We still haven't been able to figure out our problem. Our power went
out in our upstairs and our dining room. Basically the same things are
out that would be out if a fuse blew but it's not a fuse, so my husband
thinks it might be a problem in the fuse box, but he can't find it.
I started a different thread and wanted to continue with it, but can't
find it now.
Anyway, my husband is afraid that if an electrician tried to find the
problem, he would want to replace the fuse box. Can a fuse box be
replaced with a circuit breaker box?
We have old style wiring (very old) and my brother says it would be
hard to get it to work with a circuit breaker box.
How much money would an electrician likely want to change the box if it
can be changed?
Our fuse box is on the back porch. Is that a problem?
A few possible problems.
A GFI may have tripped. These are devices to protect outlets and lights
that my be shock hazards like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, outdoor
fixtures or garages. They are often built into an outlet. They have push
buttons to test and reset. One may be controlling the circuit you see as
out. It may need to be reset. These are often added to older homes.
You could have a loose wire. It would be somewhere between the breaker
box and the first non-functioning device. Likely at the device. Of course
there is no easy way of determining what that first devise is.
Breakers and sometimes fuses are difficult to determine if they are
really tripped, they also can go bad.
I suggest that after reading both this and the original message that
unless you find a GFI that fixes the problem, you really should plan on
calling in a professional. It is not easy to provide the information you
need to safely check the other problems over the internet.
As for cost, that could vary greatly as code (local or national) may
demand this or that to be done if a replacement is required.
Based on what has been posted concerning the age of the wiring, it sounds
unlikely there would be a GFI involved, but that would be the second thing
to check after ensuring all the fuses were good. Don't assume a fuse is
good by visual inspection alone. Swap it with a new one, or a known good
one from another circuit (of same size of course!)
If fuse and GFI are eliminated, I'd try to figure out for sure what circuit
(fuse) is involved. This may mean using the process of elimination by
pulling the other fuses until you figure out which one is involved. Try to
ensure the problem is limited to the single circuit/fuse. If it turns out
it involves more, then the problem may be in the main fuse/cutoff. Perhaps
one phase of the fuse box has blown or otherwise gone out.
If you fuse box is on a porch, perhaps some moisture has come into play and
it may be that some corrosion has set in. Cleaning the wires and contacts
may solve the problem.
Since it sounds like you have limited knowledge of electrical installations,
the pro is probably going to be your best course, but like anything, the
more you understand of the problem, the more likely you'll be able to get
the best work done at the best price. No sense paying a contractor for a
200 amp panel upgrade when you have no intention of adding anything new that
would warrant that capacity.
Don't let your husband work on the electrical system; he doesn't understand
it. The only problems that could occur in the fuse box to cause this are
pretty easy to find -- so the problem is somewhere else. Probably a
disconnected wire somewhere.
Maybe... but isn't it more important to find AND FIX the problem?
Don't let your brother work on the electrical system either; he doesn't
understand it any better than your husband does.
That varies widely, depending on (among other things -- this is not an
- where you are (likely to be much cheaper in Peoria than in San Francisco)
- how many circuits need to be moved
- where the box is
- how much space is available for installing a new box
Bottom line is, we can't see it from here. The only way to find out how much
that's going to cost is to get several electricians to come out and give you
But you're placing the cart before the horse here. The FIRST thing you need to
do is get an electrician out to find out why half of your power isn't working.
Might be, might not be. Can't see it from here. You need to have an
electrician come out and look at the problem. Don't worry about replacing the
fuse box just yet. You need to find out why your outlets aren't working first.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
A (presumably) free service call by your local electric utility might reveal
the trouble. It's entirely possibly and even somewhat likely that the trouble
is THEIRS. A "leg" of their power (one of the two "hot" wires coming to the
house) may be out. This is NOT uncommon. Call them.
Usenet is like that. For some, that's part of the fun. <grin>
You can be SURE he would. That's his job and livelihood.
Yes, it is done frequently.
With all due respect, he's wrong. It's done all the time.
$400-500. That's a VERY rough GUESS. It could easily be more.
Maybe not. It sounds like yours is an old farm house. Fuse boxes on the back
porch are very common in such cases. Often, when these places are completely
rewired, the service entrance (circuit breaker panel) is moved to a "better"
place, usually on the inside of an exterior wall of the main house, usually in
the basement/cellar, if there is one.
Again, call the power company and tell them you suspect "one of the 'legs' of
your power is out". They can check for that quickly and will probably NOT
charge for the call. Also, check those places I recommended previously:
United Way, the local farm store or church. An accomplished amateur can
probably isolate the trouble (determine exactly what the trouble is). They
may even be able to properly (if not legally) fix it cheap. However, a
licensed, professional electrician is your *BEST* choice. Good luck.
This is REALLY easy to determine. Call an electrician and ask the cost to
install a 100-Amp or 200-Amp service. That's all you need to say.
Replacing an electrical panel is a standardized operation, roughly
equivalent to replacing the brake pads on a car in terms of known expenses.
Your electrical contractor has the procedure down to a science - he does
several every week.
As to cost, the panel with breakers and other miscellaneous parts will cost
the electrician roughly $200. The job requires, usually, two people for
(tops) four hours. If you know the approximate skilled-labor hourly rate in
your community, you can do the math. But, again, most contractors will quote
a flat rate for the job.
Still, it's simpler to just call.
Sounds like a loose wire to me
Pain in the rear but also a good thing to do every ten years or so.
Take all the devices out and give the screws a turn and tighten them
Also makes sure in your panel you tighten the neutrals.
Is there only one circuit here we are talking about?
I think only one...
I want to answer all you good, good people and thank you all for your
info, advice and suggestions, even though we haven't mulled them over
completely yet, just in case this thread also goes away from me and I
can't find it again.
I have copied and pasted everything you guys said to a Word document,
so if it does go away, I will still have it.
I also did that with the original thread I started, "electrical
We have a friend who rewired his whole house and he probably could help
us, but how to get someone who COULD help us TO help us. Not to say
that you guys haven't helped us!!!
Thank you all!!!
The way it happened was the lights blinked a few times, then a short
while later there was an outage for a few seconds, then a short while
later they went completely out. I don't know if that makes any
difference in diagnosing the problem or not.
Lots of good advice on here and one of the best is not to have hubby work on
it unless he understands Electricity and has some basic, proper, equipment.
As far as locating the fuse box that's going to take looking around and
seeing. Some older fuse boxes were located in or around the Kitchen porch,
if there is one by the Kitchen. For one have him look and see where the
electrical meter center is, on the outside of the house. The Fuse box might
not be very close but most likely it is so if the Meter is outside of the
Bedroom then check the bedroom closet walls or an area close to that entry.
If a basement home check in the basement to see if you can follow that
initial wire from the meter into the house and to the Fuse box. Most
important, before looking for a loose wire or any electrical problem TURN
OFF THE POWER. Use a Multimeter to track down problems. These can be found
at Lowes or Home Depot for a reasonable cost. The web site
www.howstuffworks.com may be helpful, look at breaker box on that site.
There are so many variables that often it's best to just get an electrician
if you can't determine it to be a blown fuse or as one contributor put it a
tripped GFCI outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). Will most likely
look just like a regular outlet (plug) except will have a Red button for
TEST or Tripping the circuit and a Black button for RESET.
Good luck but it's better to hire an experienced electrician if you have a
wiring problem than it is to maybe lose your husband to a nasty shock or
lose the house to an electrical fire.
On 12/26/06 8:15 AM, in article
We do know where the fuse box is, it's on the back porch. We don't know
if an electrician changed the box, if he could put the new one on the
Electricians cost so much! My husband just keeps saying, "We're
screwed, we're screwed, we're screwed."
He's suffering from severe depression and spends most of his time in
bed. I am forced to try and handle things I am just not equipped to
Anyway, Christmas was great because all my kids were here.
Thank you, and all of you, for your help!
Gary KW4Z wrote:
Unfortunately, you are right about the cost of electricians. I'm sorry to
hear about the depression issue, and home problems sure do not help. I'm
sorry I misread the initial post I suppose and didn't realize that you knew
where the box was.
You might check the local paper's classified ad's or www.craigslist.com to
see if you can find a electrician that may give you a better price. Another
source would be the Church. Some Church members maybe electricians, that is
if you go to Church, and would be willing to help out for less. Panel
(Breaker Boxes) are easily found at Lowe's or Home Depot so you don't have
to buy them from an Electrical store however a good Electrical store, if
there is one in your area, is Graybar. If there is one that is another
source to ask for an Electrician that may be willing to do it at a reduced
rate. Any Electrical company though IS going to tug at your purse strings
Remember though even Severe depression and desire to keep from paying a lot
for an electrician can put you, him, your house at great risk. If an
electrical circuit is wired up improperly and wires (Hot & Neutral) are
reversed then the circuit may work and seem fine but touching the
refrigerator to the stove could provide a fatal shock therefore MUCH
On 12/26/06 3:24 PM, in article
Tell him this: If you have a problem, ANY problem, that can be fixed by
throwing money at it, you DO NOT have a problem; you have an EXPENSE.
This simple maxim often puts the most desperate of situations in a whole new
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