One of the most frequent places residential fires start is in electrical panels. Homeowners insurance may cover damage caused by fires that start in electrical panels. Coverage eligibility is contingent on the type of your electrical panel, its age, the residential codes in your area, and annual electrical inspections.
Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Electrical Panel Fires?
If there is a problem with your home’s electrical wiring, you may not find out until it is too late. Three out of five electrical fires are caused by arcing which happens when an electrical panel breaker fails to trip. Electrical fires are one of the top causes of residential fires and cause an estimated 500 deaths and $1.3 billion in property damage each year.
If electrical panels can be such a fire risk, then it is important to make sure that damage caused by fires originating in electrical panels is covered by homeowners insurance. Unfortunately, coverage eligibility usually depends upon the following:
- the type of electrical panel
- the age of the panel
- regional code requirements
- annual inspections by qualified electricians.
Your insurance company will cover some types of panel boxes in certain circumstances but may deny you coverage if your panel boxes are older, outdated, or proven to be significantly risky.
How Can I Make Sure My Electrical Panel is Covered?
Bad wiring is a home’s most dangerous fire risk, especially if it derives from a faulty electrical panel. Insurance companies will deny coverage on some panels because of the risk of fires they pose for the homeowner. To make sure your panel is covered, check what type it is and have it examined annually by a qualified electrician for safety and code compliance.
The Types of Panels Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance
If you have one of the following panels, they are probably not covered by homeowners insurance. The following panels have been deemed unsafe to have in your home:
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels – FPE panels are most common in homes built between 1950 and 1980. Federal Pacific Electric will likely be written on the cover of your breaker box. Inside, look for the name Stab-Loc (the brand name of the circuit breakers).
Zinsco Panels – Zinsco or GTE-Sylvania panels were popular electrical panels installed in homes throughout the 1970s.
Split-Bus Electrical Panels – Split-bus breakers are divided into 2 groups with no single disconnect breaker. These panels have not been installed for over 40 years.
Fuse-Box – Screw-in fuse boxes are old electrical panels that use fuses instead of switches.
If your home was built before 1990, you may have one of these outdated panels in your home. These panels are unsafe and no longer meet code requirements for residential safety.
Do I Need Annual Electrical Inspections to Maintain Coverage?
Annual electrical inspections by a qualified electrician or certified electrical inspector may be needed to maintain coverage on your electrical panel, especially if the wiring or panel is older. Electrical panels do not last forever. Heat runs through the connections all day and night, causing them to wear out over time. If your electrical panel is more than 20 years old, it could be a fire hazard. Having the wiring to your electrical panel inspected annually can help with claims should you need to contact homeowners insurance.
When Should I Replace My Electrical Panel?
There are certain instances when homeowners should consider panel replacement:
Your Panel is Over 20 Years Old
If your panel is getting older, replacement is the best way to limit your financial risk. Panels over 20 years of age should be replaced with newer models. Older style panels like those listed above should be upgraded to panels that comply with current residential codes.
You Want to Sell Your Home
If you are planning on selling your home, your panel will need to meet current residential codes to pass inspection.
If Your Electrical Usage Has Increased
Increased electrical load is another reason to replace your panel. Electrical panels come in different amp loads, and the higher your electrical usage, the bigger the amp load you need. As we add appliances, fixtures and outlets to our home, more switches are needed to hold them. If your electrical panel is full, it will get hotter and be more of a fire risk.
Home Additions May Be in Your Future
If you foresee major home improvements or home additions in your future, replacing your electrical panel with an upgraded version may be necessary. The addition of hot tubs, garage heaters, car chargers, and extra rooms to your home may necessitate an upgrade to a larger panel or multiple panels.
Get an Electrical Inspection
Electrical inspections are a smart precaution you can take to protect your home, your insurance coverage, and your family’s safety. An Anthony PHCE electrical inspection provides you with a comprehensive assessment of your electrical panel and wiring system and detects fire hazards before your safety is impacted. Anthony PHCE’s licensed and trained electricians are available to provide you with the best service, electrical solutions, and advice. Call our Anthony PHCE electricians today at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816).
Also learn how to Prevent Frozen Pipes and What to Do if it’s Too Late
During extended bouts of frigid weather, our furnaces run non-stop. Is this normal? And if it gets below zero outside, will my furnace be able to maintain a 70 degree temperature inside? And what can I do to keep my family warm and prevent my pipes from freezing?
The following is information about heating systems and tips to keep you warm as you hunker down in artic weather.
- Properly selected and installed furnaces in Kansas City can maintain at least 70 degrees inside even when it is 0 degrees outside; a 70-degree temperature difference. Most furnaces (whether electric or gas) are oversized, meaning they could maintain an above 70 degree temperature difference.
- When the outside temperature is in single digits your heating system will run close to 60 minutes per hour – it will not shut off or shut off for a short time period and then come back on for long cycles. This is normal, and it is okay.
- Even when temperatures plunge below zero outside, the structure of a home has “thermal mass,” which resists temperature change, so in below-zero weather the heating system will often still be able to keep the desired temperature inside.
- If desired, a homeowner can “over heat” their home by bumping up the inside temperature before the sub zero cold period and this will help keep a home warm.
- A homeowner could use a supplemental electric heater (but not near the main system thermostat) to add additional heat in the colder areas of their home.
- It is not recommended to have a fire in the fireplace for supplemental heat. A fireplace will draw a lot of heated air out of the house when it operates. There may be some benefit of radiant heat from the fire if you were near it, but it should only be used as temporary heat if the furnace does not operate. Fireplace flue dampers should be shut (when not having a fire) as a tremendous amount of cold air will come in thru the fireplace.
- It is not recommended that an oven or stove is used for supplemental heat.
- People with electric homes will have heat pumps and they will run as normal. The homeowner does not need to switch to emergency heat at the thermostat for the backup heat to come on. Operating the heat pump is more efficient than the electric furnace.
- People with heat pumps and a gas furnace for a back up should switch to emergency heat (a better term is auxiliary heat but the thermostat will say emergency heat). It is cheaper to heat a home with gas than electricity if gas is available. Switching to emergency heat will lock out the heat pump. This would be normal winter operations regardless of how cold it is outside.
- People that have water piping in suspect areas – attics, crawl spaces, garages and rim joist areas above basement foundation walls should take precaution to insulate the pipes or put electric heat tape on them. Vanity doors and kitchen sink cabinet doors can be left open to allow room air to circulate near the water piping. Portable electric heaters can be used near areas where water piping has frozen in the past. Faucets can be left on (both hot and cold) with slow drips which will help prevent pipes from freezing. Our Auto Ray infrared garage heaters are an excellent way to keep pipes from freezing anywhere near a garage.
If you have concerns about your furnace, call our expert technicians right away. We get very busy during extended periods of frigid temperatures, so don’t wait. Call us at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816) or click here: https://www.anthonyphc.com/schedule-service/.