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Old Electric Services- be careful.
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Mike D.    Posted 12-31-2002 at 05:19:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
Reading Screaminghollows post brought back some old memories. There are a lot of old houses out there that don't have a main disconnect at the fuse box. Although you can unscrew all the fuses
there is still power to the panel.

The only way to shut off the electric service to a house with this set up is to remove the electric meter. There have been a number of people killed fooling around these old services. Our old farm house had
wires pulling power above the fuses, no protection from shock that way.

The best solution is to replace your old panel box with a new one. Most single family houses use a 200 amp disconnect. It is not hard to do. A book and some friendly advice will get you through it. Most county goverments allow the home owner to get a permit to do their own work. Definately get the permit. Most insurance companies will not honor a claim if you have a house fire and recent 'non- inspected' electrical work has been done. There are some sad stories on this subject. Be careful.

Hal/WA    Posted 01-01-2003 at 01:28:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have never seen one without some way to disconnect everything, but maybe there were some. Most of the old "fuse boxes" I have seen had holders for cartridge fuses for the higher amp loads. To disconnect them, you pulled out the fuse holder block, opening the circuit. You could not replace the cartridge fuses without taking the holder out of the cabinet. If I remember correctly, if you put the fuse holder block in upside down, it would not make contact and the power would remain off.

Just because something is old does not mean it will no longer work. In my opinion, for some things fuses work better than breakers. The usual problem with an old electrical service is that it is way too small, both in total capacity and in the number of circuits it can protect.

Obviously whoever worked on your old farmhouse electrical setup did not come close to following code. Getting power from a circuit that is not protected by a fuse or circuit breaker could be very dangerous if a problem occurred that would normally blow the fuse. I would be very suspicions of the rest of their wiring job and would want to at least examine as much wire as possible, if not totally repacing it. Peace of mind is worth a lot. Good luck!

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