At East-West Electric we believe in informing you on any electrical industry safety features that you may not be aware of. When it comes to electrical safety in your home, recognizing potential problems before they become hazardous is key to keeping your family and home safe and secure. In this article we will be explain the three important things you need to know when it comes to fuse boxes. What a fuse box is, what your fuse box is equipped with, and is your fuse box functioning correctly?
What is a Fuse Box?
A fuse box or fuse panel is a form of OCPD (Over Current Protection Device) that has been installed in homes since the first half of the 1900’s. It is a metal box installed inside (or outside) of homes with the sole purpose of protecting your electrical wiring and devices. Fuse boxes are designed to make sure that your circuit does not overload and thus damage your wiring, devices, or cause electrical fires. If an electrical current exceeds the maximum current rating, the OCPD will shut off power to the circuit.
How Fuses Work
Both types of fuses (mentioned below) work by breaking the connection (or opening the connection) within a circuit by overheating. There is a small strip of metal within the fuse that connects both ends. If there is a short or fault within the circuit the metal strip will overheat and melt, thereby breaking the connection and cutting power off immediately. After this happens the fuse must be replaced.
A plug fuse is the oldest type of fuse used in the panel and does not exceed 30 amp. The earlier renditions would allow for non-compatible sizes to be screwed in to sockets that had less power capability. The later designed (1960’s) Edison style plug fuses would only allow the correct fuses to be connected to sockets, thereby decreasing the damages to wiring and chances of electric fires. Plug fuses come in three different types:
- Standard Fuse – Able to connect different amp related levels
- Tamper Resistant Fuse – Unable to connect different amp related levels (recommended)
- Time Delay Fuse – Allows for a short period of electrical surge before the fuse blows
These cylindrical fuses are used for bigger appliances/circuits that need to exceed 30-amps. They are required for appliances like electric cookers, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioning units, etc. There are two types of cartridge fuses:
- Ferrule Fuse which are rated up to and including 60-amps
- Knife-Blade Fuse which ranges from 60-amps to 600-amps.
The Problem with Fuse Boxes
The problem with fuse boxes, like any outdated technology is that it has its deficiencies when it comes to health and safety. Fuse boxes incorporate plug/cartridge fuses that can be screwed in. The issue with earlier renditions of a fuse box is that it was possible to connect a 30-amp (base unit of electrical current) into a 15-amp socket in the older generation which can compromise the integrity of the box, increasing the chances of an electrical fire.
Testing Your Fuse Box
There are two options for testing a fuse. The easiest is if the fuse has a transparent outer layer that will allow you to visually inspect it. By looking through the glass if the metal strip appears melted and both ends are not connected than the fuse is blown. But more commonly, the fuses will have a non-transparent outer layer, so testing a fuse will require a multimeter. This is a tool that measures the resistance of the fuse element. When testing the fuse, it is important to place it on a non-conducting surface (wood, laminate, or plastic). If the meter reading changes to a lower value and resistance is present then the fuse is working, if it doesn’t change than the fuse is blown. If you don’t have a multimeter or would like an experienced electrical contractor to inspect your home, you can contact us right now.
Hiring an Electrician in Clearwater, FL
If you’re still unsure of the components of your fuse box or if your home is properly equipped to prevent electrical fire, you can call us at (727) 771-9403 today. We provide residential electrical inspections and can offer advice on how to keep your family safe this year. Our services extend throughout the entire Pinellas County.