Fuse boxes were the first form of electrical overload protection installed in residential homes. Although many fuse boxes have now been replaced with circuit breakers, some homes still have operational fuse boxes. Knowing the difference between a fuse box and circuit breaker, and whether or not your home's fuse box is in good working condition, can help you keep your home safe from electrical fire.
What's the difference between a fuse box and a circuit breaker box?
A fuse box is a box that directs and controls the power in your home, using fuses to complete the circuits. When a fuse is overloaded, a filament in the fuse melts and breaks the circuit. Once the fuse is blown, the fuse is no longer good and must be replaced.
Like a fuse box, a circuit breaker box also directs and controls the power in your home. Unlike a fuse box, circuit breakers are designed to trip a switch when a circuit becomes overloaded. To restore the circuit, the switch must be put back in its original position.
Are fuse boxes bad or dangerous?
Although circuit breaker boxes are the modern preferred type of electrical panel, fuse boxes are not inherently dangerous. However, there are some drawbacks to fuse boxes that homeowners should be aware of, namely:
- Many fuse boxes do not get adequate electrical service for modern residences. Fuse boxes date back to a time when people needed less electricity, and as a result, many fuse boxes don't get enough amperage to safely run all the appliances and electrical equipment used in modern homes.
- To make up for this deficiency, some fuse boxes have been modified in unsafe ways. 10 amp fuses, 20 amp fuses and 30 amp fuses are the same size and will work in the same slot in a fuse box. To run more electricity through a single circuit without blowing fuses on a regular basis, some homeowners replace their lower amperage fuses with higher amperage fuses. This is dangerous because it allows more electricity to run through the wires than should be allowed. When homes change hands, many new homeowners fail to realize that this modification has been made. When they blow fuses, they replace the old fuses with fuses that are also too large, and the cycle continues.
How can you tell if your fuse box is safe?
The best way to tell that your fuse box is safe is to have it assessed by a certified electrician, like one from Kunselman Electric, Inc. He or she can perform any necessary electrical maintenance, and make recommendations for replacement if necessary.