Before the ‘90s, it was common to have an electric fuse box installed in the home. If you have bought a charming old house with a fuse box, there are some things you need to know about how to use it safely.
How Does a Fuse Box (Electric) Work?
A fuse is a tiny metal cylinder that carries electricity. Any surge of electricity can cause the fuse to overheat and stop the flow of electricity. A fuse has long been a reliable electrical feature in the home.
Fuse Box vs. Circuit Breaker
The fuse box is less mechanical than a circuit breaker, which means the broken fuse itself will be replaced and not simply reset like in a circuit breaker. At the same time, circuit breakers have become the standard today; some circuit breakers malfunction by continuing electricity flow even when turned off.
Both electrical systems are designed to cut off excess voltage flow. While the fuse needs to overheat before it breaks the current, a circuit breaker trips a switch.
Fuse Box (Electric) Dangers
The increased voltage usage in modern homes has made the fuse box less reliable as bygone days. In addition, the increase in outlets and appliances in modern homes cannot be handled by a fuse box without blowing fuses repeatedly.
A bigger, modified fuse box is necessary for modern use. The trusted fuse box for many decades now carries a fire hazard. However, unlicensed modifications to a fuse box should be avoided. DIY patchwork fixes on fuse boxes may include placing a penny as a replacement for the fuse to avoid keeping the fuse blowing. Unfortunately, this patchwork can cause the wires to burn out.
Overloading the Circuit
Every electrical system has a maximum load it is capable of handling. Excess loads can cause a fuse to blow up. Therefore, it is vital to know the maximum power rating of your current fuse system and not exceed that.
To know the maximum wattage a fuse can handle, multiply the ampere rating you can see on the fuse and multiply that by 120 volts. As a rule of thumb, a 15 amp fuse has a maximum power of 1,000 watts. Therefore, appliances with a higher power rating shouldn’t be connected to the fuse box (electric).
Using high-voltage appliances altogether can also cause limits to be exceeded. So, don’t plug too many appliances into the same outlet.
Increasing Rating of Fuse
Replacing the fuse with a higher rating than the damaged fuse is dangerous, as it may not be compatible with the rest of the circuit. In addition, the wires may have a lower rating, so the fuse won’t be able to turn off when the wires themselves can no longer handle the current flow.
Using Wire as a Fuse
A common misdemeanor with fuses occurs when they are replaced with fuses of another electrical conductor, like wire. Some would cut a small wire to complete the circuit. However, as the fuse and wire don’t have the same rating, the circuit can overload, posing a fire hazard. Either that or the wire can burn up when appliances are in use.
Replacing a Fuse Box
It costs an average of about $1,500 to replace a fuse box with a circuit breaker. Suppose you have insurance for your fuse box. In that case, you may pay a premium in insurance every year as insurance companies increase the amount they charge, as fuse boxes risk causing fires.
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