What is prompting you to ask this question after 55 years? Breakers
offer more convenience/safety than fuses. How often do you cut power
to a circuit? How often do you blow a (literal) fuse? Does your setup
meet local/national codes?
Personally, I would just grumble about it rather than spend the money
to upgrade, unless it was costing me significant time/money or if it
was required by law.
If you are thinking about selling the house anytime soon, then get
breakers. Also make sure that you get a panel that is big enough to
accomidate any future circuits or other upgrades. Most likely if you
have fuses you also have way too many things on the same circuit. I'm
reasonably sure that fuses will turn off some buyers. I'm not sure if
there are homeowners insurance ramifications to having fuses, but I
know that they do ask which type you have.
I know when a friend bought a house a few years back that had 60A fuse
service, his insurance company required him to upgrade it within six
months. I gave him the service upgrade 101 course, he pulled the permit
and did the job himself with no problems and at a cost of a few hundred
dollars in materials.
He tried a number of insurers, that was the only one that would write a
policy. They were fine with everything but the electrical and at least
they were willing to write a policy with that condition.
Certainly the upgrade project was no big deal and not expensive. As it
was an upgrade was on his agenda anyway to properly support the basement
wood shop, it was just on a faster timetable due to the insurance issue.
Well if it works, don't fix it!
However if you are having problems with circuits being overloaded and fuses
blowing, then you would need to replace the fuse panel with a breaker panel
so you could add additional circuits. And when doing this work, it would
need to be installed properly to code. If it is not installed to code and
inspected, and there is a fire because of this, then your insurance company
does not have to pay for damages!
Other than that, modern electrical wiring is more safe than old wiring. I
prefer new up to code wiring in my house.
I'm of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" persuasion.
So, unless one or more of several conditions exist, I don't see much,
if any, point.
Is there any functional problem at present (that is, frequent
overloads, flickering, etc., etc.)?
Do you have any intention/need to add more loads and lack circuit space
to do so?
Is the wiring 2- or 3- wire (grounded, iow)? That age is on borderline
to possible be either.
If not grounded, are the baths and kitchen on retrofit GFCI's? That is
a possible "semi-real" consideration for safety. (Note to the bashers
-- I'm not saying there are potential benefits and that shouldn't use
them, only that got along quite nicely for quite some time before they
existed and as long as good condition and common-sense usage, lacking
them now doesn't create an imminent hazard as some seem to think.)
Do you have any intention of trying to sell the house in the near
future? This seems to have become a "hot button" issue w/ many
inspectors/potential buyers for, mostly imo, no _real_ reasons other
than "because". (For really old, 60A or other really low service,
there is some reason and the saw of "insurance" is possibly valid, but
otherwise I also think that it is _mostly_ a strawdog).
Is the condition of the panel and wiring and outlets, etc., still good
as far as can be told?
Overall, have to consider all of the above as an overall evaluation of
whether "it's time" or not and whether there's reason.
As others have noted, it is possible to do an upgrade individually, but
unless one is pretty comfortable and understands what is involved in
doing a proper job, this one is still probably best left to the pro's,
even at the expense to the pocketbook if decide to go ahead.
Where did you get the $1000+ figure? It shouldn't cost nearly that much
to pull out a 100A panel and replace it with another 100A panel in the
same location -- depending on the particulars, of course. Choose a new
panel carefully so that it fits in the same spot and reuse all the
I'd do a load analysis and see if 100A is adequate (if you have gas
appliances, it probably is) I wouldn't rush to change out a properly
installed and properly sized fuse box.
Insurance safety and resale value.
whats the overall condition of the service entrance cable? fuses are
regarded by home inspectors and insurance and mortage companies to be
inferior to breakers, and there are no arc fault fuses for bedroom and
have any old K&T in your home? how many fuses do you have and how many
for expansion? just a upgraded kitchen takes about 7 to meet current
code with all the common appliances.
Why do people think you paint every 7 years but assume wiring should
On 3 Jan 2007 11:54:51 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
That is the real point. Fuses are a whole lot safer than breakers, all
else being equal. Fuses always fail "open". Breakers can fail shorted.
Take a look at the CPSC articles on Federal Pacific.
If you have a capacity problem and you are blowing fuses you may need
better load balancing or an upgrade but if you are not blowing,
properly sized fuses, I do not see the problem. I can't imagine any
insurance company refusing insurance on a home with fuses and type S
adapters (that prevent overfusing) since it is code legal in the NEC
2005 to install that panel in a new house today.
In case you haven't noticed, insurance companies pay no attention to
accepted codes and just make whatever arbitrary rules they want to, with
no government agency stepping in to correct their overreaching.
Primarily because paint is exposed to the air and dirty hands of
kiddies, sunlight for UV fading, etc., etc., etc., and so suffers
direct damage that needs repair. Wiring, otoh, sits there undisturbed
in the dark doing nothing and has very little, if any, reason for
needing renewing unless disturbed or other factors cause need for it.
K&T in a 1950's-built house???? Aww, come off it. K&T went out at
least 20 years before then... :(
The questions of present service adequacy are ok, but unless there's
expansion on the horizon or an existing indication of overloading, so
what about expandability? It's not an issue until there is an issue.
Same thing w/ insurance and/or resale. If no plans, no problem. His
premiums undoubtedly will not be reduced if makes the change.
Main service entrance cables detoriate, fuse boxes rust, fuse blocks
detoriate, stuff getws overloaded and often needd upgrades are put off.
Lots of stuff like fridges and freezers should be on a dedicated
NOT in all areas of the country
had a friend whos insurance company got sold, new insurance company
demanded he rebuild his porch and upgrade his wiring, and fix sidewalks
and add handrails to steps.
I think its better to keep up with troubles than wait and have a
monumental bill at one inconvenient time
I've yet to see the first, the second indicates a moisture problem,
haven't any reason to think the third is an issue for OP. Certainly
have 50- and 60-yr old boxes here that don't show any signs of any of
these problems. At worst, there's some cosmetic rust and faded paint.
The rest is a possible issue which I addressed and don't disagree, but
again, unless there is a problem, there is no problem. Changing for
change's sake is totally unnecessary.
I'd think you would be hard pressed to find a house built in the 50s w/
K&T. Don't say there might not have been a few, but I suspect it would
have been _very_ few. Remember, that was the era of post-WWII and
Korea when the GI housing boom was at its peak and virtually anything
and everything possible to speed up construction was being done. K&T
ain't on that list.
You're free to make your choices, of course. Don't think your
recommendations (and most especially, over-generalizations) are
necessarily valid for others, however.
As for the one incident w/ a friend, those items other than wiring
could well have been immediate safety hazards and possibly a good idea
to limit liability. Can't comment on the wiring of course, nothing
about it is given to even form the wildest conjecture. But then again,
this friend might have just gone to another insurance company and had
no problem continuing on as he was...
GI Bill houses were inspected by the government. A 50s era new home
that went "GI Bill" had a grounded wiring method unless some inspector
was ignoring the rules. As late as the 70s there were still lots of
builders who would not build a GI home because of the stricter codes.
(No aluminum for one thing)
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