Troubleshooting Your Fuse Panel
If you live in an older home in Buckhead and it hasn’t had an electrical upgrade in the last few decades, you may have a fuse panel somewhere in your house. The fuse panel is the point where electricity from an external power source - like your utility company or even solar cells - enters your home. The fuses protect your home’s interior wiring and circuits from dangers such as power surges or short circuits.
Fuses have generally been replaced by safer, more stable circuit breakers in newer homes because fuses - although as safe as a breaker when properly installed and maintained - tend to come with certain idiosyncrasies that can require a little more hands-on attention than breakers. The primary advantage a breaker has over a fuse is that, if it’s tripped, it does not have to be replaced. If your house is equipped with a fuse panel, however, you will need to keep plenty of spare fuses on hand in case you need to replace one that has blown. Apart from occasional fuse replacement, though, any work done on a fuse panel should be handled by a professional electrician.
A fuse will only allow the the number of amps for which it is rated to pass through its circuit. So, if 20 amps of electricity attempt to pass through a 15 amp fuse, a metal strip in the center of the fuse will melt and the fuse will “blow,” shutting down the circuit and requiring replacement of the fuse. Apart from their inability to be reset, fuse panels can be a problem because they often mean that your home still has an older electric service that can’t handle the strain that today’s modern electronics can put on a home’s system.
Should You Upgrade Your System?
If your electronics and appliances are attempting to draw too much electricity, fuses may blow. Some homeowners may try to bypass this problem by using fuses that are rated for higher amperage. However, the wires that are connected to that fuse’s circuit are usually not rated for more amperage. Using a larger fuse can actually create a fire hazard. Another common problem with fuse panels occurs when more than one wire is connected to a single fuse - known as double lugging - which can also be a fire hazard, since fuses are designed to handle only one wire at a time.
Because of the problems often associated with fuse panels, many insurers will charge a higher premium for homes equipped with fuses. In the long run, you may want to consider having an electrician at Casteel upgrade your fuse panel to a breaker system. It will save you time, hassle and money.