December 12, 2010The breaker panel is the most vital part of your home`s electrical system. It is used to connect to the power lines from the utility company and also delivers electrical current to all of the circuits inside your home. It is also your home`s primary line of defense against electrical problems. The breaker panel uses fuses to help safeguard against overheating, overloading and other electrical problems in your home. Fuses are designed to wear out over time and are designed to automatically switch off if the load is too much for your home`s electrical system to handle. There are a number of things that can go wrong with your home`s main breaker panel however.
Damaged Electrical Service Cables
Electrical service cables are the cables that run from the power pole to your home. These cables are strictly the domain of the electric company and should never be touched by you or anyone else. If you suspect problems with the electrical service cables, contact your utility company immediately.
A common problem with many electrical service panels is due to moisture or water that leaks in to the box from outside the home. For instance, if you have a leaky roof, water may be able to seep down inside the electrical service panel through walls and enter the fuse area. You will usually notice moisture or rust damage because of the apparent rust stains on the inside or outside of the electrical service panel door. If you notice rust or milky discolorations, don`t go close to the service panel box. Rather, contact a licensed electrician immediately to inspect your breaker box.
Knockouts or Pennies Behind Fuses
Another common, and potentially very dangerous, problem with older types of electrical service panels that use older twist in type fuses is knockouts that have been placed behind the fuse. Sometimes, people will place a penny or other objects behind the fuse and then screw the fuse back into the service panel box. This prevents the fuse from tripping when too much current or load is passed through the system. Although this will keep a breaker or fuse from switching off the power, it is also very dangerous because the heat created in this type of situation could lead to an electrical fire.
Double Dipping on a Single Breaker
Sometimes, people will attempt to add new outlets and switches in a home without adding a new circuit breaker. When this is done, it is a common, but unfortunate, practice for some to run new wire to the breaker box and then insert 2 wires into a single breaker fuse. This is not only dangerous, but it is also illegal. Almost all cities and municipalities have rules and regulations that prohibit this type of double dipping into a single fuse. This type of problem has led to many home fires and has also led to the denial of many home insurance claims when the adjuster found out about the problem.