Homeowners insurance is designed to help you if an unexpected, unavoidable and expensive accident ever occurs in your home. It will usually cover you in the face of numerous household perils, including fires. Though most policies cover most fires, there are certain exceptions to this rule.
At times, certain electrical fires will not have coverage, particularly if a fire erupts due to bad wiring. Bad wiring presents a significant fire risk, no matter how new or old your home might be. It’s up to every homeowner to both use electricity responsibly and to maintain their systems overall. One of the first places to start is by maintaining your electrical panel.
What is an Electrical Panel?
Your electrical panel is the main switchboard that directs electricity throughout the home. Commonly called a breaker box, the panel is the main off/on switch that will allow you control the flow of electricity to different areas, specifically. One switch might control the kitchen, another, the bedroom, bathrooms, HVAC systems and other essential systems.
Why an Electrical Panel is a Risk
Since your electrical panel is your home’s main electrical source, it is a primary source of electrical fire risks. Your box is designed to automatically shut off if it becomes overloaded or short-circuits, and therefore acts as a fire-prevention mechanism. However, if the panel is malfunctioning, then these safety measures might fail. At this time, your risk of an out-of-control fire might skyrocket.
Reducing Risks from Electrical Boxes
To reduce fire risks due to a neglected or malfunctioning electrical panels, make sure you both use this system appropriately and maintain it. To do so:
- Have an inspector check your home’s electrical wiring and your panel every year. This can help catch problems that may exist in the electrical panel.
- If you notice problems with your electricity, shut the power off to the affected portion of the home. Have an electrician inspect your home immediately.
- Don’t over-burden your electrical system by using too many appliances or systems at one time. Overburdening your system may result in a blown fuse, which can pose a risk to your systems.
- Only install wiring and panels approved by local building codes and your insurance coverage.
- You must ensure that any panel you plan to install complies with local building codes. Advances in technology have made new electrical panels more efficient than older ones. They also include a variety of evolving safety features that will further reduce your risk of a fire.
Over time, local laws can change how panels and wiring are installed. These code changes help to keep risks from a home's electrical wiring low. As a result, older homes might have outdated boxes that pose a higher fire risk. However, if you plan to install a new one in an older property, then you will have to do so in compliance with current regulations. Some homeowners insurance policies will even mandate a panel upgrade before you can enroll in a plan.