Every home has a service panel that distributes electricity to switches, outlets, and appliances. The service panel is usually found in the basement, garage, or utility area.
When a short or overload shuts down power to a circuit, this is where you can restore the flow. It is also where you will shut down power to a circuit before starting a project or repair.
Fuses and Circuit Breakers
All service panels are equipped with fuses or circuit breakers that protect the wires in each circuit from overheating and causing a fire. In general, older service panels use fuses, while more modern systems rely on circuit breakers.
Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices that help prevent overloading of your home electrical system and prevent fires. They stop the electrical current if it exceeds the safe level for some portion of your home electrical system.
Service panels installed before 1965 use fuses to protect each individual circuit. Early fuses were commonly used in 30- and 60-amp service panels. Today, new homes require 100- to 200-amp service panels in order to provide proper protection.
There are several different types of fuses, and picking the right one may seem confusing at first. Each fuse is marked with a code, which provides information about the type of base and the degree of time delay, if any.
Instructions for Replacing Fuses
Once a fuse is blown, it must be unscrewed and thrown away. When replacing fuses in your service panel:
- Always make sure that the replacement fuse matches the amperage rating of the circuit.
- Never replace a fuse with one that has a larger amperage rating. This is a very dangerous practice and a serious fire hazard.
All newer homes are protected by circuit breakers. Unlike a fuse that must be replaced when it blows, a circuit breaker that has “tripped” can be mechanically reset to resume operations once the problem has been resolved. A tripped breaker is likely the result of too many appliances overloading the circuit and should be fixed immediately. For more information on any of our service offerings, contact us for an consultation.
Statistics courtesy of the Electrical Safety Foundation International