Home Repair

Old circuit breakers

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My house was built around 1930, the current circuit breakers are 20 amp. I have had problems with the circuit breakers clicking off on a regular basis. Also the house doesn't have enough electrical outlets. If I turn on the dryer all the lights dim. If I turn on the central swamp cooler (southern california) the lights dim and if the cooler is on you can't turn on the microwave, coffee maker, toaster ect. ect. ect., or you will have to go out and flip the circuit breaker again! I want to know, can I just replace the 20 amp circuit breakers with a higher amp and solve the problem? Also, I have had to install surge protectors on my electronics and small appliances because a few have actually been shorted out. I assume because of the fluctuation in power. Also I am on a low budget and can't afford a huge overhall. Any genuine advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You in advance for any help you send my way.
S.K. Cabrera
First of all you can't switch the 20 amp breakers for a higher rated one. The wire won't handle the extra load and will get hot. This in turn could start a fire inside the wall.

I would try and replacing the breakers themselves. Pick one that trips a lot and replace just that one. See if that helps. They may just be old and in need of replacement.
You will need to know what brand panel you have to be able to purchase the correct breaker. It should say something like General Electric, or Square D. A new breaker should cost between 4 - 10 dollars, depending on the brand.
Check the ground cable. This should be a continous heavy copper wire from the panel to the water pipe where it comes in, to the water pipe on the other side of the water meter (if there is one) and (in my area) to two ground rods 4 feet apart and 8 feet down. This wire needs to be one piece with no splices.
If it still trips, then you ned to have an electrician look at the panel to see if there is anything wrong and to see if it is capable of handeling your power requirements.


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