A fuse box is where the electricity in your home is controlled and distributed to each room. Should an emergency arise, it’s important to know where your home’s fuse box is, so you can turn off the electricity to avoid any damage. It’s also good to know for simple handyman projects, too, such as replacing light fixtures or appliances.
How do you find your home’s fuse box?
Fuse boxes are easy enough to find. They are typically located in the basement or on the first floor of a home. Look for a thin metal panel, approximately one foot wide and two feet tall. Simply open the panel door to see your fuse box, and you’ll see two rows of black switches.
What’s in a fuse box?
A fuse box is comprised of three main parts that homeowners need to be aware of: the main switch, circuit breakers and residual current devices.
The main switch allows you to turn off power to the entire home. It should be installed at the top of the fuse box and be larger than the other switches. When this switch is turned off, no outlet, room, appliance or exposed wire will have electricity running through it. The entire house is safe to work on when it is turned off.
Be sure you turned off power to the entire home before assuming you got the right switch. Walk through each room and test the lights. If nothing is turning on, you got the right one.
Note: It is possible that your home or residence has two fuse boxes, especially if you have electric storage heaters. Each should be clearly labeled, but if you are unsure which is which, turn off power to both before doing any work.
Fixed Residual Current Devices
A residual current device (or RCD) is a safety switch that automatically trips the circuit during certain dangerous situations should an electric current suddenly flow through an unintended path. If and when this happens, electricity is disconnected very quickly to minimize harm. RCDs help stop electrical fires and electrocutions and are made to save lives.
There are multiple forms of RCDs, but when it comes to fuse boxes, the type of RCD in question is the fixed residual current device. Fixed RCDs protect all the wiring and sockets on a particular circuit as well as any connected appliances.
A circuit breaker, like an RCD, is designed to flip off should it detect a fault in the flow of current. This is referred to as a tripped circuit. Should a circuit breaker trip, simply fix the problem and flip it back to the “on” position. Circuits often flip when too much electricity is drawn from a particular socket or room. To remedy, simply distribute the devices throughout the house before flipping the circuit back.
Circuits are assigned by room and major appliances (HVACs and dryers, for example, will often have their own circuits). If none of the circuits in your fuse box are clearly labeled, take the time to figure out what each circuit powers. Flip every switch to the off position except the main switch. Click one on at a time, and see which room or appliance is powered up.
Fuse boxes are made for everyone in mind.
You don’t have to be an electrician to flip a switch off, but if you are having repeated electrical issues in your home, call an electrician. Moreover, if you believe for any reason that your home might be at risk to an electrical fire, flip off the main switch first before calling anyone. Regardless of whether or not your intuition is on point, it’s best to be safe.
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