Fixing a Blown Fuse

Fixing a blown fuse is a common--and, more importantly, minor--home repair. Fuses blow fairly frequently and without warning. Having a spare on hand can save you a headache when the fuse blows at an inconvenient time.

The purpose of fuses is to control the electrical current flowing through a house. Fuses are designed to blow, so it is not unusual for that to happen every once in awhile. As the electrical current flows through the circuit, it passes through the fuse at a standard number of amps. Fuses are built to heat up quickly, but have a low melting point. If an abnormally strong current comes through the circuit, the fuse melts down, breaking the flow of energy through the circuit and preventing a surge that could cause serious damage to the wiring and appliances in the house, and could even be as costly as a college savings plan.

Plug Fuses and Circuit Fuses

There are two sets of fuses: plug fuses and circuit fuses. The first step in repairing a blown fuse is to determine which fuse has blown. The plug fuse, as the name implies, is found in the appliance's plug. The circuit fuse is found in the breaker box.

When the power to an area of the house goes out, unplug all of the appliances that have lost power. Locate the circuit breaker in the breaker box that is in the '"off" position, and flip it back on. Then plug each appliance back in one by one. The one with a faulty fuse will trip the circuit again when you plug it in.

To replace the faulty plug fuse, carefully unscrew the back of the plug with a screwdriver. Remove the fuse by unscrewing it--it is a small glass tube with a metal cap on each end--and replace it with a new fuse of the same type. Most small appliances under 750 watts use 3A fuses, while larger appliances like televisions use 13A fuses. Make sure the three colored wires are in place, and carefully screw the back of the plug back on. After flipping the circuit breaker again, test the appliance by plugging it in.

If the blown fuse is a circuit fuse, identify it by opening the breaker box and finding the fuse that is blackened or cracked. The circuits may also be mapped on the breaker box. Just as with the plug fuse, replace the faulty circuit fuse with one of the same amperage.

If all of the fuses seem to be in good shape, the problem may be with the fuse box, not the fuses themselves. If the clips or rivets come loose, the fuses fail to transmit the energy flow. Try replacing all the fuses first to see if you can identify a faulty fuse by trial and error. If that doesn't work, call an electrician to repair the box itself.

Preventing a Blown Fuse

If a fuse blows repeatedly, there may be a problem with the appliance or the wiring. You may be tempted to replace the fuse with a higher-rated one, but this can allow a surge through the circuit that cause serious damage to the appliance and even an electrical fire. A fuse that blows repeatedly may be indicative of a more serious electrical problem.

An easy remedy is to make sure there are not too many appliances running on one circuit. Check plugs and outlets for corrosion and loose wiring. A faulty appliance can also cause frequent shortages. If you cannot identify the problem, contact an electrician. Fixing a blown fuse is an easy home repair, but a professional can protect your home from bigger problems.

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