Have you ever found yourself in the dark and not knowing why your neighbors were not? You probably have a blown fuse in the house and need to replace it. Do you know where your fuse box is? Older houses usually have their fuse boxes in the basement. Newer houses have circuit breakers (instead of fuse boxes), which only need to be reset. If you have never replaced a fuse before, don't fret. It's easy to replace a blown fuse. Fuses come in different shapes, forms and amps (amperage) depending on its intended use.
A fuse regulates the electrical current that passes between the power source and the electrical appliance. It basically protects your house or electrical equipment from fire/damage. The two basic types of fuses are:
- Plug fuse – made to be screwed into a socket found in the electrical panel box. The outside rim is made of metal while the body is made from porcelain, glass or high temperate plastic. Ferraz Shawmut, a leading manufacturer of power-related equipment, has a wide range of plug fuses for both industrial and residential applications.
- Cartridge fuse – usually cylindrical in shape with metal caps at both ends serving as contact points. Some larger fuses like the newer Cooper Bussmann Drive Fuse have metal blades at both ends. To replace a cartridge fuse, you will need a fuse puller (usually made of plastic to avoid electrocution).
A fuse protects your electrical equipment from a sudden and unexpected power surge. From Christmas lights, to auto headlights and electronic accessories, a blown fuse would probably be the culprit when these don't work. Think of the fuse as the sacrificial lamb that absorbs the damage intended for your electrical devices.
Below are the steps in safely replacing a blown fuse:
- Unplug the electrical equipment that caused the blown fuse.
- Go to your fuse/panel box. Make sure that your hands are completely dry and the floor is not wet. You may need a flashlight in case it is dark.
- Pull down the switch that turns off the main power source. Remember that the other fuses are still active.
- Check which is the blown fuse. For a plug fuse, look into the window. The blown fuse is cloudy, gray or scorched. With a cartridge fuse, you will need a continuity tester to check which fuse needs to be replaced.
- Unscrew the blown plug fuse in a counter-clockwise direction. Make sure to touch only the rim. If it is a cartridge fuse, use a fuse puller to remove it. If you notice any damage or rust on the sockets, you may want to call a licensed electrician right away. Do not attempt to replace the fuse until the fuse box has been checked.
- Screw or attach the replacement fuse until it is secure. The replacement fuse should have the same current rating shown in amps (amperage) as the blown fuse. Using a higher amp fuse can be a fire hazard.
- Turn on the switch for the main power and close the panel box.
- Discard the blown fuse properly.
The steps in replacing a blown fuse in your home or in your car are essentially the same. Just make sure you are replacing the blown fuse with a new fuse with exactly the same current rating. Also, buy fuses made by reputable manufacturers like Bussmann or Shawmut. It's best to keep spare fuses at home in case one blows up.