How to Troubleshoot an Obscure GE Electrical Panel from the 1970s

How to Troubleshoot an Obscure GE Electrical Panel from the 1970s

I recently moved into a house with an old GE electrical panel from the 1970s. As you can imagine, troubleshooting and maintaining this obscure panel has been a challenge. Here's what I've learned about troubleshooting these old GE panels:

Gather Information on the Specific Panel

The first step is to gather as much information as possible about the specific GE panel you have.

Knowing the exact model number unlocks a wealth of helpful information for troubleshooting and maintenance. Spending some time upfront gathering data on your panel pays off later.

Inspect the Panel Thoroughly

With the power off, remove the panel cover and inspect everything closely. Look for:

Document any concerning issues you find. Even minor problems should be addressed.

Check Connections are Tight

Go through and check that all wire connections are tight. Loose connections cause arcing and heat that leads to shorts and fires.

Snugging up every connection ensures optimal power flow and safety.

Test the Voltages

Use a multimeter to test voltages throughout the panel:

This reveals any circuits that are over or under voltage. Out-of-range voltages lead to equipment damage or malfunction.

Evaluate the Grounding

Inadequate grounding is extremely dangerous. Carefully evaluate:

Proper grounding is essential for preventing shocks, fires and surge damage.

Consider an Electrical Panel Upgrade

If the panel is very old, parts are hard to find, or it's just overwhelmed, it may be time for an upgrade. Newer panels offer:

Upgrading the panel improves safety, allows for expansion, and gives you access to the latest technology.

Call an Electrician for Complex Issues

Some panel problems, like faulty breakers, worn bus stabs or aluminum wiring, require an electrician. Don't take on complex electrical issues as a DIY project. The risk of injury or damage is too high.

For serious issues beyond your skill level, hire a licensed electrician that specializes in electrical panels. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix intricate problems.

Troubleshooting an old GE panel takes time and diligence. But with careful inspection, voltage testing, grounding verification and selective upgrades, you can keep your vintage electrical system running safely.