Fuse Boxes - Are They Safe?

Home Inspector with Complete Home Inspections, Inc.

Fuse Boxes - Are They Safe?            
     Many older properties still have fuse boxes. While, these antiquated devices are Fuse Boxokay, fuse panels, unless altered can be deemed safe. I consult my clients to consider replacing these with modern devices. Here's why:
     Older style fuse boxes serve the same purpose as circuit breaker boxes in that the fuse controls the amount of electrical current from appliances within a home.
However; fuse boxes are outdated by modern standards. The advantage to having circuit breakers in a home is that instead of replacing a fuse each time it is used, circuit breakers can be easily reset. In the event of an overloaded circuit, fuses have been proven to be more reliable and will "blow".  Replacing blown fuses can be frustrating, expensive and time consuming. Because it is easy to over-fuse circuits, may insurance companies will not insure fuse panels unless the S-type retro devices are installed. Even with these devices, some insurance carriers charge more to insure fuse panels.
     According to studies, faulty electrical wiring causes approximately forty thousand house fires annually. Like circuit breakers, fuses are used to prevent over heated wiring and fires by interrupting electrical currents in overloaded circuits. When a fuse blows or a circuit breaker trips, it is important to locate the source of the problem.
     For instance, if you have lights that seem to stop working frequently, you may have too many items connected to a single power source. Sometimes an appliance may have a short circuit; it could even mean a short circuit in the home’s internal wiring. In either case, it is best to have a professional in the appropriate trade evaluate the fuse box and wiring.
     As you would in a circuit breaker panel, label each fuse in the box. Labeling each fuse can make it easier to identify the suspect circuit. As a safety reminder, when replacing a fuse, turn everything off in the circuit to prevent electrocution.

This posting and the contents herein are the intellectual property of Michael Thornton of Complete Home Inspections, Inc. providing home inspections for Brentwood, Nashville, Davidson and Williamson County TN. This post is a contribution to the ActiveRain Real Estate Network.

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Complete Home Inspections, Brentwood TN 615.661.0297


Re-Bloggged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Anne M. Costello 02/10/2012 05:19 AM
  2. Greg Gillespie 02/10/2012 12:29 PM
  3. Roy Kelley 02/10/2012 07:39 PM
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Comments 24 New Comment

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Ginny Gorman
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond
Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate

Michael, i had fuses in my 1800s home and changed it over...it drove me crazy when the fuses would blow and i needed to have a complete service overhaul...i recommend upgrading from them to circuit breakers to ensure insurance will cover them...good share.

February 10, 2012 07:06 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)
RE/MAX Elite 513.265.3004 www.LizTour.com

Michael, Fortunately we don't run into too many of these old style ones in our area.  Most seem to have updated to the circuit breaker panels.

February 10, 2012 07:07 AM
Rob Thomas
Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro
Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954

Michael ...Great info as always ...I will be back later today and re-blog this one!

Have a great one!

February 10, 2012 07:10 AM
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

On every inspection I do with fuse boxes, there is a huge store of fuses nearby so they can be grabbed, apparently very often, as needed!

But gee, the color distribution in your photo is very well done, so this circumstance seems to be a good one!

February 10, 2012 07:11 AM
James Dray
AR., MO., or OK. I can find the home for you.
Wise Custom Realty

Sir Michael~just wondering how much on the average does it cost to exchange one of those to a newer model.  I know you can't give me anything wrote in stone and it would only be applicable to your area but just curious

February 10, 2012 07:33 AM
Michael Thornton
Home Inspector - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.0297
Complete Home Inspections, Inc.

Good morning, James. In our area, the cost is somewhere between $900 - $1200.

February 10, 2012 07:41 AM
Wayne Martin
Sales Manager - New Homes & Condominiums Division
Michael Saunders & Company

Great post. Haven't thought about fuse boxes since moving to Florida some years ago. Enjoy your day! 

February 10, 2012 08:28 AM
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating

Good morning Michael.

You don't really see them in Long Island.

Have a nice weekend.


February 10, 2012 08:48 AM
Michael S. Bolton
MN Appraiser
Michael S. Bolton,Inc.

Good Morning~Most underwriters get all worked up when they find out that there is a fuse box in a house, and usually want the appraiser to indicate whether it's adequate. My response is always, "Ask the inspector or an electrician, they're the experts and that's above my pay grade."

Have an AWESOME day!

February 10, 2012 09:10 AM
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com

Micheal, I haven't thought of fuse boxes in years.  That's why we use great home inspectors to make sure things are as they should be in all areas of the home.  Off to an inspection this morning myself. 

February 10, 2012 09:50 AM
Kristin Johnston, Waukesha Realtor 414-254-6647
Waukesha County Realtor, RE/MAX Buyer Agent
RE/MAX Realty Center

DO you know my hubby FINALLY labeled each one about a month ago?  We always had to have one of up near the box while the other yelled what turned off or not...lol!

February 10, 2012 10:09 AM
Keith Gilkey
410-920-7214, Re/Max Chesapeake
Re/Max Chesapeake

Michael, Great advice! I still run into a few of these but not as often. Have a great weekend!

February 10, 2012 10:32 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates


Insightful post, changing the old style fuse boxes to circuit breaks is in the owners best interests.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

February 10, 2012 12:30 PM
Greg Gillespie
CRS TN & MS - Broker
Crye-Leike Realtors

Thanks for the post Michael.  I see these a lot and you have given us some great thoughts to consider as buyers agents.

February 10, 2012 12:30 PM
Adrian Willanger
Profit from my two decades of experience
206 909-7536 TheHomeFunnel.com

Michael-occasionally I see a home with a fuse box and I simply mention to the buyers that this is something you want to have checked to see if it fits with your intend. Thanks for the information.

February 10, 2012 12:32 PM
Curtis Van Carter
Napa Valley's Broker Extraordinaire in Yountville
Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, Yountville Napa Valley


Thanks for some good info. There are quite a few older that still have fuse boxes especially in the City of Napa. 

February 10, 2012 12:37 PM
Chris Smith
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage

Electrical Panels with fuses were common in my first incarnation in Real Estate, but I think I have seen a total of three this time around... they are getting rare in New Tecumseth.


February 10, 2012 04:42 PM
Dorie Dillard
Realtor-Canyon Creek- NW, Austin TX Homes For Sale
Coldwell Banker United Realtors

Good morning Michael,

Boy when it comes to electrical panels with fuses I can't say I have dealth with them. Most all homes I sell are newer. Labeling is a must! Great advice as always Michael.

February 11, 2012 02:49 AM
Al & Peggy Cunningham Brokers, Brampton Ontario Homes For Sale 905-450-5500
RE/MAX Realty Services Inc.

Good topic Michael, up our way if the house has an old fuse box the insurance companies want it updated.  They will give the new owner 30 days after taking possession or cancel the insurance.

February 11, 2012 09:38 AM
James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

I agree Michael, fuses are really a good circuit protection device. In fact they are probably better than breakers, but in our modern world convenience is always king. 

February 12, 2012 08:38 AM
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Michael Thornton

Home Inspector - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.0297
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