Though only 41 :), I have learned in my short life that it is often the unseen dangers of life that can bring great ruin. In fact as I write this article a close friend is lying in the hospital having fought the unseen disease of cancer and is now fighting an unseen infection in the brain. These problems whether they be diseases in the body or dangers in the home, can lie dormant and unseen for sometime before the destructive results become noticeable.
One of these dangers in the home is the old fuse type breakers panels (pictured below). Due to the manner in which they were designed, these panels are notorious for loose connections that cause heat over time. Each appliance, computer, light, etc. in your home utilizes power or amperage drawn from the power company through the panel box to operate. The Electrical panel ultimately exists to protect you and your home/property. If the amperage exceeds the amp rating of the wire that is connected to it, the fuse is designed to “blow” for protection. However, in many cases where these panels exists heat increases in the panel behind the cover unseen by the homeowner or in some cases the residence. Typically there are 2 reasons for the increase in heat:
1) Loose connections at the fuse themselves – The clips on the fuses over time can become loose causing a bad connection resulting in higher amperage thus the presence of heat.
2) Improper sizing of fuses – When fuses “blow” in these panels the resident’s are usually unaware of the cause, thus they will often intentionally or unintentionally install a larger fuse. In the intentional cases they due so thinking the larger fuse will not “blow” unaware that the size of the fuse is in accordance with the capacity of the wire. The fuse then allows more amperage on the wire than its design which results in the presence of heat. Unintentionally they purchase the “only fuses they could find at the hardware store.” In either case the fuse is larger than it should be which can allow the presence of heat. WARNING: either scenario will eventually cause a fire if proper attention is not given.
The presence of heat is unseen due to it being hidden behind the panel cover. Pictured below is a panel we recently replaced. Notice in the full picture of the panel there is no sign of noticeable danger; however, the picture of the fuse tells a different story. Heat was increasing in the panel and was an unseen danger.
We recommend having the panel thoroughly checked and in most cases replaced. Breaker panels are much more safe due to the safer design. Loose connections are limited in addition to breakers indicating heat and tripping at a safer rate. Be safe and have your panel serviced for possible Unseen Electrical Dangers.