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Thread: Old house, 100A fusebox, should we replace w. breakers?

  1. #1

    Question Old house, 100A fusebox, should we replace w. breakers?

    Our house is about 60 years old, have 100A service, fuses.
    Its getting more difficult to purchase fuses, and we were thinking of changing to a new breaker box.
    We have 3 220v. appliances, stove, dryer, and water pump. And the rest is all 110v.
    We would have it done professionally, my husband used to do all our plumbing and elec work, but not any more at this age, and there are new rules and regs.

    Wondering if this is actually necessary, if the old fusebox is fine, and we have no plans to add to our house. Doesnt seem to be a safety issue, fuses blow when needed. Like when our cat chewed thru my router wire and shorted it out, the cat was OK. Blew the fuse but not the fur off the cat.
    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I am a firm believer in if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Changing to Type “S” fuses might help the issue. Be sure to replace the fuse adaptor with the proper size according to the wire and this will help

  3. #3

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    Thank you, I think he has some screwed into the old sockets. Its the Knife/cartridge fuses that are hard to find now.
    The big ones that fit into the main fuse thingie are hard to find, and the fuse holder itself cracked one day when the power was whacky when a tree fell on the line and my husband yanked it out. He glued it together, but we could not find a replacement anywhere, Square D. was on the side of it.
    I did find one on ****, but they wanted $100 for it.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Fuses have both good and bad points...CB are certainly easier to restore power with than finding an appropriate fuse in the dark. Today's homes like electrical appliances, and 100A may not be adequate. If you ever broke down and added an a/c unit or two to the thing, then you'd likely have problems.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I am not sure where you are buying fuses, but I have never had any problem locating either the screw in or cartridge fuses. They do make "circuit breaker" screw in fuses with a button you push when it trips.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6

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    We do occasionally use an AC, but rarely do we need one with our constant seabreezes here in summer.
    We do use a dehumidifier most all summer in our cellar.
    Reason its difficult to find fuses, is we are a small town, but could easily get the cartridge fuses in Hyannis.

    Thank you all for this advice, perhaps this summer we will go ahead and upgrade everything. We did get one estimate for about $700 so far.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; We did get one estimate for about $700 so far.

    Wow! That would just about cover the cost of the material and driving to your house. (Just a little bit of exageration there)
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  8. #8

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    We used to do all our own stuff, so have not a clue of costs are now.
    Had a new breaker box put in our camp in Maine for under $200 by a friend, so is the $700 bad or good?
    This is MA, not Maine.

  9. #9

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    It depends on what you are getting for $700. If it is a full upgrade from the meter to a new decent quality 200A panel with at least 30 breaker spaces, all circuits properly labeled, with arc fault breakers installed where appropriate, and the backer board for the panel replaced if needed than yes its a good deal. We wouldn't touch it for less than $1K.

    And remember, its a good deal only if you are receiving a good installation.

    I would also recommend replacement, if only for the reason a fuse box is red flag for home inspectors. The money you spend you will likely recover partially if not fully when you sell the property.

    -rick

  10. #10

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    Thank you! This really answers my question. Everything is old, and would be nice to upgrade the whole thing.
    We dont plan selling, the kids will inherit this and the one in Maine.

    We also would like to have our generator wired in, as it is now, we plug it in to a special plug after we pull the main, and turn on only selected circuits.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    One thing to keep in mind is that a service change doses nothing for the interior wiring. When all is said and done you still have old wiring and devices with a pretty panel.

  12. #12

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    Very true, but a lot of that wiring has been updated.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by capecod12 View Post
    Thank you, I think he has some screwed into the old sockets. Its the Knife/cartridge fuses that are hard to find now.
    The big ones that fit into the main fuse thingie are hard to find,.
    Something else to bear in mind is that a non-time delay cartridge fuse will blow within 6 cycles or 1/60 of a second but an inverse time breaker can carry 6 times its rated current for up to two minutes. The fuse will blow when loaded to 100 amps in less than a second but a 100 amp breaker can let through 600 amps for as long as two minutes but in most cases when loaded to 600 amps will trip in a few seconds, (between 2 and 30 seconds)

    A non-time delay fuse is 6 times safer than a breaker. A type “S” or time delay fuse is 4 times safer than a breaker when it comes to the amount of time it takes to open them.

    It has been my experience over the past 44 plus years that those who had a service upgrade changing from fuses to breakers without addressing All the issues of the interior wiring of their homes have ended up having more problems in the long run.

    Please understand that I am not trying to talk you into or out of something that you desire to have done, I just want you to be aware of the facts. The price you quoted, if the service is being changed for the same size is about a third of my price. I have a hard time believing that the job can be properly done at that price but then again I have never done work in your area nor have I looked at the job. I will say this, it is about what I include in my bid for labor and expenses for a service change.

    Also be aware when you decide to hire someone to do this work one of the most important questions you must ask is about their liability insurance. Should something go wrong and they don’t have liability insurance you might be stuck with a larger bill than what was bid.

    Also for the sake of your homeowners insurance be sure that the job is permitted and inspected.

  14. #14

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    Excellent info! Thank you, I am soooooo glad I found this forum, we started with the plumbing one, as we were replacing a toilet and needed to research a good replacement.

    Your first paragraph is extremely interesting, I had read something about this years ago, and thats one reason that he stuck with fuses.

    My husband said that they used fuses on the ships for some reason, will have to ask him the reason for that(by the way, he is a retired marine engineer), and knows a lot about DC.
    I am learning so much here! From now on, before we do anything elec or plumbing, will run it by you all first.

    We will certainly have to think about this, perhaps we are better off leaving our fuse box the way it is, its always worked perfectly.

  15. #15
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I made a mistake in that paragraph. It should have said one tenth not one sixtieth

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