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How Your Electrical Panel Works, and What You Need to do to Maintain it

You’ve probably made one or two trips to the electrical panel in the dark, when something causes the circuit to trip and shut off all the lights. While it may seem like an annoyance sometimes, the electrical panel is actually a very effective safety device. Without the panel, there would be nothing to regulate the flow of electricity through your home’s wiring, and that could get very dangerous indeed. Let’s take a look at how the electrical panel actually works, and what you can do to keep it in good shape.

The Panel

There are a couple of different styles of the electrical panel. Fuse boxes are an older variety, for example, but are still used in many homes across the country. This panel includes a number of disposable fuses connecting the various circuits in the home. When the voltage in the circuit exceeds safe levels, the fuse burns out and automatically breaks the circuit. When a new fuse is installed, the circuit is restored.

More modern circuit breakers don’t use fuses, but switches. These accomplish the same thing, but are not disposable. All you need to do when a breaker trips is flip it back to the correct position to restart the flow of electricity. Both of these panel types are designed to reduce the risk of things like house fires and electrocution. It’s important to note that if your circuit breaker trips, it’s probably for a good reason. Make sure that you examine all of the devices on that circuit before you restart the breaker, just in case there’s a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. If the breaker keeps tripping, you should definitely have an electrician look at it.


One of the best ways to make sure that your electrical panel is in good shape is just to have it checked every couple of years by a professional. Electrical panels are pretty sturdy under normal circumstances, but it’s much better to be cautious and make sure every now and again. A problem with the electrical panel is not something that should ever be ignored. If there is a problem, and your electrician finds it early during a maintenance appointment, it could save you quite a bit in repair costs.


Nothing is perfect, though, and there is a chance that your electrical panel will develop a problem between maintenance appointments. It’s important that you be able to tell which signs indicate that you need to have the panel repaired. As we mentioned above, repeated tripping or fuse burnouts is one of the biggest red flags that your circuit breaker needs repairs. It could also mean that you have overloaded that circuit, or there’s a short in the wires. The only way to tell for certain is to have an electrician examine it, though, which is why it’s so important to call for repairs as soon as you notice something wrong.

Douglas Cooling & Heating offers electrical panel services throughout Vestavia, AL. Contact us today for an appointment.

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