Does your home have a fuse box? If so, there might come a time when you’ll need to replace a fuse. If you own a home built before 1960, the chances are good that the type of electrical panel on your home is a fuse box, with fuses screwed in, providing over-current protection to each circuit in the home. Besides electrical panels in older homes, you’ll also find fuses throughout your house. Fuses are in many household appliances and electronics, and keep electrical surges from damaging these appliances and circuits.
When a fuse blows, you might hear a loud pop, and, if it’s a part of an electrical panel, you’ll lose power in certain parts of your house. Losing power is a bit of an inconvenience, but blowing a fuse can also be a good thing. After all, that fuse just played a critical safety role in preventing an electrical fault, which can lead to fires. When fuses work correctly, they can prevent damaging electrical overload to appliances and electrical equipment. In short, fuses blow because they’ve just blocked an over-loaded current flow in a wire.
Become Familiar with the Electrical Panel
Replacing blown fuses in appliances and electronics is an easier task than having to replace a fuse in a fuse box. If you need to replace a fuse in an appliance or a piece of electronic equipment, you’ll usually find them mounted on the outside of the unit.
Now, let’s jump to talking about the electrical panel. There’s no need to panic because replacing fuses in a fuse box is easier than you think. First, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the electrical panel — look for them in the garage, storage room or hallway, and in older homes, you might find them located outside, near the electric meter. It pays to plan ahead, so when it does happen, you’ll have the proper replacement fuses and know just where to go to replace the blown out fuse. If you need to replace a fuse at night, chances are it’ll be dark, so it’s also a good idea to know where you keep your flashlight.
While you should be mindful anytime you replace a fuse, replacing a blown fuse in an electrical panel requires additional safety precautions.
- Be sure to turn off lights and unplug devices and appliances so you can prevent overloading the new replacement fuses. We recommend wearing rubber-soled shoes and gloves. Also, make sure you’re not performing any electrical work standing on water — it’s critical that everything be dry, including your hands. As an extra bit of precaution, use safety glasses to protect your eyes. Once you’ve got the proper safety equipment, you can start accessing your electrical panel.
- Next step is to disconnect the power to the fuse box. Once the power is off, locate the blown fuse. You can find the blown fuse by looking for fuses that might be discolored, cloudy or have melted and broken metal pieces inside. Once located, unscrew the bad fuse and replace it with the same sized fuse. If you can’t find the amperage, you can always take the fuse to your local hardware store and have them help you find the right size. When you’ve got the proper fuse, screw it into the exact electrical panel socket of the original.
- Once the new fuse is in place, turn on the main power to the electrical panel. If everything looks good, you can plug in a few electrical appliances and some lights that are in the zone controlled by the fuse.
- If you’ve replaced the fuse and it’s still blowing, it might be time to contact a professional electrician.
- Is your home over 50 years old? Older homes may have issues with electrical wiring, so it’s a good idea to hire an electrician to inspect the wiring system.
Proper Fuse Replacement
Be sure to replace a blown fuse with the correct one, because replacing it with a larger amperage rated fuse can be a safety hazard. Usually, there’s an amperage and voltage rating marked on the fuse. If you aren’t sure of the size, use the smallest sized fuse. If it’s a smaller size, it’ll blow. Whereas, if the fuse is too big, it won’t protect from excessive currents and can cause safety hazards. Here’s a breakdown on the type of fuses you’ll likely encounter in a fuse box and electrical appliances. Become familiar with the type you need and keep a few extra in a storage place you’ll remember.
- Type-SL fuses – rating: 120 volts/up to 30 amps. These are one of the most common plug style fuses found in a home. These medium-duty, time-delay fuses feature a rejection base, which can prevent homeowners from using the wrong type of fuse for the circuit. These fuse types feature a heat-absorbing solder attached to the fuse element — this is the part that blows out or burns out during a circuit overload. The time-delay feature allows the fuse element to absorb a temporary circuit overload.
- Type-TL fuses – same as Type-SL, except TL fuses feature an Edison base (looks like a light bulb)
- Type-W fuses – rating: 120 volts/up to 30 amps. These general-purpose fuse types are not used today. They have no time delay fuse element.
- Type-S and Type-T – rating: 120 volts/up to 30 amps. These are heavy-duty time-delay fuses typically used for circuits with high motor loads or certain circuits with motors that cycle on and off often. These fuse types have a longer delay time than SL and TL types. However, their bases are similar to their SL and TL cousins.
If you’re still on the fence about replacing fuses inside a fuse box, call a qualified technician.
Whether you live in an older home or a newer home in Texas, you have a choice of selecting an electricity provider. At Vault Electricity, we can help. We list electricity rates in real-time and work with the most trusted providers in Texas.