If you have an old-fashioned fuse panel, here’s some help to prepare you for the unexpected and protect your home from dangerous oversights.
Never remove fuses in the dark; have a flashlight handy. Wear rubber-soled shoes or stand on a rubber mat. Remove fuses with one hand. Screw new fuses in very tightly. And never, ever replace a fuse with a penny.
I.D. those fuses
If you don’t already have a map inside the fuse panel telling you which circuit each fuse protects, make one now. It saves time (and clock-vcr-microwave-resetting) later on.
Remove one fuse at a time, and go around the house making a list as you turn things on and test wall sockets. Check out any add-on boxes for appliances like clothes dryers.
The heavier the gauge of wire on the circuit, the more amperage it can carry. A fuse protects the wire from overheating by blowing as soon as the amperage exceeds its rating. Common household fuses are 15 amps for No. 14 wire, 20 for #12 and 30 for #10.
While you should never overload a circuit by putting a fuse with a higher amp rating on it, past owners may have overlooked this. Except for large appliances, most household circuits are 15 or 20 amp, and if you’re not sure which wire is used in the circuit, err on the side of caution with a 15 amp fuse. If air conditioners or other appliances with large motors cause the fuse to blow, try special fuses which allow for brief power surges. (Keep extras handy.)
Circuit breaker fuses have reset buttons which save the cost of replacing them, and “S” fuses prevent fuse confusion with a base (which screws into the socket) and a matching fuse (which screws into the base).