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Thread: Are insurers nervous about screw-in circuit breakers in old fuse panels?

  1. #1
    DIY Member Belmondo's Avatar
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    Default Are insurers nervous about screw-in circuit breakers in old fuse panels?

    My insurance broker said he couldn't underwrite the house if it had fuses anywhere. I told him it had one subpanel with 4 of the circuit breakers that screw in where the fuses go, and he said lets see what the insurance inspector says and issued the policy. If it's going to be a problem I'd rather get ahead of it and replace the panel now when things are slow. Anyone have experience with this issue?


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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Made in China? No UL marking? My confidence level in that device just dropped to zero!

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreemoweet View Post
    Made in China? No UL marking? My confidence level in that device just dropped to zero!

    UL Listed

    http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/Pro...aspx?SKU=31058

  4. #4

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    Bel,

    The insurance company cannot force you do an update but, they can deny you & make you look for new insurance. The fuses themselves will be around for a while, but, the fuse boxes have not been manufactured for a long, long time, and if you have a problem with the box, it probably, will cost you more being it could end up being an emergency repair. ( the story of my life) You would likely have to have the entire service upgraded and this would involve the power company as well. If your service is that old, chances are so is the wiring maybe, time for a rewire, because the insulation could be degraded due mostly, to age. Even if the conductors in your wiring are doing their job, it doesn't mean the insulation is, too. Some companies won't even write an insurance policy if your home has a fuse box or, Knob & Tube wiring. We ran into this a long time ago in our first house.
    Last edited by Cookie; 08-13-2012 at 08:08 PM.

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    DIY Member Belmondo's Avatar
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    Kreem, good catch, I guess those may be crap, but the metal shelled model I have here in my hand is UL listed, it doesn't say "made' anywhere but says Mechanical Products, Jackson MI.

    Cookie, the service itself is new, it's just this one 4 circuit sub panel that's a remnant. It should be gone, but it's all the work closing up walls & ceilings after the wiring is done that I hate and would avoid if I can!

  6. #6

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    You might not have a choice. Have you had one charred yet? They can get expensive, and if an insurance company writes you, your rates might be higher, too. Just a word of warning, I see this with older homes.

  7. #7
    DIY Member Belmondo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie View Post
    You might not have a choice. Have you had one charred yet? They can get expensive, and if an insurance company writes you, your rates might be higher, too. Just a word of warning, I see this with older homes.
    Umm, what charred? the breaker or the home?!

  8. #8

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    The fuse breaker...

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The way I see it, fuse boxes are a big problem since it is much easier to potentially overload the wiring. With a more modern CB panel, the average user won't just go in and change a CB to a larger one (which would likely overload the wiring). But, with a fuse panel, say it's a 15A circuit, and you only have a 20A fuse - you use that and then forget to replace it. Even with the CB fuse replacements, they can fail, same issue (assuming you have a spare).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    The way I see it, fuse boxes are a big problem since it is much easier to potentially overload the wiring. With a more modern CB panel, the average user won't just go in and change a CB to a larger one (which would likely overload the wiring). But, with a fuse panel, say it's a 15A circuit, and you only have a 20A fuse - you use that and then forget to replace it. Even with the CB fuse replacements, they can fail, same issue (assuming you have a spare).
    Jad, that is essentially, the reason why the insurance companies hates them. You are right on the money. A fuse is faster in shutting off an unsafe level of amps, but, melts ( inside of an insulator) and has to be replaced each time; and, like you said, can be replaced with the wrong size of fuse, whereas, with a breaker, when too much current flows through it trips slower, but, no mistake can be made in reseting it and no cost. It is simply a spring loaded contactor with 2 types of metals which bend to heat. Even these do not last forever, each time, it trips it is deteriorating the breaker. The insurance companies are tough on wanting to see an update at least done within the past 20 years. Or like going into an convenience store, ( no shoes, no shirt, no service)...They really mean NO fuses, NO boxes or NO insurance. I have even seen newer homes built with fuses, those poor people, they never take the news well & God only knows why, they built them like that.
    Last edited by Cookie; 08-14-2012 at 12:25 AM.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    The one thing to keep in mind is that the changing of a service panel from fuses to breakers does nothing for the internal wiring of a building.

    I don’t know of the times I have seen a home sold under the pretense that the wiring was up to date when the fact is the only thing done to the system was a service change.

    My wife, bless her heart, just the other day told a realtor that had called me to do an evaluation of an electrical system after a Home Inspector had pointed out many deficiencies with the electrical system that a service change was like her getting her hair fixed expecting her lungs to be in perfect health.
    She went on to say that although she would look a lot better the fact remained that her lungs was failing and the new hairdo only make her look better but she was still sick.

    Cookie,
    My wife tells me every day that should I get confused about something all I have to do is ask a woman for guidance. With your post in this thread you have once again proved her right.
    How can mankind continue to exist without the help and guidance of a woman? He can’t.
    Real good advice young lady, you have made me proud to be a man as I know that there is a woman out there to guide us men through our egotism.

  12. #12

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    What an extraordinary way to start the new day hearing such nice things! I thank you.

    I was married to a sparky if you remember, and, he talked alot in his sleep. Now, I bet your wife will understand this, lol, I listened well, but, he only "shop talked." It was at night when he was sleeping, I learned the trade...

    ...he always wondered how I got so smart.
    Last edited by Cookie; 08-14-2012 at 07:20 AM.

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    With screw in fuses, unless they had "FuseStats" with the adapters, the solution for a blowing fuse was to install a "bigger one" and since a 30 amp was the same size as any of the smaller ones, it was easy to overload the wiring and start a fire. In fact, the ultimate overload was to insert a penny in the socket and use the burned out fuse to hold it in place.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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