Whether in your business or at home, electricity makes nearly everything possible. We don’t take much time to think about how everything gets power, but the secret is that there is a consumer unit – also known as a fuse box – that delivers power throughout the building.
One of the worst situations that happens with these consumer units is that they blow a fuse. If you have ever wondered why it happens, check out the reasons below.
Types of Fuses
Consumer units can vary depending on the setup and use. The consumer unit for a home versus that of a business will vary exponentially in size and amperage. For instance, the average consumer unit is in a 60-amp box, possessing two main fuses within the fuse box as well as four separate screw-in fuses.
Your average residential consumer unit will use either the screw-in or the cartridge type. A screw-in fuse is round and small, having a glass body that keeps the fusing element safe and a metal conductive base that ultimately screws into the fuse box in much the same way that a lightbulb would screw in.
How Fuses Blow
Because of the design of consumer units, the fuse is the weakest part in a home electrical system. All of the other components and wires within that system are built to last whereas the fuse elements are interchangeable, and failure is not only normal but expected.
When there is more than enough current or the temperature rises to a level that could potentially threaten the rest of the system, the fusing element within the fuse will take the damage. It is the easiest to replace and there are fewer consequences for a damaged fusing element versus any of the other components within the consumer unit.
Reasons Why Fuses Blow
This all leads to the main reasons why the average fuse will blow. As it stands, there are several reasons to consider with these being the most common.
The single biggest reason that your fuse blows is because it is overloaded. A closed circuit works properly and blowing a fuse will open up that circuit. Electrical overloads are capable of being up to 6 times that of a normal current level, which is more than enough to eventually open the circuit.
Overloads happen when there are too many devices on a single circuit. If you have something like a hairdryer, microwave, and lights all on the same circuit, the fuse could potentially blow.
Short circuits take place when an electrical circuit is given a path of lesser resistance. What does that mean? Well, electricity is able to freely travel along conductors and copper wires. When there is an easier pathway to travel, the electricity will naturally follow that path.
A short circuit is capable of being potentially thousands of times greater than what a normal operating circuit handles. A short circuit can damage wire insulation, melt metal, cause fires, and even totally vaporize conductors. Loose wires, water hitting an electrical box, or a nail piercing electrical cables can all lead to a short circuit.
The final reason is due to a ground fault. Ground faults come because there is a “hot” wire – one with an electrical current – touching anything that is already grounded. That might include a metal pipe, an electrical box, a bare ground wire, an outlet, or your hand.
Ground faults will not only potentially blow a fuse but could harm you. Be careful if you think that a ground fault is at play and make sure to wear insulated gloves if you are going to be handling wires.