No matter how often you venture down to the basement or into the garage to check on your circuit breaker panel, it’s never a good sign when something doesn’t seem right with your electrical system. One common problem that homeowners run into, but don’t often talk about, is loose breaker switches. (Some older switches have a slight bit of looseness even when initially installed, but newer systems are built snugly and should not have any ability to move.) Especially if your switches are becoming increasingly easy to move over time, it can signify a more serious situation.
This electrical panel issue can have several possible causes, and each reason is worth exploring. Read on to learn why your breaker switches might be loose.
If your switches are loose, you might have loose wires, which is definitely a reason to call the experts. Loose wires can lead to loose connections — or even complete disconnections. Because these wires are no longer connected adequately to your electrical panel, they won’t trip the breaker to shut off your home’s power. Without the breaker turning that power supply off, malfunctioning hot wires can cause dangerous electrical shocks or devastating electrical fires.
Loose circuit breaker switches aren’t the only sign of loose wires. If you’ve noticed that your home frequently experiences power surges, you have to reset the circuit breaker constantly, you detect an electrical fire smell, or your appliances regularly short circuit, speak to an electrician ASAP to get to the bottom of the problem.
Behind your breaker switches, there’s a metallic strip called a “busbar” that distributes electricity. If the contact jaws of the circuit breaker switch are no longer making contact with the busbar, you’ll have a loose switch on your hands in no time. As your switches loosen, you may find that your circuit breakers trip more frequently, which can be incredibly annoying when you’re trying to get anything done. Have a licensed electrician repair or replace the switch — and while you’re at it, make sure they check the other switches, too.
Loose breakers are sometimes caused by brute force. If your electrical panel has experienced physical damage, such as a child moving the switches around with a screwdriver, you should seek help from a 24-hour emergency electrician immediately. The electrical connections may seem fine at first, but more problems could be lurking under the surface, so it’s important to make sure that you are safe. Finally, always keep kids away from the circuit breaker panel — that’s a matter of safety, too.
If you’ve ever dealt with rodents or other pests in your home, these crafty critters may very well be the reason for your panel problems. Rats, mice, and other small mammals can wreak havoc on your electrical system by nibbling through electrical wires and burrowing into the tiniest spaces. They can also cause damage to switches on the breaker by moving wires around and knocking things loose.
The switches on your breaker panel might be loose because your electrical panel is getting old and worn out. After 20-30 years, most circuit breaker panels reach the end of their recommended service lifespan. Your home must have a dedicated circuit breaker panel that works safely, so if yours is in its last few years of life, it’s time to replace it. Modern electrical panels have great perks, like additional safety features and improved controls. You can also take the chance to have additional branch circuit breakers installed. These breakers work in specific areas of your home, meaning that power-hungry appliances are less likely to affect your entire system.
Contact EP Electric LLC
When you need electrical repair or circuit panel replacement, turn to EP Electric LLC for the best service in the business! Do you have questions about ground wires, neutral wires, ground faults, or other electrical terminology? Check out our other blog articles to learn more exciting electricity facts, or make an appointment by phone or online. We hope to hear from you soon!