Fuses react quicker to overload than circuit breakers, but you don’t hear this when people talk about how dangerous old fuse boxes are. The reason for this is that regardless of how quickly fuses react to an overload, they fall short in several other areas that make them unsafe.
About old fuse boxes
As the name may indicate, old fuse boxes were commonplace with older homes. An old fuse box is a breaker box designed to supply electricity to a home, and it consists of fuses. Fuses were designed to blow when there’s an overloaded circuit. This mechanism immediately cuts off power to the circuit and prevents electrical fire. Since the fuses blow as a safety mechanism, it has to be replaced to work again and provide power to the circuit.
By function, there is hardly anything unsafe about fuse boxes. Rather, the major problem comes from them being old technology.
Issues with old fuse boxes
If old fuse boxes were often used and manufactured for older homes, one thing is clear – their capacity is designed for old homes. This was in a time where homes thrived on 60-100 amps of electricity. Now, it’s different and homes require anywhere from 200 amps to 400 amps. Although some might get away with 100 amps.
Old fuse boxes were never designed with such capacity in mind, and this makes them unable to supply enough electricity for a modern household.
For some homeowners, this is enough reason to replace their old fuse boxes with modern and approved circuit breakers.
While other homeowners take the dangerous path to tamper with their old fuse boxes. It’s easy to install a fuse with higher capacity in a circuit with lower capacity because the design of old fuse boxes allows many shortcuts. Doing this can create a fire hazard, and most homeowners who purchase old homes have no way of knowing if the old fuse box has been rigged in this way.
Other common issues with old fuse boxes include –
- The need for different reels of fuse wire
- You could easily use the wrong fuse wire
- Fuse wires get hot quickly and are a huge fire hazard.
Can you maintain an old fuse box in your home?
Yes. Even though old fuse boxes are old technology, they can work well in some homes for a while. Maintaining a fuse box is similar to maintaining a circuit breaker. Regularly inspect the fuse box and repair or replace any faulty parts.
When the old fuse box gets overloaded
If you have been using an old fuse box and suspect it may be overloaded, some signs can help you know for sure.
- The wall around electrical outlets in the home feels warm
- Fuses blow frequently
- The old fuse box makes hissing or loud sounds
- Some appliances won’t work at the same time.
Should I replace my Fuse Box?
First, inspect your electrical panel to be sure you have an old fuse box. This should be carried out by an electrician who will also check if the fuse box is a 60amp or 100amp service. A 60 amp service will probably need to a replacement. But a 100 amp could serve your needs if it is in good condition.