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Serving the Buffalo Area since 1995

Scherer Electric Blog

Ways to Tell Your Electrical Panel Has Damage


One of the most important jobs we take on as electricians is replacing electrical panels in Orchard Park, NY and elsewhere in our service area. Panels are the central “switching station” for a home’s electrical system: this is where the incoming current divides into the various circuits for the rest of the building. As residential electrical usage increases, old panels become obsolete and need upgrades. 

But panel age isn’t the only reason you may need to have a panel replacement (or in some cases panel repairs). A damaged panel requires professional assistance right away or your home may face serious electrical hazards or a loss of power.

How can you determine if you have a damaged electrical panel? We’ll guide you through the major signs below.

Continually tripping circuit breakers

If a single circuit breaker trips often, it probably means something is wrong with an appliance that’s overloading that specific circuit. (Air conditioners often do this during the summer.) When various circuit breakers start to trip regularly without any discernible pattern, the panel is either damaged or telling you it cannot handle the electrical demands of the house and needs an upgrade.

The panel feels warm

We warn people to watch out for warmth coming from outlets and switches, as this often indicates an electrical fire. The same applies to the electrical panel. A warm panel may have exposed wiring or be overheating. The worst-case scenario is frayed wiring, which creates a danger of an electrical fire. This is the reason to call an electrician immediately. 

An acrid odor from the panel

If you notice a sharp smell from the panel, it’s another warning of frayed wiring and possibly an electrical fire that has already occurred in the panel. Don’t hesitate to call for an electrician—your panel may be creating a major danger for your home.

Visible scorching

Another sign of an electrical panel fire is when you can see black scorch marks on it. 

A buzzing sound from the panel

You can expect to hear a soft buzzing coming from your electrical panel. This is the routine sound of the flow of electrical current. If this buzzing noise gets louder, however, it’s a problem. This warns that one of the circuit breakers is overloaded and has failed to trip when it needed to. Get an electrician to inspect the panel and discover what’s wrong.


Yipes! This is a big warning of electrical problems. Sparking comes from loose wires creating arcing faults (electricity taking a shorter route than it’s supposed to). This level of problem often indicates the panel was faulty when it was installed and it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. First shut down the power to your house, then call for an electrician. You’ll likely need a full panel replacement.

Please do not attempt any DIY repairs to a faulty electrical panel! Amateur work presents extreme dangers to you as well as to the rest of the house. Only licensed electricians can do the work—and you have one of the best teams available with only a phone call.

Do you have questions about your electrical panel or need to schedule service for it? Then call us: Scherer Electric Is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! 

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