How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

Why did circuit breakers replace fuses?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Here’s four reasons why circuit breakers replaced screw-in type fuses as the standard for new homes long ago:

Circuit breakers can be easily reset. Fuses must be replaced when blown. If additional fuses are not stored nearby, the circuit will remain dead for a while.

Circuit breakers are not a shock hazard. Fuses have electrically “live” surfaces that are exposed when changing them, and can arc if replaced under power.

 A circuit breaker can easily be used as on ON/OFF switch. Fuses must be removed to disconnect power to the circuit.

Circuit breakers can provide additional safety protection for shock (GFCI), arcing (AFCI), or both (DFCI) breakers. These safety features have been phased into the building code requirements starting about 50-years ago. Fuses cannot do this. 

    Also see our articles When did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes? and Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? and Should I buy a house with a fuse panel/box?

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Here’s links to some of our other articles about OLD AND OBSOLETE ELECTRICAL:

Is knob and tube wiring illegal?

• How do I find out the manufacturer of an old electrical panel? 

• Is all cloth wiring dangerous? 

When did they stop using aluminum wiring? 

Is tinned copper wire safe? 

Why is there a 3-phase breaker in a single phase electric panel with only two bus bars? 

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced?  

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

How dangerous is rust and corrosion inside an electrical panel?

 Are old fuse boxes illegal? 

 I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring? 

Are two-prong outlets up to code and legal?

What are those strange looking wall switches in houses from the 1950s and 1960s? 

 How dangerous is old electrical wiring? 

Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house?

   Visit our ELECTRICAL - OLD AND OBSOLETE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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