What to Do in an Electrical Panel Emergency

Despite being one of the most important aspects of a modern home, your house’s electrical panel is often out of sight and out of mind. However, it’s important to know the potential risks associated with electric service panels. In fact, they’re one of the leading causes of residential fires.

Electric Panel on Fire

An electric service panel can overheat to the point that it bursts into flames. Remain calm, and assess the situation. If the fire is getting out of control fast, exit the house, and call 911. If you think you can control the fire, you should still call 911 first or have someone else do it.

With an electric panel fire, most homeowners will not have a way to disable the main power. Use a fire extinguisher of the appropriate type. A Class C fire extinguisher is the preferred option. A Class ABC fire extinguisher is not as effective but is safe to use. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher but have a fire blanket, you may be able to smother the fire instead.

Once the fire department tells you it’s safe to do so, call a local electrician to repair or replace the panel. Note that homeowners own their electrical panels, and insurance may cover it. But there’s no reason to call your electric company as there’s nothing they can do.

Odd Noises

Hearing a slight hum when you’re very close to the electrical panel is normal. Any other noises are not. Examples include a loud humming, sizzling, crackling, and popping. If it’s a loud buzzing, it’s usually a bad circuit break that isn’t tripping. Turn it to the off position, and call an electrician.

Sizzling and other noises generally indicate a loose wire or other fault. Turn off the main power as this will eliminate any chance of a fire. Then, call an electrician to come out and inspect the panel.

Burning Smell

Any burning smell, no matter how seemingly minor, is a warning sign you don’t want to ignore. Turn off all important electrical appliances. Then, disable the main power, and call an electrician. There are two primary causes of a burning smell. Either a circuit breaker has gone bad and is melting or something is causing the wires to overheat and melt their own insulation.


Sparking may accompany the odd noises discussed earlier. As mentioned above, you want to protect your major appliances, cut the main power, and call an electrician. Do not ignore sparking because it just happened once or occurs intermittently. Even a single spark should never happen. In addition, it suggests a problem that could lead to a fire and extensive damage to your panel.

If you’re experiencing issues with your electrical panel and live in El Paso, TX, call Secure Contractors at (915) 221-8214 or contact us online.