Electricians, Nothing currently wrong with our circuit breaker panel or even the individual ones, but?

the house is 40 yrs old. Should we replace the circuit panel box completely (2200.) or just replace all of the individual circuits? ($800.) Are we being penny wise and pound foolish? We plan to stay in the house for years to come.

10 Answers

  • 8 months ago

    What kind of panel is it?

    FPE or Zinsco - dangerous panel! Changing breakers isn't enough! Replace panel soon, or replace innards with Eaton kit

    Challenger - panel fine, breakers bad, replace breakers with BR

    Alien (wrong-brand) breakers in panel - research to see if they are UL-Classified for your panel, if in doubt replace the misfit breakers... not worth smoking a bus over a $5 breaker

    That's not brand loyalty. Breaker busbars are different, and wrong-brand breakers may snap in, but won't clip on properly and will arc and burn the bus.

    - Split-bus panel of any brand

    - Pushmatic

    Both obsolete. Split-bus panels are a little risky but not worth getting excited over. See if you can install a new main panel right next to the obsolete panel -- and make the obsolete panel a SubPanel. That will solve the problems and only requires moving about 8 wires (big wires). You can add any new circuits into the new main.

    - Cutler Hammer CH (now Eaton)

    - Square D QO

    - GE Qline

    These are top industrial grade panels and fully supported. Keep them, enthusiastically!

    - Murray (now Siemens)

    - BRyant then Cutler Hammer BR now Eaton

    - Square D HOMeline

    These are not industrial grade but they're perfectly fine panels and fully supported. Keep em.

  • 9 months ago

    Instead of asking on Yahoo ask a professional Electrician to come take a look at it and see what they say. But also remember they might say to replace it to get you to buy something. Sometimes old things do need to be replaced due to new building codes and or safety issues.

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    It could be a better investment by having the panel replaced. Why? Simple instead of just replacing breakers they can balance the panel for you as well. By balancing the panel you can be more efficient in power usage, thereby lowering your electric bill. Another is if the panel is older trying to find correct replacement breakers and parts get harder and more expensive to find.

    Another point is even if you are not selling for years to come. You will eventually have to update to sell. The codes and rules have changed a lot in 40 years. Such as using AFCI (arc fault) breakers for living areas and using GFCI receptacles in the kitchen, bathroom garage and basement. In somecases it is just better to install GFCI breakers.

    Also by having new breakers that match the panel correctly, you lessen the chance of nuisance tripping which is caused by older breakers. And another is that with a new panel you will have a few spaces for upgrades or add-ons. And by code they are supposed to leave several open or blank just for that purpose.

    So that investment now will give you a piece of mind later and also lessen the expense of future projects.

    Another thought is this. the wire in your house outlived its life expectancy. The life span of wire is abt 25 years. Also all the splices are probably degraded and at a point where you might have small electrical issues. Almost like having a ghost in the house. Where things do not work right or light flicker, etc.. So if you are spending the money it probably be better to rewire as well as replace the panel and breakers.

  • 9 months ago

    my house is 43 years old ... not planning to replace any of the breakers as they're all working just fine. And I hope to be here for at least another 25 years ...

    why are you even considering this?

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  • 9 months ago

    If it's Federal Pacific, Zinsco, or any "split bus" panel I would replace the panel now.

    Other than that there really is no direct answer. If it looks like a lot of modifications or you know general purpose circuits have been abused by frequent use of portable heaters or other overloading then updating now might be good. There is a practical consideration, if you are 45 years old and want to stay until 80 or 90 then you can bet it will need to replaced some time. Your anticipated economic future might find it better to change it within the next 10 years.

    If you don't have any history of breakers failing I might have an electrician with a "FLIR" type infrared camera or other reliable temperature tester test then only remove and replace breakers with high temperature indicated in the image. In the process he may find a failing breaker has damaged the bus where the breaker attaches to the bus, then a panel replacement would be in order.

    • mermeliz
      Lv 7
      9 months agoReport

      These brands mentioned here PLUS "Pushmatic" were never actually UL approved and have been known to start fires! So Replace panel if you want to be safe! ~Retired electrician

  • Steve
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    I'm also with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" crowd. HOWEVER, circuit breakers ARE mechanical devices and need to be exercised on occasion to ensure they work properly. MY go-to electrician for the past 30 years recommends that once a year, turn them off, one at a time, then turning them on again. This works the mechanical springs inside and ensures they are free to move properly should the unthinkable happen.

  • paul h
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    I think you have your figures backwards...replacing a typical 100 amp panel box cost might be near 800.00 whereas rewiring the whole house and new box might be closer to 2000.00. I'd say a new panel/box would be the way to go to provide room for new circuits and newer breakers or AFCI/GFCI breakers and new circuits if needed for kitchen ,etc... But old breakers may work fine for many years yet. My 1957 house has the old Bulldog/Pushmatic breakers in the panel and have only needed replaced 1 in 60 years. Luckily they are still sold.

    If you have wiring or outlet concerns (aluminum wiring?) then perhaps it may be needed to upgrade all that as well but if it's all in good shape, then why rewire it? Should last for many years.A possible issue would be updating with new circuits if needed and AFCI breakers for sleeping areas....older GFCI's can be prone to nuisance tripping and might be best to replace them.

  • 9 months ago

    40 years would place it from the late 60s. Look up your breaker box on line. There was a brand back then which cheated on the specs and is considered unsafe. The breakers for that box are no longer available as they really didn't meet federal specs. I'm not sure what you mean by replacing all the individual circuits for $800. If you mean replacing the breakers, outlets and fixtures I really think you're wasting money. A bad outlet, breaker or light fixture can be easily determined with a proper inspection. The insulation on the old wiring would probably be more suspect than them and it would cost far more than that to replace.

  • Dze
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    i would just put new breakers in if it needs them .. replace receptacles if theyre worn out .. i wouldnt mess with the box unless your putting an addition on or something and need more capacity ..

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    'If it ain't broke don't fix it'. It could work OK for another 40 years. If not you deal with it as necessary.

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