Blowing a fuse or tripping a circuit breaker is quite a common issue if you like to do the cooking and cleaning while blasting music in the background. Fixing a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse is not rocket science. All you need is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
Why do fuses blow?
Before we get down to fixing a blown fuse, it’s good to understand what causes a fuse to blow. Fuses or circuit breakers are designed to blow or trip depending on the maximum amount of amps that they are rated for. If too many electric appliances are running at the same time, the load on the circuit increases. This can cause the wiring to breakdown and burn. The moment the load on the circuit exceeds the limit, the fuse blows or the circuit breaker trips to prevent your home from grave damages that could be caused otherwise.
Now that you know what makes a fuse blow or circuit breaker to trip, respond to the initial cause first. Unplug few of the electric appliances in the room or the rooms that have lost power. If you added a new appliance to the room a little while before the power went off, be sure to unplug that first. It is very likely that the last one is the problem maker.
This step is important because, if you don’t deal with the initial cause, the problem is likely to re-occur as soon as it gets fixed.
The electrical panel is usually located in the utility room or the basement. You will find it behind a small metal box or door. It could also be located in the garage, store room, attic, laundry room or the hallway. In older homes, you’ll find the electrical panel near the electric box meter, outside. Some large homes have more than one panel.
If you have trouble finding the panel, check your home inspection report, it may include the location of the panel. You may have got one done before purchasing the home. If you run out of options, contact a professional electrician. He/she will definitely help you find it. Make sure that you can access the panel easily and it isn’t blocked by furniture or boxes.
While dealing with electricity you need to be cautious. Make sure that your hands are dry, the floor that you are standing on is dry, and that you’re wearing rubber-soled footwear. You can take one step further into safety by wearing rubber gloves. This is common sense, but there’s no harm in mentioning, don’t use a metal box to stand on if the panel is above your reach. Metal conducts electricity, which means you can get an electric shock.
Once you open the electric panel you will know whether you have circuit breakers or fuses. Circuit breakers look like a series of levers or switches, while fuses are round and are screwed into sockets.
It’s good to know your circuits. Have a map of the panel that labels which circuit breaker or fuse controls which zone of the house. You can get this from the previous owner or the builder. If not, you can make one by switching off each breaker and checking which area of the home loses power. If you are dealing with a fuse box, the task could be a little more tedious as you will have to turn off the power, unscrew each fuse and turn the power back on again to know which part of the home loses power. However, it will save you time in future as you’ll know the exact part of the panel to look at.
If your panel consists of circuit breakers, look for a breaker that has moved to the ‘off’ position or is in between the ‘on’ and ‘off’ position. You can easily identify the breaker that is causing the problem. Move your hand along the row of breakers, you’ll find one that is out of line from the rest.
If the breaker has tripped and is in the ‘off’ position, move it to the ‘on’ position. If the breaker has tripped and is stuck in between the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions, first move it to ‘off’ and then switch it back ‘on.
If your panel has a fuse box, and does not consist of circuit breakers, check each fuse to see whether the wire inside it has melted or if the glass window at the top of it has discolored. It usually turns brown or purple if the fuse has blown.
Once you spot it, turn off the “Main” power to stop the flow of electricity to the fuse box. If you have a map of the electric panel, you can skip to directly checking the concerned fuse. Keep a battery-powered flashlight handy as you will need it to get a good look inside the panel, you can’t change a fuse in the dark. Unscrew the broken fuse and replace it with a new fuse that is the exact same size, amperage, rating, and type as the broken one.
Never, ever replace a broken fuse with one of a higher amperage. It can damage the entire wiring of your home and even damage your electrical appliances connected. In case you can’t find a fuse of the exact amperage, replace it with one of a lower amperage until you find the exact same one. If you are using a fuse with a lower amperage, remember that the circuit load is even lower. So you’ll have to restrict the number of electric appliances you plug in for the time being.
Don’t know the details of the fuse?
Here’s what you can do! Carry the fuse to the hardware or some store and ask them for the exact replacement. Fuses are rated at 15, 20 and 30 amps depending on the size of the wire that they protect. You might want to pick up a few extra fuses so that you don’t need to go running to the hardware store the next time you have a blown fuse.
If it was a broken fuse, turn on the Main. Now check if the power has come back. If it’s a circuit breaker, power will be restored as soon as the breaker is reset. If the fuse blows or the breaker trips again, it is likely that you are overloading the fuse with too many electrical demands. Move a few appliances around, this should solve the problem. It could be the sign of a bigger electrical problem if it doesn’t turn on. And you’ll need to call an electrician.
If your electrical requirements have grown, you will need to contact an electrician and inform him about the increase in your electrical needs.
If the issue has been happening quite often, it is advisable to contact an electrician and have an inspection done. The professional will be able to pinpoint the problem. Electrical wiring problems can cause serious hazards like a fire break out or an electrocution. When it comes to safety, it’s better to take precautions. If your home is 50+ years, it’s advisable to upgrade your wiring to suit modern day electrical needs.
Your fuse is not the only thing in your home that can be affected by an overload. Electrical appliances that are being used continuously without giving them a break can also experience overload. Overloads usually cause the machine to overheat, and this could result in a malfunction. This often happens to air conditioning systems in summer when they are continuously kept on all through the day, almost every day. It can happen to any other electric appliance as well.
Appliance damages can take place at any time and they happen without prior notice. These costs can be slightly expensive to bear if you have a portion of your income dedicated to paying credit, or if you recently invested your money somewhere, or both. Hoping for an alternative? By investing in a home warranty policy, you can get these appliances repaired and replaced by the home warranty company, and you will only need to pay a small deductible fee. The deductible on an average is $50 to $70.
A Home Warranty covers major systems, a whole range of appliances and home maintenance expenses as well. There are policies that are priced at $1 per day and even lesser. To know how much a home warranty policy for your home would cost, you can use our home maintenance calculator which gives you an accurate estimate. All you need to do is, enter the age of the home and other appliances to get your estimate.
But before you invest in a home warranty, make sure that you pick a company that is well known for providing home warranty services in your area. Investing in the wrong company will add to your expenses while finding the right one can help you save a considerable amount on repairs and replacements. Read reviews and do plenty of research before you zero down on a company. The best part about getting a home warranty is that you don’t need to worry about what will happen if any of your appliances break down.