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My circuits do not work right, is my electrical fuse box safe?

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Solve Old Electrical Fuse Box Problems: How Unbalanced Circuits may cause one of the cartridge fuses to blow which will affect half of the 120 volt screw infuse circuits.

Upgrading an Old Electrical Fuse Box

Electrical Question: I recently moved into a house that has a fuse box and is running window air conditioning units.

  • The first day in the house everything worked fine, the second day the window unit in the front room went out.
  • When it stopped working I lost power to my porch light, entry light, washer and dryer, range, dishwasher, and kitchen lights.
  • When I plug the new window a/c unit into the same outlet it will run for a few seconds and then turn off.
  • The second before it turns off the lights in the kitchen flash. This does not blow the fuses (for the AC outlet which is wired into a circuit with two fuses) and I am able to turn the a/c unit back on and the same thing happens.
  • We have cleaned up the grounds in the fuse box (yes fuse not breaker) thinking that maybe the a/c was creating a ground that the appliances weren’t getting. We made sure the range had solid connection to both ground and power, the range is a 220 volt with a fuse slot of its own, the same as the washer and dryer.
  • I am at a loss as to why it is happening, since all the things that are off, are all on different circuits.

Hopefully this is enough information to get some ideas.
Thank you for your time.

Additional Comments: Great resource for people to get opinions before forking out lots of money on problems!
Background: Eric, a Handyman from Topeka KS.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Eric.

Old Electric Fuse Boxes and Circuit Problems

How Unbalanced Circuits Can Cause a Fuse to Blow or Circuit Breaker to Trip

  • Electric Fuse Boxes
    • Some fuse boxes have two sets of cartridge fuses where one supplies 60 amps 240 volts to the kitchen range while the other supplies power for the screw in type fuse protected 120 volt circuits.
    • Unbalanced loads may cause one of the cartridge fuses to blow which will affect half of the 120 volt screw infuse circuits.
  • Electrical Safety Inspection and Evaluation
    • My first thought about you have described is that there is a problem at the main electrical fuse box.
    • I would have the main fuse box inspected for loose or deteriorating connections.
  • Electrical Service Upgrade
    • My recommendation is to upgrade the electrical service to a new circuit breaker panel as soon as possible.
    • A safety inspection of the home electrical wiring system and the main ground would be a very good idea and should include checking for the presence of smoke detectors and GFCI protection in the required areas.

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3 Responses to “My circuits do not work right, is my electrical fuse box safe?”
  1. michael says:

    I have a fuse that blew because a portable heater overloaded the circuit. I replaced the fuse but now only part of the circuit works. I have changed the outlets and checked all the fuses but still no power to the other side the socket. The fuse box seems to be getting worn out. Do you think that could be the problem?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Michael,
      There is a good possibility that a wiring splice in the outlet box where the electric heater was plugged into has become burnt and needs to be repaired. Turn off the circuit and check the wire splices in the outlet boxes and the wiring connections to the receptacle outlets. Look for loose or burnt wire connections and make the electrical repairs as needed, or have an electrician repair this circuit for you.

  2. Albert says:

    i have a panel of eight Electrical meters on an apartment complex. Six units is getting half power and two are fully functional????????? what shall i do ?? I checked all the breakers in each unit and none are tripping, could it be a fuse in the main power supply outside next to my meters??


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