Fusion Electric Blog

How to Tell When Your Home’s Breaker Box is Full

If you have plans to install a hot tub or if you are building a pool, you need to determine if your home’s existing breaker box will be able to handle the additional load. If you notice that your appliances aren’t able to operate at their full capacity, it may be an indication it’s time to upgrade your fuse box.

Believe it or not, pulling additional electricity into your home doesn’t always require you to contact the professionals to repair or replace your breaker box. In some cases, you may be able to increase the capacity in your existing breaker panel. The question is – how do you know for sure?

Look Inside

If all of the slots inside of your fuse box have breakers, you may automatically assume it is full. However, you need to look at the diagram inside the fuse box door. This is what indicates the number of circuits a breaker box is able to handle.

If you see 20/40 notation, then that means that you have a box with 20 spaces for breakers and the ability to operate with 40 circuits. It is not uncommon for a home’s builder to fill up all the slots with single breakers; however, the drawing on the door will map out the spaces that are able to support tandem breakers. If there is no layout diagram in your panel, then you will need to hire a licensed electrician to determine its actual capacity.

Use Tandems as Much as Possible

A tandem breaker is designed to take up the same amount of space that a single one on your panel board does; however, it allows you to install two circuits in a single slot. In many cases, a solution to a full breaker panel requires you to replace all the singles with tandems. Before you do that, make sure you know if your existing box meets the Circuit Total Limitation (CTL) standards. The CTL certification was created in 1965 as a part of the National Electric Code. If you have a pane that was installed prior to 1965, then you will need to hire a professional electrician to help confirm its integrity and to take care of any needed repairs prior to installing the tandems.

Don’t Try to Do this On Your Own

Even if you are a great handyman, it is never smart to work on your electrical panel. A better option is to utilize the services of a licensed, professional electrician. This individual will know how to work with all types of electrical panel upgrades and have the expertise to ensure your home’s and family’s safety.

The electrician you hire will handle all of the specific tandem requirements present for older panels, which is something that few homeowners understand. This will ensure everything works properly and that you don’t have to worry about creating an electrical hazard when you install your new hot tub or pool (or any other addition).