Fuse panelHome Inspection, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo IA -Are Fuses Better?

A few times a month during the course of performing a home inspection in Waterloo, IA or Cedar Rapids, IA I will run into a fuse panel.

Most folks in Eastern Iowa automatically assume that fuses are old, outdated, and generally less reliable than circuit breakers. Some would even go as far as to say they were dangerous.

Well, it’s not the fuses that were dangerous. Fuses are typically more reliable than circuit breakers. Why? because the only thing it takes to make them blow is a flow of current that exceeds what they were manufactured to blow at. That’s right they are manufactured to blow at a certain amperage and unless their was a major malfunction in the manufacturing process, they will blow when they are supposed to.



More double tapsSo why did we switch to circuit breakers?

As modern appliances became more numerous in our kitchens and other areas of the home, we found that we needed more circuits to accommodate them. The problem is that there are only so many circuits available, even on the larger fuse panels. So, naturally, we should just double up our circuits on the fuses. The natural affect of this was that we started to blow fuses now and again. Well, gee wiz, we can’t have that, let’s just throw in a bigger fuse, shall we.

You see where this is going don’t you? Of course. When we blew the bigger fuse a couple of times we asked grandpa what should we do and he said “heck son, just throw a penny in there behind that fuse and she’ll never blow again”. Needless to say the insurance companies did not like it when they had to pay for a home that burned down as a result of over fusing or worse yet, sticking something behind the fuse, which may not even show up on an inspection report.



Circuit breakers

The obvious benefits of circuit breakers were that we could fit a lot more circuits in a smaller package and with that, the need to multi tap was eliminated. Or so it seemed. When you get a home inspection make sure your home inspector knows what he is looking at. There are actually some breakers out there that are manufactured and engineered to be double tapped, as long as the load is considered by a licensed electrician.

So, are fuses better than breakers? The answer is yes. If you are looking at it from a reliability standpoint. And, no from a insurance perspective.