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Common Problems With Household Electric Service Panels

An electric service panel is what connects your home’s wiring to the electric lines coming in from the street. It serves two core functions. It is a central distribution point: All the wires in your home branch off from this point. The panel also serves as a safeguard. It ensures that the wires in your home are getting the appropriate amount of power and are not damaged due to a surge.

Power Surges

A power surge is a sudden burst of electrical power that has greater voltage that your home’s electrical system supports. Power surges are often external, but they can be internal as well. When a circuit is overloaded, it trips. In an older home, you may have fuses instead, and fuses can blow. Resetting the circuit or replacing the fuse is a simple task that you can learn how to do.

An occasional tripped circuit is to be expected. Frequent tripped circuits are not normal. They usually indicate an issue with the electrical system in the home. A problem with the electrical panel itself, such as an oversized breaker, is possible, but the culprit could also be faulty wiring or a bad outlet or switch.


Corrosion is a common electrical panel problem. It can occur due to a leak, but humidity is the main reason it’s so common. Call an electrician at the first signs of corrosion, as it can wreak havoc on electrical connections and end up costing you a lot.

If your electric panel is in the kitchen or another humid area, make sure you have adequate mechanical ventilation and that it’s running whenever appropriate. If your humidity troubles are more widespread, then you may want to purchase a whole-house dehumidifier and maintain a relative humidity (RH) below 50%.

Double Taps

A double tap or double-tapped breaker refers to a lug that has multiple wires connected to it rather than just one. The National Electrical Code doesn’t specifically make it illegal, but it’s generally not recommended. Unfortunately, it’s a common installation issue. Double taps can lead to frequent tripped breakers but also overheating and even fires. Have an electrician remove any double taps as soon as possible.

Missing or Incorrect Handle Ties

On a two-pole breaker, the handle tie is what holds the separate breaker switches together. It is made of a specific material so as not to cause electrical issues. Handle ties do wear out over time and should be replaced when they do. A missing tie can lead to a number of hazards. An even bigger issue is when a homeowner replaces it with a wire or other inappropriate material, as this can cause shorts and fires.

If you live in Santa Cruz, CA and are experiencing issues with your electrical panel, call our team at Fisher Electric at 831.400.5032, or schedule service online.

Our local electricians are standing by to provide the highest level electrical services in Santa Cruz. Call 831-400-5032.