Electrical fires can be immensely dangerous. Sadly, each year hundreds of people end up killed or injured by electrical fires in the United States. Owing to the high risks of fires and other issues, it’s important to make sure that your electrical panel is in good condition. If it’s wearing out or malfunctioning, you should consider electrical panel replacement.

Besides causing fires, a worn-out or malfunctioning electrical panel can cause other issues. Circuits and fuses may go out more often, for example. Given how important electricity is for day-to-day life, you’ll want to make sure that you have as reliable of an electrical system as possible. Not sure if your electrical panel or circuit breaker needs to be replaced? We’ll cover some tell-tale signs below. Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive. If you think there’s an issue, you should get in touch with professionals as soon as you can.

Scorch or Burn Marks

Perhaps the most obvious sign that your electrical panel needs to be replaced is a scorch or burn mark on or near the panel. If you notice these marks, it’s a sign of a potentially serious problem. You will want to contact experts right away to mitigate any risks. Failure to do so could leave you, your property, and your loved ones exposed to electrical fires and other problems.

Melted Wires

If you see or smell melted wires, this is also a serious sign that your circuit breaker or electrical panel is failing. Often, you’ll smell the wires melting before you’ll even see them. It may smell like burning rubber or metal. If you don’t have a good sense of smell, you might want to ask someone else to sniff around.

If burning stenches are detected, you should contact experts right away. The risk of an electrical fire breaking out could be quite high. Ruined wire insulation can cause electrical arcs, which in turn can start fires.

You Have a Fuse Box

Circuit breakers are now favored over fuse boxes. If you have a fuse box, you should consider replacing it with a more modern circuit breaker system. This is true even if your fuse box seems to be functioning well. Circuit breakers are easier to maintain, and you won’t have to pay for fuses. More importantly, circuit breakers may be safer because they trip more quickly and there is no risk of you using the wrong fuse. When it comes to safety, you should never compromise.

You’re Installing New Appliances

Depending on the appliances you’re installing, you may have to put in a new circuit breaker. Some boxes simply can’t support powerful appliances. For example, you might have a circuit breaker that supports only 60 amps, but the appliances you want to install may require 100 or 200 amps. Underpowered boxes are especially common in older homes.

You Have an Unsafe Panel

A few older panels are known for being especially problematic. You should figure out what type of electrical panel you have and then should search for it online. If it’s a panel known for failing, you’ll likely be able to find info on that. Some panels are known for not tripping, for example, which can lead to electrical fires. Others are known for melting down or overheating more often than is typical.

The Panel is Rusting

If your electrical panel is rusting, you may have a serious issue on your hands, and it may involve more than your electrical system. Rust is a clear indication that the panel has been exposed to water. This may be due to a pipe leak or a similar issue. If so, you’ll want to contact professionals so they eliminate this exposure and replace the electrical panel if needed. Electricity and water simply shouldn’t mix.

The Lights Are Constantly Dimming

Even with the best electrical system and circuit breakers around, you may occasionally experience flickering or dimming lights. This isn’t necessarily a problem. However, if the flickering is more than occasional, it could be due to a problem with your circuit breaker or electrical panel. It may be time to replace or upgrade it.

If you notice any of the above or otherwise believe that your panel may not be functioning properly, it’s time to contact professionals.