Homes with a Fuse Box Instead of a Breaker Box May Be Hiding Serious Electrical Hazards
Long before breaker boxes, fuse boxes were used to as the main distribution point for electrical circuits in your home. Instead of using circuit breakers, however, fuse boxes rely on fuses to interrupt the flow of current in an abnormal electrical circuit. While a properly installed fuse can be just as safe as a circuit breaker, there are several differences home owners with fuse boxes need to be aware of.
A fuse is a protective device that contains a conductor that melts under heat produced by an excess current. When a fuse is exposed to more power than it is rated for, a thin strip of carefully calibrated metal known as the conductor will vaporize, interrupting the flow of current to the circuit. One advantage fuses have over circuit breakers is that they will never allow more current to pass through them than what they are rated for; however when a fuse is exposed to an excess of current the conductor vaporizes "blowing" the fuse, making it unusable and requiring the homeowner to replace the fuse with a new one.
Traditional circuit breakers are designed to interrupt the flow of current when too much current passes through them for too long a period of time. Unlike fuses, circuit breakers can be reset after they trip, making them much more convenient. Today circuit breakers are used in homes instead of fuses not only because circuit breakers can be reset, but also because as of January 2008 the National Electrical Code (NEC) required the installation of arc-fault breakers, a new safer type of circuit breaker, in new homes.
Are Circuit Breakers safer than Fuses?
Today, many consider homes with fuse boxes to be less safe than those with circuit breakers. To some extent, this is true, but not specifically, because circuit breakers aren't any safer than fuses. Fuse boxes are primarily found in older homes, which not only have older wiring, but were also not designed to handle the electrical demands of today's homes. In addition, older homes were wired according to the electrical codes of the day. Over the years, national, state and local electrical codes have undergone numerous changes and updates in an effort to make your home's electric service safer. As a result, homes with fuse boxes simply aren't as safe as they could be.
If your home has a fuse box instead of a breaker box containing arc-fault breakers, your chances of electrical fire are considerable. Each year more than 26,000 homes are lost as a result of electrical fires resulting in nearly 300 deaths according to the U.S Fire Administration, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
APower Electric Service is dedicated to the safety of you and your family. Our team of experienced, licensed and insured electricians can perform a comprehensive evaluation of your home's electric service to identify any safety concerns, answer your questions and address these safety issues before they become more serious. Don't assume your home's electric service is safe, contact APower Electric Service today and know that it is.