Blew a fuse? It happens. And fortunately, it’s an easy problem to solve. When you move into a home, one of the first things you should learn is where the fuse box or circuit breaker box is located. They’re usually behind panels in garages and basements, but can also be found in closets or elsewhere.
Fuse boxes are important because they are the main access point to your home’s electrical grid. If there’s an electrical problem the box is where you can fix it.
In this article, we’ll look at why fuses and circuits blow or turn off, how to reset them, and how to fix a blown fuse or circuit.
Why Do Circuit Breaker Problems and Blown Fuses Happen?
Electricity enters a home through the main line which is outside of the home. You can spot the mainline by finding the electric meter outside of the house. The electricity travels from the power plant to the main line and then to the fuse box. The fuse box acts like the electrical heart of the home and distributes this electricity to the rest of the house.
Sometimes electrical surges, or large demands for electricity from appliances in a specific part of the house, will create a problem for the rest of the house’s electrical grid. In order to minimize the damage of a sudden surge, fuse boxes and circuit boxes were designed to be the weakest part of the grid.
This protects the home because the circuits or fuses are likely to turn off or blow long before any other part of the house’s electrical grid sees the damage.
Not only does the circuit breaker work as a method to reduce electrical damage to your home, but it’s also a convenient method to centralize most electrical problems to one part of the house. If the electricity goes out in any one part of the house, the circuit breaker box is the place to go to fix it. It doesn’t matter if there is a blown fuse or a circuit that needs to be reset. You can do it all from the box.
How to Fix a Fuse or Circuit Breaker That’s Off
A fuse or circuit breaker that turned off is probably the easiest electrical problem to fix. You simply have to turn it on. The process for turning on a circuit breaker will change based on the age of the house as circuit boxes and breakers have changed over time.
For Older Homes
What we now call a circuit breaker in a newer home used to be called a fuse box. Old fuse boxes would have round shaped fuses that you could screw in and remove from the fuse box. Old fuses do not turn on and off like new circuit breakers. In order to fix an old fuse, you need to buy a new one from a hardware store or elsewhere, remove the broken fuse and screw in the new one. This method is also detailed below in the “How to Fix a Blown Fuse” section.
Broken fuses may be easily spotted as they’re likely to look partially burnt or melted. However, if there is no damage to the fuse then you’ll have to do some extra work to find the broken fuse.
If there is no damage to the fuse, do the following:
- Find whichever fuse controls the lights in the room you are in by removing and putting back each fuse in the fuse box until the lights go out.
- Replace that functioning fuse with one of the other fuses in the fuse box to see if the lights turn back on in the room.
- Once you confirm that a fuse is working, put it back where you found it.
- Go through every fuse until you find one that does not turn the lights back on in the room. That’s the broken fuse that needs to be replaced.
- Instead of putting that fuse back where you found it, replace that fuse with the new one you purchased.
- Throw out the broken fuse and put the original fuse for that room back in place to turn the lights on in that room.
When moving into a house, you can proactively speed up this process by creating labels to the side of each fuse indicating what part of the house that specific fuse controls. A permanent marker and some masking tape are the easiest way to do that. All you have to do is remove the fuses one by one to see what part of the home is affected by that fuse. This way, if there is a blown fuse with no obvious damage to it, you simply look for the label that corresponds to the area of the house experiencing the electrical problem.
For Newer Homes
New homes use circuit breakers, which are switches, Circuit breakers are easy to fix because the circuit that needs to be turned on is flipped to the off position. You just need to flip it to the on position like you would a light switch. Sometimes an electrical problem isn’t strong enough to flip a switch although it does turn the circuit off.
To fix this problem you need to go circuit by circuit and carefully turn each one off and then turn it on again. Go from circuit to circuit until you find the one that fixes the problem.
How to Fix a Blown Fuse
Since old fuses only break, the process to fix a blown fuse is the same as mentioned before: Replace blown fuse with a new one. Circuits, however, can blow and when that happens the circuit needs to be replaced.
Circuits, however, can blow and when that happens the circuit needs to be replaced.
In order to replace a blown circuit breaker, you need to:
- Shut down your main power.
- Pop out the affected circuit and remove the two wires attached to it by removing loosening the screws.
- Attach the wires to the new circuit breaker and tighten the screws to fasten the wires to it.
- Put the breaker into place on the circuit board and then turn the breaker on.
- Turn on your main power again.
Electric problems can be difficult to fix and dangerous to attempt if you do not know what you’re doing. That being said a blown fuse or resetting a circuit breaker is easy enough where you probably won’t need to contact an electrician. Hopefully, now, you feel better prepared to fix any and all board related problems that may happen in the future.