimes a breaker might overheat to the point that the buss bar in a panel gets burned. The conductors between the meter and panel may become loose and burn out the main lugs, especially common when aluminum conductors were used.
When you plugged in your new refrigerator, cranked up the air conditioner, or turned on the light to read this report, you probably didn't give a lot of thought to the wires carrying the electricity.
Few people do. After all, your home's electrical system is hidden in the walls. Wa. State homeowners generally know so little about electricity that they tend to take potential problems too lightly or overlook them altogether.
But you need to pay attention to your home wiring no matter when your home was built or where you live, especially if you live in an older home. Thirty-nine thousand house fires and 350 deaths each year in the U.S. are caused by faulty home wiring and other electrical equipment, such as extension cords, lighting, and plugs, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Call Mike @ 888-278-3616 for your service upgrade
Hi Amp Electric provides services for replacing or repairing your electrical service for these areas:
South King County, Pierce County, Thurston County, Mason County, Lewis County, Seattle, Sea-Tac, Burien, Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, Covington, Sumner, Pacific, Gig Harbor
Algona, Maple Vally, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Bonney Lake, Orting, Buckley, Ruston, Milton, Fife, Puyallup, Eatonville, Lake Tapps, Edgewood
Elbe, Ashford, Morton, Steilacoom, DuPont, Lakewood, University Place, Tacoma, Parkland, Spanaway, Graham, Roy, Mckenna,
Yelm, Nisqually, Rainier, Tenino, Bucoda, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Shelton, Centralia, Chehalis.