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Circuit breakers and fuses

By: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector
Circuit breakers and fuses

Submitted by: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector Lic GI 0121, President of Accurate Inspections, Inc, a New Jersey home inspection company

Circuit Breakers
You should know where your circuit breakers or fuses are located. They are usually in a metal box on an outside wall near your electric meter. Be sure to label your circuit breakers and fuses so that you know which one protects which circuit in your home.

When too much electrical current flows into a circuit, fuses and circuit breakers automatically open or interrupt the circuit to help prevent damage or electrical fires by preventing electricity from flowing through it. When a fuse or circuit breaker gets activated, some of your electrical devices will stop working. Your lights will go out, for example.

Turning Your Power Back On
If you lose power in your house, but see that your neighbors still have theirs, here\'s what you can do:

Turn off the lights or appliances you were using and check the circuit breaker panel to find the tripped switch. A tripped circuit breaker may look like it\'s still on, or the handle may have moved to an intermediate position. That\'s why it\'s a good idea to label your circuits. To reset a circuit breaker switch, move it to off, then to on. If the switch is a push button, it will pop out. Push it all the way in to reset it.

If the breaker trips again when you turn on the lights or appliances you were using, you are probably overloading the circuit. When that happens, you may need to move an appliance to a different circuit by plugging it in somewhere else.

If you still have no electricity after you\'ve reset your circuit breakers, try turning off the main breaker switch and all your circuit breaker switches. Then, turn on the main breaker switch and reset each circuit breaker switch.

If the problem persists, you may need to consult with an electrician.

Blown Fuses
Be prepared to replace blown fuses. Keep extra fuses handy in the sizes you need because, unlike a circuit breaker, a fuse needs to be replaced when it gets overloaded. If it\'s dark, never use candles use a flashlight.

You can tell when a fuse is blown by looking at it. It\'ll have a melted strip in the center of its glass top or the glass will look smoky.

To replace a blown fuse, turn off the appliances and lights you were using. Turn off the main switch on the fuse box (it may be a cartridge fuse in a block that must be pulled out completely). Check the fuses to find the blown fuse. Be sure to replace the blown fuse with the proper size, or you may cause a fire. When in doubt, use 15-amp fuses. Never substitute an object, such as a coin or a paper clip, for a fuse.

If the problem persists when you turn the main switch back on, again you may need to consult with an electrician.

Buying a home in New Jersey? has a listing of home inspectors in all counties of new Jersey. New Jersey Home Inspections are performed by the author of this artical Michael Del Greco in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic Counties.

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