A home’s electrical panel is responsible for holding multiple circuit breakers that distribute power throughout the home, making it an important component of the structure.
These panels should be inspected periodically to maintain optimal performance. Regular inspections can catch issues early, preventing costly repairs. Keeping the electrical system in top working order will also help improve their efficiency, resulting in lower utility bills. In fact, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers cites a failure rate of electrical components as being three times higher for systems that hadn’t received preventive maintenance.
The following are simple steps for homeowners to conduct preventive maintenance on their home’s electrical system:
Monitor Doors and Box Covers
Dust and moisture are two major concerns for electrical devices. They can cause problems for an electrical panel that is not regularly cleaned. Dust and dirt can be deposited on electrical connections, providing a high resistance path directly responsible for more than 30 percent of electrical failures, according to an article for Hartford Steam Boiler. Live electrical components that are exposed to moisture also account for 17 percent of electrical failures, and panel box moisture can cause rust and corrosion on circuit breakers and terminals.
Panels can be easily kept clean using a vacuum, but compressed air should be avoided to prevent engraining contaminants deeper in the panel crevices. To help prevent moisture buildup, keep indoor humidity at appropriate levels.
Check for Loose Connections
Loose connections can be evident by the wire’s deteriorated metal quality, or if it is broken or pulled loose from its the terminal or wirenut. To identify loose connections, keep an eye out for:
- White or red wire insulation that is browned near the connection
- Discoloring or bubbling on a receptacle or cover face
- Wire insulation within 1”-2” of a connection point that is melted/cracked
- A switch, receptacle or wirenut that is charred, melted or falling apart
Any repairs or additions to the electrical system should be completed by a qualified electrician.
Keep Adequate Records
Maintaining a record system of work that has been done and any tests that have been performed on the system, along with test results, will provide a clearer picture of an electrical panel’s condition. This can help identify a potential failure that can be corrected before it happens.
For more information on your home electrical systems, find a trusted, friendly home inspector near you at WIN Home Inspection.