Though they may be daunting, electrical problems are sometimes simply a problem with your electrical panel. While we don’t recommend you take on any complicated electrical job on your own (call BPM and we’ll send over a skilled, professional electrician!), there are a few common problems that might occur with your electrical panel that you can at least diagnose on your own.
Here are the Top Electrical Panel Problems
Corrosion is the most common problem that home owners will come across and it can range from no big deal to really big problem. Corrosion happens when moisture gets into the panel and begins to disrupt the panel’s function. It can be caused by humidity or possibly a leak dripping down from the roof above. When water gets into the electrical panel, the electrical connections can be compromised.
To eliminate the problem, try using a dehumidifier and check your roof for leaks, especially after the rainy season in Vancouver.
Oversized breakers or fuses
This problem is sometimes referred to as “overfusing”. It happens when a load-carrying wire is not big enough for the fuse to which it is connected. This is a serious problem and should be dealt with immediately.
It is best to have box bonding inside a panel, but not all panels have it. Generally speaking, a typical interior main electric panel should have some type of panel enclosure, but any sub panel that resides within the same structure should not have any type of bonding in place.
This translates to when multiple wires are connected to a single lug (when instead only one wire should be connected). It’s often done because there weren’t anymore slots to add new circuits. It might not be the most serious problem, but it does go against electrical code and should be fixed.
Missing or improvised handle ties
A handle tie connects the two separate breaker switches on a 2-pole breaker. There are approved handle ties that are standard for electricians to use and are commonly found in any hardware store. However, people often come up with their own improvised handle ties like a piece of wire that “does the trick”. We recommend you spending the extra money (handle ties are not expensive!) and get the proper tools for the job. When it comes to electrical issues, improvisation can lead to problems with severe consequences.
It’s good to have an idea about what goes on in your electrical panel — it’s the first thing you should know how to check if the power goes out in your home. You should be familiar with the basics of your electrical panel and be able to troubleshoot or identify basic problems like listed above.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and attempt electrical repairs yourself. If you think that there is a serious problem or something above and beyond your skill level, call your local electrician. At BPM, we are experts at electrical repairs large and small.