Tired of Blown Fuses? Circuit Breakers Worth the Investment

In older homes, fuses protect the wiring; in newer homes, circuit breakers do the job.

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In older homes, fuses protect the wiring and help prevent electrical fires when there's an overload to a circuit. If this happens, the flow of electricity in a circuit is cut off. In newer homes, circuit breakers do the same thing. If the circuit has more current flowing through it than it can handle safely, the breaker automatically switches off the electricity.

The advantage of a circuit breaker over a fuse is that breakers can then be switched back on, while a (blown) fuse has to be replaced. If you still have a fuse box, like our house in Syracuse, N.Y., it may be time to upgrade to a breaker panel. Given the electrical needs in an average household, your electrical system may be outdated and undersized, so here are a few things to remember:

Upgrading electrical service is definitely a job for a professional. Get at least three estimates from licensed electrical contractors. The upgrade won't be cheap, but it will be more convenient. You won't have to stock up on fuses. It could be more than a thousand dollars to give your electrical panel a spark and upgrade from fuses to breakers. For ease and safety, it'll be well worth the price.

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