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Old 11-20-2009, 05:19 PM   #1
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When to upgrade service?

My 1972, 1,200sf, ranch house has a Cuttler-Hammer service panel, CH614D200. The label states is has a maximum capacity of 70 amps for main lighting & 200 amps total. Currently the main is using a 60 amp breaker.

But what I really want to know is if I need to upgrade? The only circuit that appears to have been added is a 20 amp for the freezer. I haven't had any electrical issues in the two years I have owned it, even when using Christmas lights. I've always been of the opinion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:42 PM   #2
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I've always been of the opinion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Any suggestions?
That's a good general rule of thumb. If no one has messed with the system it may last another 30/40 years.
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:56 PM   #3
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Sounds like an old split-buss panel.

If you are not having problems I would leave it alone.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:00 AM   #4
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I agree. If it works, no problems, don't fix it!

Time for replacement/upgrade is when one or more breakers are frequently tripping and there is no space left in the panel for more circuits. Or main breaker tripping. Or the electric panel is damaged, rusted, etc.

Or if you plan on adding an additional electrical load - room addition, installing electrical things like kiln, welder, RV hook-up, A/C, etc. (Then may/may not need to upgrade.)

You might want to do a safety check or have that done. Be sure the main ground to the electrical system is OK. These ground wires can be cut by lawn mowers. Or can be attached to cold water pipes, then the underground portion of the water pipe is replaced with plastic PVC and you no longer have a good ground.

Modern is two ground rods placed 6 ft. apart and the cold water pipe "bonded" to the ground system. Hot water pipe bonded to cold water pipe, etc. Best to have an electrician check this and turn off main power before working on any ground lines.

And you can beef up the safety of the outlets/circuits in your house. Add GFCI outlets to kitchen, bathroom, outdoors, garage (especially door opener if metal garage door), and basement. (Wet areas.)

And they now have child tamper resistant outlets if you have small children. This keeps them from sticking objects into the outlets.

If you have a lot of electronic stuff, a whole house surge protector along with good quality power strip surge protectors is a good idea. One power strip at each outlet where electronic gizmos are plugged in.
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